For many years now, we had been planting our vegetables in conventional patches in the field. We we never happy with that as first these patches were not very approachable, secondly with all the walking around they would get compacted & need tilling each season, and thirdly as we pulled out the vegetables in batches, the rest of the patch became infested with weeds. To put an end to all this, we decided to make a raised bed vegetable garden this year!
The first task was to explain to the farm help what we were planning, and get their buy in. I've realised, that if the help is not convinced, they would go through the motion but ensure that the project fails in the end! Luckily in this case they were excited and happy about building this raised bed garden.
We started with marking out the circles and lines using a measuring tape, some cord and lime for markings. We marked out concentric circles, keeping the beds about 4.5 feet wide, and the walking paths in between about 2 feet wide. The 4.5 feet wide bed ensured that it was reachable from the walking paths on either side.
Once we had marked out the entire design, we started work on one bed at a time. We dug the bed about 8-10 inches deep (could have gone down to 12 inches too) and removed the earth into the walking path area. We then put a layer of thick newspaper at the bottom of the bed. This will prevent weeds from growing out in the bed.
Next we put thin branches from our recently pruned peach and mango trees at the bottom of this bed. This thin would will decompose over time providing a rich source of nutrients, and will also keep the bed well aerated as it breaks down.
We also added some leafy matter to the bed. And then finally put back the soil we had removed back into the bed. Along with the soil we mixed farm yard manure as well.
We then took large stones we found on the property and fitted them into the edges of the dug out bed, keeping most of the stone above the ground. The soil was piled up higher than the walking path, and kept in place with the help of the stones. The stones will ensure that excess water leaves the raised bed through its gaps.
We added a whole lot of compost, leafy matter and farm yard manure to the top of this bed, and it was now ready for sowing the seeds. We planted all our winter vegetables here, towards the end of September/ early October - radish, carrots, turnip, tomatoes, beans, peas, spinach, mustard, fenugreek, amaranth, lettuce, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower and many more. A couple of weeks into the winter, we also sowed some herbs like oregano, rosemary and thyme. Not just that, we also sowed seeds of winter flowers as we believed that the vegetable garden will look perfect with some colourful flowers in between!
Take a look at the photos in this gallery, to get an idea of how the Raised Bed vegetable garden looks now!
See this video for more details!