Ahoy there flower chums!
I have taken on a new patch this year. It’s the patch from Hell. No greenhouse, no water (Other than the canal which is about 50 meters away)…it’s pretty much made up of Couch grass (Couch grass is my archenemy) and thistles….and to top it all off, there are a few bunnies lolloping about. The patch is 150 square meters of old cow pasture. It is at Whixhall Marina, in Shropshire and is on land with a permissive path…so therefore it’s open for anybody to come and laugh out loud at me.
My other patch is at the wonderful Taraloka Buddhist retreat centre. This is the patch from Heaven…or perhaps the patch from Nirvana would be more apt. This is a large and deep eight by two meter raised bed, filled with a mix of compost and top soil. It’s a peach of flower bed….I have a crush on it.
The two techniques I use for prepping flower beds are, ‘Minimal Dig’ and ‘Snoop Doggy Dig’.
‘Minimal Dig’ method for cut flower patches.
I will be attempting this method at the Marina Patch. Presently the patch is covered in weed fabric. It’s been on for 12 weeks. Sometimes weed fabric is enough to kill off the grass…on this occasion it isn’t. I am steadily covering the patch in two or three layers of cardboard (Which I am getting from the neighbouring cafe.) On top of this I will be adding a thick layer of very well rotted horse manure (and then replacing the weed fabric until I’m ready to sow.) On my wanderings around the locality with Flash we have met plenty of rural types who are willing to let us take away their horsey poo poo kaka. Obviously to buy enough compost to cover 150 square meters to a depth of say 15cm would be ruinous. (Compost calculator) This combo should block out 100% of the light to the couch grass….and in theory, should knock it out of existence. This, of course, remains to be seen.
Some of my flowers will be grown in pots and then planted out in mid May, some will be directly sown into the patch…it will be touch and go. Flash says only a maverick genius could pull off such a stunt…but I think he’s angling for a Digestive.
‘Snoop Doggy Dig’ method for cut flower patches.
This method involves, as you may have guessed, some digging. Good old fashioned fork dug bed. No dig is very popular because of its eco credentials. It leaves the carbon in the ground but in my experience gardeners then drive half way around the country picking up cardboard and compost and rack up a much bigger carbon footprint. It’s my view that any eco benefit and soil health benefit is negligible. I say digging to a fork depth (a spit) and adding organic matter every year, is just fine and dandy. You will end up digging out your spent plants to a similar depth anyhow. That’s my view….please don’t cancel me. ;)
So I will simply fork the bed over to loosen the soil…try to break it down to a ’tilth’ by bashing it with the back of the fork. Then dig in some wonderful homemade compost which the Buddhist community have made….I’m sure they won’t mind sharing some of their compost with me because….well…they’re Buddhists.
One thing to point out is that while I can crack on with the work I need to do on the minimal dig bed this January, I wouldn’t bother with any Snoop Doggy Dig until the ground has dried out in perhaps March…otherwise you will just make a mess and make yourself miserable….and I don’t want you to be muddy and miserable.
I hope your flowery plans are going well for 2024.
Thank you for your support. The Higgledy seed shop of dreams is open for business. We are hanging on despite unholy rising costs and have kept our own price increases to a minimum…and seed counts remain high. :)
PS Yes, I know ‘Snoop Doggy Dig’ is a silly name.