Growing as much food on as little land for as little money as possible

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We have added another ‘No Dig Bed’ to the allotment

Last year we didn’t grow that much veg because we started  late in the season and we didn’t really have anywhere to bring on seedlings etc but this year we want to grow a lot more so we needed another raised bed.

We decided to build it in this unused part of the allotment that had an old plastic composter and a pile of rubbish left by the last plotholder.

This is where we are going to build the new bed

We are basically extending an existing bed which was really interesting because I needed to remove the blocks forming the end of one of last years beds and it gave me a chance to see a cross section of a year old no dig bed.


Year old no dig bed cross section1

Year old no dig bed cross section1

You can see that the cardboard and the manure has completely broken down into a lovely rich soil and the original topsoil from the allotment has been drawn up into the raised bed presumably by worms.

Year old no dig beds cross section2

You can see the original soil level and the lighter coloured soil has been drawn up a good 4 inches.

I started by cutting the grass and weeds with the shears, I left all the cuttings in the bed as they will rot down and add to the fertility of the soil.

I then added a good layer of wilted nettles

Nettles added to new raised bed

Next I put a good 6 inches of well rotted manure.

The manure layer

And a very thin layer of grass clipping. It is important not to put too much grass on at one time or they wont rot down quickly enough.

The grass layer

And then a couple of inches of compost which gives a nice layer to plant into.

The finished bed

So this is the finished bed complete with canes for the runner beans.

The bed was given a good drenching between each layer.

This bed will be planted over the next week or so

Here is a great video on how to build a no dig bed.




Free Organic Fertiliser Number 1 Nettle Tea

You may have gathered that my favourite price for anything is FREE! There is no point spending loads of money growing vegetables when you can get the same results by spending nothing.

I am going to make a variety of free fertilisers over the next few weeks but to start off I am going to make one that anyone can make today, no matter where you live.

Nettles are everywhere and many people see them as a nuisance and something to be pulled out and thrown away. In permaculture there are no waste products only resources so with this in mind I decided to turn a patch of nettles at the allotment into a fantastic, nitrogen rich fertiliser.

Nettles tend to grow in very rich soil which is why you often see them growing on manure heaps. There is an area of our allotments where everyone discards there resources I mean waste and of course the nettles have gone wild.


Nettles growing on a compost heap

Nettles growing on a compost heap

I am only making up a small batch of Nettle Tea so I gathered a good bucket load of nettle tops. Now is a good time of the year to do this because the nettle are young and full of life.

One bucket of Nettles

One bucket of Nettles

You want to damage the nettles as much as possible to create a large surface area. I used a pair of shears to finely chop the nettles.  This reduced the volume of the nettles in the bucket to about a third so I got another bucket full of nettles and repeated the shredding stage until I ended up with the bucket about two thirds full.

I then cut a spare piece of chicken wire into a disk slightly larger than the bucket. I will use this to keep the nettles below the surface of the water.

Chopped up nettles ready to add the water

Chopped up nettles ready to add the water

Then I pushed the wire down onto the nettles and covered with rain water from the water butt.

Nettle tea brewing away to make fantastic nitrogen rich plant feed.

Nettle tea brewing away to make fantastic nitrogen rich plant feed.

I have put a loose lid on the bucket to stop the rain from diluting the mixture too much and now I will leave it for about a month to ferment and get really smelly.

Once done you can bottle it and add a splash to your watering can when watering your veg or tomatoes.

Over the weeks I will make some other liquid feeds from such things as Seaweed, Comfrey, Horse Manure and Chicken Poo.