Potager en carre en juin

After the first update of our allotment, it’s time to type up the first real monthly update of our raised bed garden in front of our house. It’s the first time that I’m growing in raised beds and I have to confess that I didn’t expect much of it when I first started. But it was the only option we had when I started building them. These beds are build on top of a asphalt surface and I’ve explained in an earlier post how I have built the beds up to make them save to grow food for consumption. Why would you otherwise grow food?

It’s June now and we have already harvested food from the beds, even though I haven’t fully filled them with crops. The allotment kept me occupied the last few months. The biggest part of the beds have been sown and planted these last two weeks, as you can see on the picture below. Tiny seedlings everywhere. Some were successional crops, but most of them are first sowings. I have decided to sow directly for the biggest part of the crops when it comes to these boxes. Pests and natural elements are pretty easy to contain and therefore direct sowing has proven to be pretty successful.

I have noticed a few things in these beds. First of all they retain a lot of moisture, which is to be expected as they are fully lined with (food grade) plastic, so water can’t go out easily. The water that falls into the boxes, pretty much stays in it. Although this time of year, much water is not really needed, I think it’s a good thing for the warmer times ahead.

Another thing I’ve noticed – and I mentioned briefly earlier – is that we have less pests and weeds in these beds. Somehow the crops that we harvest from the raised beds are prettier. Probably due to the lack of nature in this area of heavy cultivation. But I’m not complaining. The spinach is amazing, the radishes are smooth and perfectly shaped, the peas are vibrant and green and so on. Not too bad for a method that isn’t my first method of choice. It’s hard to admit that this method seems to be working out great. I still love my full soil garden, but if you live in an urban area, and this is the only way to go, don’t doubt, go for it!

Based on my first experiences these last couple of months, I have decided to grow mostly root vegetables in the raised beds, as I can’t grow these properly on our allotment this year, as I used a no-dig-method for the first year. I will also grow shadow loving leaf veggies in some beds that are placed under the tree. I will also create some shadow with a few tomato plants. I aim to create this shadow so that I can grow leafy greens close to the kitchen. It’s nice to be able to harvest spinach just before you place it in the pan. Don’t you think? I will have to see how heavy feeders like tomatoes grow in these boxes. I will come back to you on that in a few months time.

What more to tell…. Ah yes, the pots around the beds. These are mostly herbs. Herbs that we can harvest to go with the vegetables for dinner or lunch. I used to grow them in a herb spiral before, which I loved, but as we don’t have full soil around our house, I have chosen this method of growing above growing them (in a spiral) on the allotment. That would be too far from a kitchen garden (or permaculture) perspective. I really never know in advance which herbs I want to use for dinner. Do you?

That was the short tour around our eight raised beds. Across our raised beds I have this temporary setup in place. I think it will be up for another two or three weeks and then I can finally get rid of it until next year. But until then it houses all the seedlings that I’m mostly growing for the allotment. I’m also growing some flowers to plant out next to our raised beds. The owner of the house gave us access to a small piece of land next to the raised beds (under the fruit trees) and I will fill that soil up with flowers. Tons of flowers. An update on that part of the garden will probably follow in a few weeks, right now I’m de-weeding everything. And if you are wondering: the field of potatoes behind the raised beds is cultivated by the owner of this house. Our potatoes are up on the potager familial!