Preparing beds for planting

by Jane Moore

We allotmenteers are made of stern stuff and have been out weathering the storm and preparing our beds for planting.

Preparing beds for planting by raking the soilThe recent stormy weather has played havoc with my crop protection - my elaborate constructions of cane, twine and netting are no match for the weather we've had!

But we allotmenteers are made of stern stuff and have been out weathering the storm and preparing our beds for planting. This allotment business is not for the faint-hearted.

I have a certain routine to preparing my beds for planting, which is dependent on my crop rotation plan. This way I know which beds to add organic matter to and which ones to leave. The beds dedicated to growing hungry crops, such as beans and courgettes will need plenty of organic matter added, such as garden compost or well-rotted horse manure.

Beds dedicated to growing root crops, such as carrots and parsnips will not have organic matter added to them. The richness of manured soil causes the roots to fork, becoming terrifically deformed and a nightmare to prepare for the pot. But they are really good for the kids' 'make an animal from a vegetable' competitions.

My root beds take a bit of care and consideration; I usually plan to grow my roots in a bed that hasn't been composted for a couple of years, to ensure the soil is not too rich and nutrient-heavy for them.

The ideal time for improving soil is said to be the autumn for clay soils and spring for sandy ones. However, I usually add compost to my clay beds now. It always bothers me that all the lovely nutrients in the compost are leached away by winter rains so I go against convention and leave composting until now.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Preparing beds for planting
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 17/04/2007 at 21:51

I have just moved to a moderate size garden and I love it. I have 3 beds, 2 are approx 3ft x 6ft long and the other is my flower bed which is about 15ft long & 3ish foot wide as angled. Flowers seeds, bulbs and bedding plants in the flower bed. In the first veg bed, I chitted some potatoes and now I have green leaves above the ground (all very exciting). In the other bed, I have Cougettes, which look like they have died. They were growing lovely on my window sill. Also added Carrot, spring Onion and mixed lettuce seeds. How long before they come up, so impatient. Also bought a compost bin. Love gardening. Speak soon.

Gardeners' World Web User 14/03/2008 at 15:00

You've got me worried now! I'm growing carrots and parsnips in those big potato bags this year as I neither have a large garden nor an allotment! The thing is that I've had to fill the bags with something and that something happens to be compost (peat-free from the garden centre) - is this going to be too rich for them? I now have visions of loads of forked carrots and parsnips but no children to make funny characters out of them, unless you count my husband, of course ;-)

Gardeners' World Web User 14/03/2008 at 20:45

I started last year with a vegetable plot at the back of our garden. I planted potatoes, carrots; I still dug some up in January and they were still good to eat,beetroot i still have some in the ground dont know what to do with them, and lots off different salads. We also had one courgette plant that gave plentifull of fruit. It is amazing the satisfaction i got of growing my own vegetables. Today i was in my garden putting some homemade compost on one of the beds ,well yes it rained but i quite enjoyed it. Looking forward to put in my first potatoes. one question can I put Brussels sprouts and onions in the bed i had my potatoes in last year? Have fun with your allotment i certainly will have fun planting in the next weeks coming.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/03/2008 at 10:01

What was the oil mentioned on Thursday when treating camelias for a black sooty coating?

Gardeners' World Web User 25/03/2008 at 13:32

Please can anyone help? My rhubarb is in its second year and has just started to produce new shoots, however due to some building work I will need to move it to a new home. Will I be able to do this now or will it ruin this year's crop?

See more comments...