A Quick Summary
The new design ideas this website is trying to promote are Sunken Tugboat vegetable planting bed (growing system), the soil Hydro-driver and Wood Chip sock as a raised bed edging material. All with the intention of helping the novice, the less physically able or the time pressured plot owners to overcome early disenchantment by reducing failures. See current designs below.
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Note: Planting success and growth is dependent on two major factors the Sun ( Day-length; UV levels and soil warmth ) and Transpiration. Transpiration is the “movement” of water and nutrients both down thru your soil and then back up through your plants roots and out through their leaves. We need to open up and adjust our soil so as not to impede this movement. Importantly for modern vegetable cultivars in challenging soils you do need some form of growing system. Farmers have powerful diesel Tractors and commercial Salad Nurseries have expensive greenhouses, all we have is a little sharpened spade, ‘lottie’ ingenuity and this Sunken tugboat planting bed system.
DEBUNKING RAISED BEDS (Boxed-in)
– I am with the old boys on boxed-in “Raised beds” 🙁 , I think they are a red herring, a “cul-de-sac of disenchantment”, only to be used as carrot / parsnip, deep soil boxes on stony plots. They lead to stagnation of the transpiration cycle, overly saturated roots and poor root development during the wetter & colder early spring period. They are a waste of expensive wood that within 2 seasons has rotted away slowly stealing valuable nitrates from your soil. During a rainy period, they retain the water saturation (anaerobic conditions around roots) for longer and then in the summer they dry out quicker due to the four sides of porous wood acting as a water evaporator. Also as the soil settles into this wooded sided box it sets likes concrete, not helpful to juvenile plant roots. The wood costs and requires expensive tools to construct and is then a static structure, fixed in that position until the wood has rotted away, limiting your ability to rotate crops.
+ HOWEVER… boxed-in “Raised beds” have got people thinking about and building alternative planting bed designs and growing systems. If you are determined to build something out of wood then its not too much of a leap to have a go at building using a free (recycled pallet) a cleverly designed pallet wood soil Hydro-driver 😎 . That through science and physics, completely overcomes the failings of boxed-in “Raised beds” 🙁 .
DISCOURAGING THE FARMING INSPIRED, TURNING THE WHOLE PLOT FOR NEW STARTERS
– The ‘Dig-for-victory’ old boys are a dwindling generation and are being replaced by the “millennials” generation. We are fickle and obsessed with the internet and the latest fads. We do something for a year, find it “Doh, too hard” then throw it in bin like Kevin & Perry the teenagers. Unfortunately the physically demanding farming inspired turning-the-whole-plot doesn’t appeal to this generation. Worse you end up with plots that have had all the good top soil scrapped off and dumped at either end. Then this large expanse of open soil is left to be colonised by weeds. Then they get bored, discouraged and give up, leaving the plot full of weeds and a little harder to return to productivity.
ENCOURAGING A ‘Bed-by-bed’ APPROACH
+ In the bottom North-east corner of your plot you should place your first Sunken Tugboat planting bed with its rounded end orientated towards the sun at 13:00 noon (BST). Your next beds will radiate, a couple to your right (West) and then working your way up to the top of your plot (Southern end). You only ever open up as much soil, as you plan to grow crops in that season.
PROMOTING THE “3Block” of Sunken Tugboat vegetable planting beds’, GROWING SYSTEM
+ Imagine the planting beds in this design as a long pillow that over the previous year has become flattened and has lost some organic content. We can’t improve all the soil across our plot but we can easily dress (add manure) to these narrow pillows of soil. As well as using our sharpened spade to chop them up and our hand fork to fluff ’em back up just prior to planting. Quickly turning over the part of the bed that you are going to plant into with the hand fork brings up some of the nutrient laden lower soil to the top. The bottom half of this pillow should also be sitting within the water table of our plot.
AIMS OF WEBSITE. MY DESIGN PRINCIPLES
+ #ONE: Come up with simple ideas to improve growing success in the least physically demanding way so as to be inclusive. Always using the basic soil that your plot comes with. Try to break that early disenchantment that new starters often face. Then with these early successes your knowledge improves and you can then introduce techniques for improving your soil.
+ #TWO: The design principles for my ideas follow these basic rules. Always try to use recycled materials that are easily obtainable and are not dangerous (glass) or polluting or cluttering. Can either be burned at end-of-life (wood) or recycled (tin / plastic) or “borrowed” for re-use by other plot owners. Its easy to hoard on a plot which can be unsightly and also create problems for the next owner. The size and proportions of the designs also need to be easy to handle. My Pallet wood Hydro-drivers were originally 1.2m but where then reduced to 1.1m which makes them easier to handle as well as their being more pallets slats that are 1.1m in length. I try to keep to standard dimensions with the designs for attractiveness and uniformity. All my duckboards, pallet wood soil Hydro-drivers and Block Paving quick-path holders are all 1.1m in length (3.5f). All my Wood chip socks are 3 metres in length. The designs are put together mainly using either recycled nails or 70mm yellow zinc coated TurboCoach screws which are self taping, hard wearing and reusable. If for some reason I have to give up the plot other allotmenteers will be able to pick up these standardised designs for use on their own plots.
Imagine if my idea was sponsored by the “National Allotment association” and x24 pallet wood Hydro-drivers and Wood chip sock sleeving and filling tubes were dropped off at every allotment site in the UK. Two Pallet wood Hydro-drivers per U-Bend shaped Goddess VG bed.
Q: Would you be tempted to have a try, if it was free?
Imagine if Wilko’s sold a 3m roll of Wood chip sock mesh for a couple of quid.
Q: Would you have a go at creating some Horse shoe shaped semi-raised deep beds with Wood chip sock border edging ?
Please leave a comment below if this summary has inspired or helped with your understanding of these new ideas ?