I moved in to my new office (or should is say “workspace”) that came with about 100 m2 of land last week. The soil was sandy; I understand that many years ago this space was occupied by a river.
This is what it looked like when I just moved in:
Persimmon trees surround the space where I intend planting my vegetables. However, there’s plenty of sunlight even in winter (at least 6 hours) and the space seems ideal to grow lots of vegetables (space is pretty hard to come by in Japan!).
Four beds dug up to a foot
I marked out four beds each 2.4 m x 1.2 m (to accommodate 8 x 4 squares) with adequate space to walk around between the beds and dug up the soil to about 1 foot. Removed weeds and stones, and generally got clean, workable soil. I also added about 25 liters of compost and mixed it thoroughly, and some magnesium lime to make it alkaline.
Next, I ordered for timber from the local forestry association; the official was most cooperative and cut the lumber according to my specs. Here is the photo showing one assembled frame and other frames in place, surrounding the soil that I had dug up and prepared.
Frames in place – one assembled and others in the process of being assembled
I collected a bag of dried leaves and dumped it into one of the beds as the lowermost layer. I also collected some ash and spread it all over the surface. Ash restricts rotting of the leaves, and I figured it would help. I then dug up the soil around the frame and filled it in the frame to build up the depth to about 200 mm (8 inches approx.) That would give the roots a clear space of 200 mm + 300 mm = 500 mm to spread.
Here’s one of the finished beds with fertilizer (white granules):
Bed ready for planting
My experience with square foot beds in the last two years showed that the grid that gives the squares is useful only when planting seeds of saplings. So I prefer to mark out the squares on the surface before sowing seeds rather than install grids. I prefer this method for the ease of maintenance. Here is the bed with the squares marked on it:
Squares drawn on the surface
I checked the pH value of the soil at about four locations and it consistently gave a reading of about 6.5. This is just about right, and I decided that no more soil adjustments are needed.
I plan to have flowers at the four corners (squares). With this in mind, I marked out the four depressions in each square of the first longitudinal row of squares and sowed carrot seeds.
Depressions made using a circular piece of wood
In each depression, I sowed three seeds (carrots 65% success rate). Finally, I plant to have one plant per depression, which will make it four carrot plants per square.
Similarly, I planted spinach in another longitudinal row (of eight squares) . In the other two rows, I planted potatoes after cutting the potato seeds in half, drying them in the sun for few hours and for extra protection, applying ash on the exposed surface to prevent rotting. In the last row, I planted Chinese cabbage. So my first bed contains:
First long. row: Carrot Second long. row: Potato Third long. row: Spinach Fourth long. row: Chinese cabbage or “hakusai”
I will probably grow companion flowers at the four corners.
Until the next post, have a great day!