Creating a permaculture bed

I bet you are glad you won’t be seeing grasses for a while. All that bleached beige.

But wait. What is this? More of the damn stuff. Ah, but I am putting it to good use. It is now covering what I hope will be a solution to the drought stricken top potager area.

This vegetable garden is so situated as there is a spring just above the hill.  A natural spring that can usually supply this soil with a bit of moisture all year.

Except in drought seasons. So that basically wiped out my potato and brassica crops last year.

Well, the yields were down and this whole area was pretty miserable.

Step forward New Year’s Resolution #4. Sort potager. Create a permaculture bed.

The top part of this vegetable garden is pure granite. A thin scraping of soil which cannily manages to permit the germination of the most tremendous weeds, but not much in the way of workable soil.

So when Nicolas (the builder in today’s story) was asking me where we were going to create this huge long permaculture bed, I daringly suggested as high up and close to the top fence as possible.

‘On the rock?’

‘Yep, on the rock please.’

Cue eye rolling. I missed it as I was too busy stockpiling a tremendous quantity of branches and sticks needed for the base layer of my new bed.

So while I was trudging all over the mountain picking up sticks, Nicolas set to work. We marked out where the bed was going to go. The he dug out the soil. Or scratched the bare earth and blunted his mattock on the rock, if you will.

The trench is about 20cm deep. Soil to one side. In went the sticks. Plus a few of those tremendous chestnut pickets lying about.  Actually we wrestled over them. As close as we come to bickering. I want them to hold down the hideous black plastic behind the fence. Nicolas wanted to populate the entire trench.  The compromise was a gentle looting of my stock and I was sent off to get yet more sticks.

Over the branches and sticks went the slowly rotting miscanthus cuttings from last year, plus moss and weedings that I have also been stockpiling in bags for weeks.

Then once we had a nice bed, back went the soil to form this fabulous mound of potential.

And then I lovingly added as many of the cuttings from the ornamental grass work as possible over the top. No bare soil.  I would prefer to use hay as then I will really belong to the permaculture community, but for now, I’m thrilled with the prospect of having a better place to grow my brassicas in two years time.

And explain to my neighbour Jean Daniel why it looks like I’ve buried a horse under a mound of soil in the vegetable garden.

I think it looks more like a woolly mammoth. Or a squashed herd of Highland Cows.  Fingers crossed it will produce. More than raised eyebrows and a laugh.