There are many ways in which you could create a good bed for your vegetable plants. We are going to describe how to do one type for now – that of a Trench Bed (TB).
This model was especially developed for water stressed African conditions and has been used with huge success in many township as well as suburban gardens.
It is also ideal for those who believe they don’t have space for a vegetable bed, as all you need is one meter by 2 meters of ground space.
This is the hardest part of your Home Garden, but once it is done, this bed will last you for 5 years! So do this properly and your space and water is optimized and you are able to feed a family of 4 on such a bed.
The size of your trench bed will depend on the size of your garden. It can be any length, but should be 1 meter in width and 1 meter from another bed, so that you can reach across easily enough and walk between them when caring for your plants.
- Firstly the size is marked and here a spade can be used if you do not have a tape measure. 1 spade length is approximately 1 meter.
- Push 4 sticks into the ground where you want your trench & start digging. The walls of the TB should be dug straight down.
- Make a pile of the top Soil (which is roughly the top 30cm deep) on the one side of the bed.
- Then make a piel of the next 15cm, which is your sub soil, on the other side of the bed.
Filling the Trench Bed
Now the trench bed is ready to be filled with layers of various things that are found in your home and garden or collected from the street and even dump sites.
- The bottom and sides are lined with cardboard or newspaper.
- Twigs & sticks, bones, rusty tins, vegetable & fruit peels & cuttings, tea bags, manure, eggshells and sawdust are the first to go in – build about 20cm of all this stuff.
- Now add a layer of your sub soil of about 10cm deep.
- Time to add a 10cm layer of dry brown leaves which you sprinkle with some wood ash.
- Add another 10cm layer of sub soil.
- Next a thick layer of wet green garden cuttings like leaves and grass.
- A thin Layer of manure can now be added.
- Now some water must be added.
- Tear strips of newspaper, wet them & add them next.
- Now a 1/3 of the top soil can now be added.
- More dry brown leaves, some water & another 1/3 of topsoil.
- The last bit of topsoil is mixed with compost and added to the top of the bed. It should be raised +-20cm above the ground. (The bed will sink as the bottom rots)
- The Bed is now ready for planting your seeds and seedlings.
Now it’s time to plant – before your seedlings are too big.
As soon as you have planted the seedlings (with correct spacing) spread mulch neatly around all your seedlings. Mulch is very necessary for a few reasons… this prevents moisture loss from your bed and it protects your seedlings from many pests like snails.
Lastly place newspaper all around the outside of the trench, wet it and cover it with mulch as well. This also keeps moisture around your bed and can at a later stage be added to the top of your bed.
When your seedlings are taken from a protected little seed box and are planted into an open bed, they often suffer a little shock. Give them a good dose of your horse manure water, as illustrated before and water well. If it’s cold cut through plastic beverage bottles and create little incubators to keep them warm and protected.
By Vinny Drew
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