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Planting and maintaining raised beds

Garden Life
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Raised beds offer a number of advantages. They are easy to maintain, look attractive and are plenty large enough to provide a small crop.

Seasonal planting in raised beds

A raised bed can be used as a kitchen garden all year round. For example, you can sow the seeds or plant your first salads under foil from as early as mid March. You can then use the space between the rows of salads the whole summer long to grow radishes, onions, chives and more. From July, you can plant autumn and winter salads like sugar loaf or endives. Lamb's lettuce can be sown from August. If you cover autumn and winter salads with vegetable fleece before it snows, they can simply be harvested after the snow — and lamb's lettuce can be picked right into spring.

Mulching raised beds

A two-centimetre thick mulch in raised beds reduces weed growth and keeps the earth moist for longer. Where available, chopped Miscanthus, or Elephant Grass, is perfect for this. To improve soil ventilation under the cover, it is a good idea to loosen the soil in the bed weekly—but at the latest after heavy rain—using a manual cultivator. The trick is to do this so skilfully that the mulch layer is preserved as far as possible.

Expert tip

To prevent the lower leaves of salad plants from spoiling in wet weather, plant them with their globes of earth high up. Instead of placing the globes of earth completely in the soil, just press them lightly (approximately one-third of their height) into the freshly dug soil in the raised bed and keep moist. The salad will be firmly rooted within a few days. The benefit of this approach is that planting the salads higher increases the distance between the leaves and earth, which allows the lower leaves to dry out better.