Most modern gardens are usually fairly small and growing space can be in short supply. To maximise the productivity from your land requires 3 things:
1 - To make the best use of the space available.
2 - Extend the growing season as much as possible.
3 - To ensure that you get the highest yields possible from your vegetables.
One way of doing all of these is to grow using a Deep Bed System.
The crops are grown on a bed approximately 4 feet wide with paths on each side and once in action the beds are NEVER walked on, with all the work being done from the paths.
First of all mark out where you intend to place the bed. Now the hard work begins. You will need to double dig the bed and work in 1 barrow load of manure, compost or spent mushroom compost, to each the Square Yard, incorporating it into all layers of the soil. This will have the effect of raising the height of the soil by approximately 4 - 6 inches. The bed can be edged by using boards if you wish. They contains the soil and make the bed look tidier, but is not obligatory to use them.
By digging in this manure/compost you will increase the fertility of the soil and the double digging will allow the roots of the plants to penetrate deeper and so enable them to take up more nutrients. This makes it possible to reduce the spacings of the plants without any loss of yield. The vegetables are not planted in long rows but in short staggered rows across the bed, just far enough apart that they will touch when fully grown, thus forming blocks. This saves a lot of space that would normally be lost between the rows. Compared to the traditional method of planting in a row, it has been found that over 3 times the yield can be gained by using the Deep Bed System.
As this method is very intensive it is important to keep up the supply of nutrients to the plants. A general fertiliser should be applied before planting and topped up with liquid feed at regular interval throughout the growing season.
The double digging also improves drainage and so the soil will warm up that bit quicker in spring, also making it possible to plant earlier. To extend the growing season even further a cloche can be made to cover part or all of the bed. (See Plan for Deep Bed Cloche)
Each spring, the bed can be dug over as normal, with plenty of manure/compost being worked into the soil and a general fertiliser applied.
© copyright 1999, P. A. Owen