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This Friday I took the day off from volunteering to spend some time preparing new beds in my own growing space, taking inspiration from my time with Ru and the team up at OrganicLea.

Since taking on this small allotment in 2010 i’ve paced myself on how much i’ve ‘bitten off’, first starting with just the little patch already prepared, and then adding the large bed down the side of the south facing fence (with the help of my lovely parents and boyfriend).

This year, I feel confident enough to add more beds which will take me to the edge of the allotted area. In this photo below, my space is the area in the front, the middle beds (from behind the kale palm tree and been poles) is that of one neighbour, and the beds at the far end are managed by another, who uses them for his bee hives. This unofficial allotment is part of the garden connected to the Tenants and Residence Association house in our estate in London, SE5.

The site as was for 2012.

The site as was for 2012.

As it will just be me creating these beds, it’s likely to take a couple of days. This is how far I’ve got on day one:

Step One: Prepare the site

Leaves collected from around the site.

Leaves collected from around the site.

Leaves piled up into one of those composting bags.

Leaves piled up into one of those composting bags.

Step Two: Marking out

I’ve gone for two narrower beds which should be easy to reach over, leaving 40 cm between them for moving around easily. I’ve also made sure there is still plenty of room before the beds start as this is where the water butts and compost heap are accessed from.

The two new beds marked out with string, just under a meter wide.

The two new beds marked out with string, just under a meter wide.

Step Three: Preparing the ground

Having consulted the books on how best to prepare raised beds, there seemed to be two options, dig or no dig. Knowing the site as I do from last year, I know just how many weeds are in this small patch. Not wanting to compromise the growing conditions, i’ve gone for the dig option. Although harder work, in this situation I think it’s the best option…

Weeds with massive roots... hopefully all dug up now!

Weeds with massive roots… hopefully all dug up now!

One of the many massive weeds dug up to prepare the new beds, they reminded me of triffids!

One of the many massive weeds dug up to prepare the new beds, they reminded me of triffids!

Two new beds for the 2013 growing year.

Two new beds for the 2013 growing year.

The two new beds are half-way there. Next week I plan to edge them both with wood that’s been donated by my family and then fill with more compost and worm cast.

My plan for 2013 growing year, now with proper rotation system in place : )

My plan for 2013 growing year, now with proper rotation system in place : )

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3 thoughts on “The Allotment – New Beds (Part 1)

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