Sunday, 10 July 2011

Bed system versus growing in rows?

Right for the first time whilst writing this blog I am going to attempt a bit of education/debate. Anyone who has an allotment or visited one will know the two most popular ways of growing vegtables are either in rows(the traditional way) or Beds which can be raised or flat.

Planting in rows seems to be the most favoured way at our allotments and it tends to be people who have been working their plots for years or the older generation in my opinion. That is not to say newcomers don't do it this way. When growing this way the whole area is worked and you plant your vegtables in rows and gaps are left between each row so you can walk between your plants to hoe and water. I think this way is bloody hard work and if you do not use the correct digging methods or tools you could be in for back trouble later in life. The reason it is harder is you have dig over the whole area every Spring or Autumn as you have compacted the soil down by walking on it day in day out for months on end. I feel you also have to be hoeing more regular in between the plants. I also believe you do not get as big a crop yield through this method, but if anyone would like to prove me wrong please do. The advantage to using this method I find is how aesthetically pleasing vegtables look growing in rows be it big fat cabbages, beetroot or carrots.

On our allotment we use the bed method the top end of the plot are no dig raised beds and the bottom end are flat beds, which we fork over and add organic matter ie compost and manure. Using the bed method we plant our vegtables closer than the seed packet and books tell us but still get fantastic crops. We do use a hoe but most of the weeding is done by hand. Another reason I went for raised beds at the top end of the plot is that it is prone to flooding so this also eliminates the problem of not being able to grow overwintering vegtables in certain areas of our allotment.

To sum it up the bed method is my preffered choice on the allotment what is yours? Maybe its because I'm a lazy git or maybe  not as daft as to want to be digging over 300 square yards every year. Although at our site there is a farmer who comes with his tractor and can plough and rotavate the lot for £30 every year which a lot of people have done. Whatever method you use it is down to personal choice and what suits each individual although you may get a few head shakes from the old boys who know best.

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