How To Create A Vegetable Bed

Although you may be lucky and have good soil in which any vegetable feels at home in, most of us need to nurture a vegetable bed to maturity and maximum fertility. Martyn Loach emphasizes that before creating a vegetable bed, you need to know your soil. What type it is and the pH.

Created by Martyn Loach on Tuesday, 1st of September, 2015.
Updated on Tuesday, 15th of May, 2018.


An allotment

So your first purchase should be a pH kit to find out whether you have a acid or alkaline soil. Then see what type of soil you have. The different types and how they can be improved are:-

Clay

The main problem with clay is drainage, as a result it should be nutrient rich but hard to work. Dig over in the autumn, introducing organic matter, and let the weather do its work. Lime will improve drainage, but you must balance the amount you use with what you want to grow. If it’s very heavy, work in course grit, you can also use raise beds to help the soil both dry out and warm up.

Sand

Easy to work, but any nutrients are easily drained, so large amounts of organic matter can increase its water retentiveness and additional fertilizer can be used to replace nutrient deficiency. Try to mulch as much as you can and cover the soil with lots of vegetation all year round to minimize nutrient loss. If you are growing vegetables, sow green manure, when this is dug in it will add nutrients and improve the soil structure.

Silt

With a structure similar to clay, the biggest problem is drainage. It’s unwise to to walk on this type of earth when it is wet as you will only compact it even more. Dig it over in the autumn so that frost can help to break it down, introduce coarse grit and organic matter and use raised beds to warm up and dry out the soil.

Chalk

This, similar to sand, is a free draining soil from which nutrients can easily be leached. It’s also very alkaline. Digging in the autumn is not really necessary, leave that to the spring before you sow anything, and as there’s probably not a lot of top soil, don’t dig too deep. Add organic matter to increase acidity and aid drainage. Make sure that the ground has a good covering of vegetation throughout the year, including green manure in the winter and mulch with peat, grass cuttings and manure.

Peat

This type of soil has a tendency to be acid so use lime to balance the pH especially for vegetables and fruit. Peat is made up of decomposed vegetation so there is no need to dig or add any organic matter, but you may have to use an organic fertilizer to combat any nutrient deficiency.

When creating a vegetable bed you will realise that organic matter, whether it’s compost or manure, has a big part to play in improving soil. Return it to the earth by digging in over the autumn and using it as a spring mulch. As well as feeding the soil with nutrients, it will improve drainage in heavy soils and increase the water holding capacity of light soil.

Alternative soil conditioners can be used such as mushroom compost, wool shoddy, seaweed, composted pine bark, spent hops and peat. What you use and how much will depend on your soil’s analysis and the plants you wish to grow. For example mushroom compost is slightly alkaline so will be good for acid soil, pine bark has no nutrients so is best used as a mulch, while seaweed is particularly rich in trace elements.

Soil matures over a number of years, don’t expect a quick fix. Organic matter and conditioners used conjunction with good management, such as crop rotation, do increase productivity, particularly If you take the time to analyse exactly what type of soil you have and therefore what it needs.

Creating a vegetable bed is key to growing your own vegetables. How you nurture it has a great effect on how successful your vegetable growing becomes.

Related Articles

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

As winter draws in and Christmas beckons, indoor plants, floral and foliage decorations assume greater significance. David Coton suggests how you can transform your home with the colourful interest of seasonal plants.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Tuesday, 23rd of October, 2018.

How To Choose, Plant And Maintain A Fruit Tree

How To Choose, Plant And Maintain A Fruit Tree

Late autumn and winter is the perfect time to plant fruit trees and, whatever sized garden you have, Martyn Loach thinks there's space for a tree if you choose carefully and manage correctly.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Tuesday, 4th of September, 2018.

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

As part of a project designed to sow ideas, grow inspiration and cultivate futures, 300 London schools are growing their own picnic this summer and their reward could be a £500 voucher from GardenSite.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 25th of May, 2018.

Take Your Own Plant Cuttings

Take Your Own Plant Cuttings

Propagating by taking cuttings, whether from your own plants or ones you admire in neighbouring gardens, is a fantastic way of increasing the variety of plants in your own garden free of charge, and all you need are a sharp knife and patience.

Author: David Hall

Written by David Hall.
Published on Monday, 14th of May, 2018.

comments powered by Disqus

Author

Martyn Loach

Editor in Chief

View Profile

RSS

View RSS Feed

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

What To Do In The Garden In November

What To Do In The Garden In November

David Coton suggests that there are plenty of gardening jobs that need to be done in November, from why you shouldn't throw away your fallen leaves to how to take care of your vegetable patch.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 27th of October, 2017.

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

As winter draws in and Christmas beckons, indoor plants, floral and foliage decorations assume greater significance. David Coton suggests how you can transform your home with the colourful interest of seasonal plants.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Tuesday, 23rd of October, 2018.

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens?

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens?

Chickens aren't difficult to look after, all they require is a constant supply of water and regular food. As Martyn Loach explains, you should keep an eye open for any ailments, and they'll need to be cleaned out once a week.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Monday, 15th of October, 2018.

How Do I Construct And Maintain Timber Garden Decking?

How Do I Construct And Maintain Timber Garden Decking?

Timber garden decking never seems to lose its popularity, and why should it, when it's such a useful way of extending your living and entertaining space. Andy Taylor explains why decking is so easy to install and how best to look after it.

Author: Andrew Taylor

Written by Andrew Taylor.
Published on Thursday, 11th of October, 2018.