Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Raised Beds Winter Managemaent

The weather here in the UK is a bit strange. We have gone from -17 c to +10 c all in the space of 38 hours. If I were a plant, I would be feeling a bit dizzi, I think.

So the snow of last week has gone and we are now into half term. When I was at school in the late forties, half term was a time to clear everybody out of the school; turn off the heating and open all of the windows for five days.

The idea behind that was to clear out all of the bugs that gather were people and heat get together in the deep mid winter. It was a good idea and worked very well and as far as I remember not many people came down with colds and the like.

This practice can be used in your garden to a certain extent. On my allotment (240 plots) there are many people who cover their beds with old carpets or plastic sheeting to keep the soil warm and the weeds at bay. To me, this looks very untidy particular when it is windy because you can never keep the plastic down no matter how many weights are used. There is also the cost of the plastic to take into consideration, which can be quite high. The only time I have used this method is if I am not using a bit of ground of some months.

I just leave my raised beds bare during the winter months (those without crops that is) This lets the weather get at the land and clear it out of “bugs”.

Take the last week; my raised beds have had deep snow on them, which contains nitrogen, and hard frost, which will kill many a lurking bug. If I had covered them I would of lost out on the free nitrogen from the snow and the bugs would have been very snug under the plastic where the birds’ by the way cannot get at them.

As for the idea that the soil is kept warm under plastic. It might well be true but at some point you have to take the plastic away to plant or sow and after a very hours the soil, I am sure is the same temperature as an uncovered raised bed.

I do not have any scientific proof of this; but if you get up in the morning and throw back the covers of you bed, within a few hours the bed is the same temberture as the surrounding air; would this not be true of a raised bed!

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