This is a project to see how productive a single small raised bed can be at producing vegetables for my next door neighbour, Matt ,a relative newcomer to veg growing,on a very small plot he's going to create this year completely from scratch on a disused part of my plot.
He's been waiting for a local council allotment plot to become available and is getting itchy feet.
I said he could dig himself a small bed in part of my plot I just use for storage,and he took me up on the offer.
He'll be starting from scratch,digging it from just old former grassland which hasn't been dug over before and has just been covered to keep the weeds down.
The bed will be just 15x6 feet,so that's only 10 square yards.
So hopefully he'll show that even as a relative newcomer to veg growing,you can produce a vast array of produce from just one tiny plot if you put in the time and the effort,even starting from scratch this late in the year.
The area was just part of my plot I used for storing old pots etc and was formerly grassland which had been covered with fabric to keep the weeds at bay.
The soil was really compacted as it had been walked on continuously for many years.
Anyway,undaunted,after making the raised beds from 6x1 timber and then 3 hours of digging and half an hour with the rotavator this is the result of his efforts.(I forgot to take any pics of the digging as he'd already dug it over before I got chance)
Pretty amazing in such a short space of time, just one afternoon !!
The soil is on the heavy side as it's not had any grit or organic matter added but with some further tilling and raking it should be OK.
It's also pretty wet as it's been covered over for years.
After leaving the soil to dry for a few days,now it was time to improve the soil a bit with 300 litres of multipurpose compost he managed to get pretty cheaply.
That ended up adding about 1.5 inches of some good stuff to improve the soil a bit, open up the structure and add some all important organic matter.
Now he's just got the task of mixing the compost into the soil with the good old manual 3 pronged gut busting cultivator.
That's it gone over once,about another 3 more times then a bit of raking and he'll be ready to start planting next weekend.
After another 3-4 hours of cultivating,raking and manually breaking up the lumps by hand,the soil is now in great shape,and ready for sowing and planting.
As you can see it's been well broken down into a good fine tilth with all his efforts.
I'm getting a bit worried now as his soil now looks as good as mine.
So this weekend should be planting and seed sowing time.
Today was the day to start sowing and planting.
First in were the Spring Onions right near the edge,then something I've never seen,pricking out some spring onions that he'd already sown indoors.
Then a row of Shallots spaced at 6" intervals then a row of Carrots.
Then to surround the carrots,a row of Garlic at 6" spacings to help ward off the carrot fly,and next to that a row of onions at 4" spacings.
Then, ably assisted by Strawberry growing superhero "Keefer" (all will become apparent at a later date !) the peas went in at the North end so as not to shade anything else.
Next to these went a row of potatoes at 6" spacings then a half row of lettuce,a row of beetroot and another row of parsnips,all at 1ft row spacings.
So that's most of it planted,just some beans,strawberries and other stuff to go in at a later date.
Apparently next time he's inviting 2 of his best buddies pictured above to give him some tips on growing some plants for use as hair & beauty products.
Well,Matt's 2 buddies didn't turn up today to help so he had to do things on his own.
Time to plant the Strawberries supplied to him by Keefer,all round Bon Viveur and a thoroughly good egg.
Supplied and grown in some wooden wine crates from his own little Chateaux, he's planted some out and left some to grow in the boxes.
He's even put his woodworking skills to good effect and produced a lovely minimalistic garden bench.
I had to give it a try.
He's taking commissions for these at a bargain brice of just £1499.99 and they'll come in a variety of colours to suit any garden.
Colours are dependant on what colour fence posts and gravel board are available at the Builders Merchant at the time of manufacture.
The first signs of life,the Garlic's started to show through.Not bad after just 5 days from planting it.
Matt put his joinery skills to good use and created some staging in my disused greenhouse which he's going to grow some Toms,Chillies and Peppers in.
Well,a week later and Matt's nearly caught me up !!
The onions are sprouting and his Lettuce has all germinated.
The shallots are trying a novel sideways escape route and he's even got the 1st peas poking through.
So that's the state of play just 3 weeks after the the first sod was dug....pretty amazing really !
Well,into May now and I can't believe it,even his Parsnips have germinated !!.
As everyone knows they can be a real pain to get growing and sometimes you don't even manage to get any through, but not old Greenfingers,oh and all his peas are up as well,mine aren't !!
The spuds are starting to emerge as well.
So things are starting to take shape.
Well,after a 2 week break things are starting to move.
All the carrots,parsnips and beetroot are growing.
The greenhouse is filling with numerous tomatoes,chillies and peppers.
I've no idea how he's going to get about 40 plants in 8x6 greenhouse though.
So,things are starting to take shape.
Just a quick update.
Things are starting to move a bit.Hopefully within the next week Matt'll be sowing some dwarf french beans,some more lettuce and transplanting some leeks in a week or so.
Well,the 1st harvest.
Matt's been eating some of his Lettuce of late which have done really well.Transplanted a couple of rows of Leeks this week too.
He's got his 1st flowers on the peas and Potatoes too,so It should only be a couple of weeks before they are ready as well.
Pretty amazing after just over 2 months,starting from scratch on an old bit of unused compacted ground.
Just goes to show you what you can achieve in such a short space of time if you pull your finger out.
Well,Matt's plot has also benefited from the recent rain and things are really starting to move.
He should get a good crop of peas judging by the amount of flowers.
To scare the birds he's hung some old CDs up which flash in the sunlight and frighten them off.
He'd have been better playing the music to scare them : I never knew he was a fan of Take That,the Spice Girls, and get this.....Bronski Beat !!
No,I'm only kidding,they were all just his old Abba CDs .
Seems to be a race on to see who'll pick the 1st peas.We're neck and neck at the moment.
Cracking Lettuce !!
Here's his Beans,Beetroot and Parsnips,all doing well.
And the whole bed.
Into July and he beat me on the 1st peas to be picked.
As you can see,there's not much bare soil.
Potatoes,peas,lettuce,beetroot picked and the other stuff is really growing.