The Lil’ Rascals

Plot 17 – The Earthly Comforts Garden

Recovering Plot 17
The Lil Rascals

Diary 15th September – 20th September

Plot 17 has a total of 16 raised bed areas, although only 15 of them are functional as enclosed spaces. The 16th bed has no sides, but the soil is still in situ as if there were walls.

The soils within the raised beds admittedly were not very good. This is hardly surprising in truth. Mike [first renter] initially created the beds in 2012 and shopped for fresh earth to fill the beds themselves. Pete [the last renter] took over the plot in 2017 and never once replenished any of the soil, even though they were losing soil through the grounds and the weather.

Pete would dig in rotted-down horse manure to supplement the raised beds but never once added additional either soil or compost to bulk the grounds and increase the soil levels up a healthier level for planting. So currently, the 15 raised beds are at various heights with depths ranging from 4″ to 6″ whilst the raised beds should maintain a soil depth of about 8″.

The 8″, given the size of the beds themselves, would be a good soil depth for single-walled beds, with perhaps 13 – 15″ for double-walled beds. By double walling, l am referring to the beds’ height. Our beds are either 8 or 16″ high.

Talking to Mike, as l do every Wednesday, he informs me that the soil heights used to be either 8 inches for singles or 16″ for doubles, so l have a landmark target to aim for if needed.

Five of the fifteen active raised beds are doubles, with the remaining ten being singles. However, all of them are at reduced soil heights. I will be ordering soils to bring the depths back up to reasonable levels and, over time, adding compost supplements to the beds to raise them higher. Ideally, l would like the heights at 8″ for the singles and 16″ for the doubles.

The purchased soils combined with my composts and vermicast surpluses will probably raise the depth heights by around 3 inches. However, by 2024 l believe all the beds will function at the desired soil depths.

It took Suze and myself three days to hand fork out and over the beds, to hoe and rake them and to mat them temporarily until mid-November when we will add the other soils and composts and allow them to rest up over winter and most of the new spring. By then, we should be able to sew and plant into them as we require.

With the winter of 2023, l will again mulch up and compost the beds ready for winter resting, and this method will slowly allow me to continue to build up the lost depths. Of course, by that time, not all of the beds will be covered as we have plans to grow winter crops.

I cannot see a time in the current gardening schedule when we would have all fifteen raised beds holding a crop at one time. Although in two years, that might be different, l hope that by then, all of the raised beds will have the appropriate soil depths.

So far, the beds, like all of the soils, have been very pebble-heavy, and rather annoyingly, l found all kinds of debris in the grounds, from bits of plastic and metal to chocolate bar wrappers. Again, as l have said before, this results from ready-to-use compost being applied directly without any sifting.

Some of the fifteen raised beds had crops left by Pete when he handed the allotment over to us. He ran out of both time and interest to remove the remaining vegetables. But even at his concession, he wasn’t leaving us anything of actual value.

He wasn’t far wrong. Many of the abandoned vegetables hadn’t been tended to for most of the spring and summer of 2022 and suffered from a lack of watering, weeding, or general maintenance and so succumbed to poor treatment.

Whilst Suze and l managed to salvage a small proportion of the pulled harvest, much more had to be thrown into the compost pile as waste.

However, that is history now. The future is all that matters, and l think it will be much brighter.

Diary Entry – 15th September

Suze and l managed to achieve a fair amount of clearing work on the 15th. We took off some vegetables, threw a lot more away though, hoed, raked and matted the beds.

Diary Entry – 16th September
Works continued for me on the 16th whilst Suze tended to other areas.

Diary Entry – 20th September
By the 20th September the last few raised beds had been completed. all that is requiring to be performed on the beds now is to change some of the matting for newer covers that are less holey and bedraggled and will offer more protection over the coming winter months.

This is the last episode of the mini-mini clearing series within the series itself and so for the time being the bulk of the initial clearing up phase has been completed. The tasks that are left are minimal. The next phase to be completed is the adding of the new soils in November. So till then – thanks for reading.

Catch you next time.

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

10 thoughts on “The Lil’ Rascals

  1. Oh, yes! The future of this Plot will definitely be brighter after all the TLC you and Suze have applied, Rory. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be looking forward to the next phase of this adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

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