At 58 years old, I've had a lightbulb moment:
You know - I don't need to spend my whole day in the garden, trying to be a veggie-growing superhero. But we do absolutely love eating fresh, homegrown goodies. There's something magical about enjoying what we've grown ourselves.
Inspired by the gut health guru Tim Spector and his advice to eat 30 different plants each week, I've decided to embark on a no dig no hassle easy gardening adventure. So, I’ve turned old water tanks into raised beds specifically for growing summer salads and veggies. And of course I'm using the worm compost and bokashi that I made from our kitchen scraps to feed the plants. In my view this is recycling at its finest! Not only does it reduce waste, but it also gives our greens an extra boost.
Here's what I’ve set up in case it’s of use to you.
Selecting a suitable location: I chose a sunny spot in my garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. I made sure the area was easily accessible for watering and maintenance – right by the tap and hose and visible from the kitchen so I remember to eat the produce and to stop any potential problems:
- Preparing the bed: I used an old water tank from the farm as my raised bed. You can buy them new from a farm supplier for around £100. After cleaning it thoroughly, I drilled a few drainage holes in the bottom to ensure proper water drainage.
- Creating a drainage layer: To help drainage and prevent waterlogging, I filled the bottom of the water tank with a layer of stones or gravel of variable sizes. Thank you Farmer Phil.
- Layering the soil: I wanted to create a nutrient-rich growing medium, so I followed this layering sequence:
- Bottom layer: I evenly spread a layer of topsoil over the drainage layer. This provided a solid base for my plants' roots to grow.
- Garden compost layer: I added a layer of garden compost on top of the topsoil. Garden compost improves soil fertility, moisture retention, and overall soil structure.
- Topsoil layer: I applied another layer of topsoil over the garden compost. This layer provided additional nutrients and a stable medium for plant roots.
- Bokashi bin and worm compost layer: I also incorporated the contents of my bokashi bin and additional worm compost as the top layer. This further enriched the soil and introduced beneficial microbes. (By the way I have just dug down into the mix and the bokashi has completely disappeared which means all those microbes have gone bananas).
- Topsoil layer: I applied another shallow layer of topsoil over the top and mixed and raked the surface
- I mixed the top layers and added a few leftover garden worms and composting worms from Wigglys to help the whole process.
- Planting the salad and vegetable plants: With the layers in place, I was ready to plant my salad and vegetable plants. Here's what I did:
- I purchased some lovely healthy plants from the Old Railway Garden Centre in between Hay and Brecon. They had a great selection, and I haven’t got the patience for seeds…
- I dug small holes in the prepared soil, spacing them according to the instructions and planting distances for each plant variety.
- I made sure not to damage the roots, and placed them in the holes. I then backfilled the holes with soil, ensuring the plants were properly supported.
- After planting, I watered them.
Care and maintenance: To ensure the success of my raised bed, I followed these care tips:
- Watering regularly: I’m keeping the soil evenly moist by watering the plants as needed. Raised beds often require more frequent watering, especially during hot summer months.
- Monitoring pests and diseases: I’ve been looking for damage and so far only one plant (a cucumber) has died… I count this as success currently…
- Regular harvesting: I’m ready and waiting...
By following these steps, I successfully set up my raised beds, and we're eagerly anticipating the bountiful harvest of flavourful summer salads and vegetables. It's been an enjoyable and guilt-free experience thus far. If you're not naturally inclined towards gardening, I highly recommend giving it a try. It's a fantastic way to make the most of the rich compost and nutrient-packed liquid feed generated by your Bokashi Kit, Worm Composter, or Garden Composter. Embracing this process allows us to nourish our plants while reducing waste and fostering sustainability. So go ahead and dig into the joys of gardening, and reap the rewards of homegrown goodness.
All best, Heather