RT… One, Friday, 8.30pm

Kitty's Garden

Programme 1

First Impressions
Iím absolutely delighted with my humble plot within one of FOTAís grandiose south facing walled gardens. The dream spot for a veggie plot bar indications of rabbits lurking in the landscape! Thanks to Sean and his rabbit proof fence, those pesky bunnies should be under control. If only I had a Sean that could control our Irish weather!


Kittyís Ďraison de gardeningí!
Food glorious food! The Victorians were self sufficient so why canít we take it upon ourselves to try? Reducing food miles to food metres is pivotal to my reason for gardenening and of course the love of good clean fresh nutritious food. Our Victorian fore gardeners certainly would not have used non-selective weedkillers such as Round up to prepare their planting beds, so just as I look to them for crop inspiration, so too will I for garden management inspiration.

The easiest way from grass to planting without digging!
Looking at a blank canvas of grass and with Spring fast approaching I need a quick fix. Iíve decided to plonk raised beds over the grass and fill the beds up with manure and topsoil and thus cut out a need for back breaking digging. Raised beds allow soil to warm faster and create better drainage than most open soil gardens. A raised bed could simply be a mound of soil or soil enclosed in a wood/ stone/plastic/brick/slate frame. The height of a raised bed could range from 10cm to 60cm, the latter height been particularly kind to your back. You can even place raised beds on top of gravel or concrete and if doing this, ensure they are at least 50cm hight.

With my raised bed idea in mind and Sean looking after the DIY side (see Seanís blog), I go on the hunt for a few important raised bed ingredients: well rotted manure, cardboard & topsoil.

Mooching for Manure
Well rotted manure is like gold dust to any organic vegetable grower. Keeping things as local as possible is my philosophy and ironically Bison poo was the most local I could find. Thatís what happens when you grow vegetables beside a Wildlife Park and lucky me has a mountain of well rotted exotic poo at my disposal. Whatís so good about dung? It not only adds loads of lovely rich bulky matter to your soil but as it decomposes in the bed, it feeds the soil, the plants and our valuable garden friends, the earthworms. And oh yes, itís free!

Steps in filling the raised bed

  • Mark out the area where you intend to lay your raised bed. Strim grass/lawn before placing bed. Itís best not to build beds wider than 1.3m as you need to be able to reach the middle of the bed without standing on it.
  • Place your bed on the strimmed area, ensuring it is as level as possible.
  • Lay out thick cardboard or layers of newspaper (at least 6/7 sheets) inside the bed, making sure all the grass is covered. Avoid using cardboards and papers that are coloured with high glossy inks.
  • Place a good bottom layer of well rotted manure on top of the cardboard.
  • Fill your raised bed to the top with good topsoil. This I bought in from a local supplier. Iím a little bit dubious about buying in other peopleís top soil and do encourage you to use your own by digging over your plot or paths, time and muscle power permitting that is! Alas some people are left with back yards of rubble so importing top soil is your only option. So on the more positive side, buying in topsoil does offer a means of overcoming fundamental problems such as contaminated or very poor soil.
  • Itís best to wait at least a week for soil to settle before sowing or planting.

Note: When planning paths between your beds, ensure to leave enough room for manoeuvre, especially with a laden wheelbarrow. (2ft Ė 3ft being the norm).

Right my raised beds are in place, so Iím off to find myself some seed catalogues and get this garden up and growing.


The Gardeners