Sorting raised beds which sink

Ah, 2020.

If I had to put the good things on one side of the ledger I would definitely put heightened community engagement (a local Facebook group for the villages andround here), camping trips in the Alps with Paul and Alice, building a climbing wall, almost finishing a huge renovation project. And emptying out the cellars (a job that has languished for 14 years.) Oh, and building the raised beds and re-doing the potager. Was that this year? Golly.

On the minus side. Well, Covid of course. And there would be the small matter of persistent and now finally raging tooth ache. A five month adventure in stoicism and dentist hunting. In two countries.

I have consulted two, telephoned seven, and at the said Facebook group of local recommendations, finally found the eighth and the FINAL one who will do the deed of root canal and a crown.

Two days before Christmas. Three more weeks to go. But hey, I’ve waited since July in varying degrees of discomfort and agony, I’ll see it through.

So even though evenings have been more in the vein of waiting until I can take painkillers and go to bed early, it’s time for a bit of a garden story.

The six wonderful raised beds have almost done their full year of life as permaculture beds.

And the successes are many and various. So this is the brief end of year report.

I won’t be sinking the dahlias in buckets down the middle next year. They were fun, but actually needed more watering than the ones on the drip feed system in the top beds.

So I levered them out. And doing a bit of a clear up when the tomatoes finally carked it, and the basil became a skeleton of sticks, I could see the levels had settled.

Entirely expected.

But I had to do the top up. These raised beds are huge. I can’t remember how long. Three metres by one metre 40? I’d have to do some homework to get the figures. But my, it’s a lot of topping up.

Luckily I have one enormous and rather inaccessible compost bed behind the potting shed at the far end of the farm. One of those ‘cold heaps’ which is just a fancy way of saying you chuck your weedings and mess down the hill and forget about it for over a year.

At the bottom was gold. Good rich compost. So it was a digging job and a bucket job of rather tedious proportions. Forty buckets? Marvellous exercise.

And after a week of good toil, I filled the beds.

And then added the chipped bits from the last visit from Nicolas’ chipper.

The tricky bit is there are still permanent crops still going. I’m hoping this topping up will not be needed each year (I don’t have a spare tonne of compost and soil to donate). Because I can’t work out how to keep the parsnips from being utterly submerged, the peppers from being swamped, and the Japanese bunching onions from going under.

The kale bed had a top up of just leaves from the mulberry in the courtyard. And I’ll mulch thickly in a month’s time.

And I still have the end bed with the leeks, peppers, parsnips and parsley. I could leave it I guess. But it looks a bit saggy.

I had a bit of help when I was removing the spent tomato plants (I just left the rotting and underripe tomatoes underneath the new compost. They can self seed and do the work of sowing, pricking out and potting on. Self seeded tomatoes are always way ahead for me in the growing season if I just let them emerge in the spring here.

The Creature is learning to meaow. Being a solitary wild animal she never had much call for it. But now that she is learning how to be a pet (work in progress) I thought I’d give you a quick slideshow of her demonstrating her new skills.

Bit to go there, I’d say. But full marks for effort. She does make me laugh.