Setting up our new no-dig vegetable garden

It’s on. The new 14 x 20 ft polytunnel was installed and five cubic metre bags of (somewhat woody) compost were delivered last week – representing the two biggest expenses of setting up the new no-dig vegetable garden. We sourced free pallet wood from a nearby business and several lengths of slightly rain-damaged wood were delivered free of charge from our local hardware/lumber yard to start constructing raised beds. We’ve made two beds so far (nine to go), and have started laying out the sides in the polytunnel.

We plan to lay four to five inches of compost into the bed frames directly onto the grass. The first crops to be sown outside will be broad beans (see below), garlic and spring onions in the next week or so.

The sub-zero cold snap earlier this month has delayed or prevented germination of some seeds sown in pots and modules in our sunroom. Though we’re delighted to see that at least one variety of tomato (Mortgage Lifter) we sowed has germinated (we sowed five types), as well as some of the onion seeds. In the absence of heat pads or hot beds, when the cold weather hit we wrapped up the seed pots and modules in a combination of cling-film (with air holes punched in) and horticultural fleece; we moved the tomatoes to be close to the sunroom radiator. We have placed large bottles of water next to the radiator to warm up when the heating is on, and distribute the heat when it isn’t, though we’re not convinced of the effectiveness of this.

A couple of precious onions that germinated thanks to a combination of cling film and fleece coverings in our sunroom.

Recently germinated cold-resistant broad bean seedlings are thriving, though only a few of our beetroot and parsley seeds germinated.

Our two varieties of early potatoes are showing healthy chits, and will be going into the ground in two to three weeks (six weeks is the time recommended for chitting/sprouting seed potatoes in advance of sowing). We will also planting potatoes in grow bags – c. 60 to 80 litre sacks half-filled for later earthing up.

In the meantime, we’re hoping for a few dry days over the coming fortnight to try to get some final cutting back done before nesting season starts.

Much to do.

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