Mulching and raised beds

With the rising cost of fuel those of us living in urban areas can benefit from free woodchips from tree surgeons operating in our area. The transport diesel costs make it more advantagous to offer this resource for free to those close by.

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This is the remains of the second delivery we have taken for free from a tree surgeon who dropped by recently. We are distributing on the paths between raised beds etc.

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There never seems to be enough time to weed so minimising the weeding to begin with seems the best solution. The great thing is that we are all the while feeding the soil beneath the paths, ,minimising compaction and soil loss and over time the material will compost. This will take longer than bark mulch which is already partially decomposed.

I like very much the principal of never leaving the soil bare or uncovered and in this way we are mimicing a forest floor with its fallen leaves and rotting timbers.

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The great thing about mulching is the consistency of the aestethic and the ease which this newness or freshness can be renewed by topping up.

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Back at the house I have been muching all the paths between the raised beds at the rear of the garden. In an area with some overhanging trees and receiving plenty of leaf fall in the autumn. I had considered using this in other grassed areas but for now will monitor the effect on slug populations etc. I also want to leave grassed areas for the ducks. The timber board shown above is used to collect slugs. I turn this over and the Ducks follow behind.

In this pic we are preparing an area with raised beds. Last year we grew potatoes here so will hopefully follow this with Legumes. We are making beds 20 foot long, 4 foot wide and with 2 foot paths. By digging out the paths and being careful to not dig into subsoil we are moving the topsoil onto raised beds creating  a greater growing depth . Previousely this area was paved and we found a gravel layer approximately 3/4 foot below the surface when making a potato clamp last year.

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To lay the bark mulch we used two boards in the foreground to direct the drop. When the mulch paths are fairly level we will use timber ( recycled decking) to make an edge to the beds and prevent the soil spilling out onto the mulched paths. We considered using concrete slabs which are in abundance but this may make thing more difficult to reverse in the future as to be layed aesthetically would need bedding in gravel and sand etc.

We skimmed the top sods for a new paved walkway and set aside the sods to rot under plastic

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I personally like a rougher aesthetic using what’s to hand rather than shiny new.

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A new post and rail fence being constructed with a 3 foot bed. We are using the compost from the corner heap to build up soil quality as its very sandy and gritty. from previosly being graveled. Shrubs and climbers requiring free draining will do well here.

Taughts:

Experiment with mulching on raised beds with no dig,growing throught the mulch.

Look carefully at the source of the mulch material as this I have heard can effect soil ph if conifer predominates expecially on the beds. Ph can be monitored and adjusted however.

Integration of ducks to reduce slug population may be necessary.

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