Earlier in the year I got two raised bed containers for growing more plants outside. Edible plants are my preference for growing in these at the moment, so that is what I am trying.
Originally, I intended to raise plants in the greenhouse and plant them out into these containers once the weather improved. However, the frosts stretched well into May making even raising seeds in the greenhouse a bit risky at times, nevertheless committing anything tender to outside life! In the meantime, I have been raising a few dwarf French bean, tomato and cucumber plants, for example, among others in the greenhouse. This week, in particular, we have had some high temperatures and gorgeous sunshine, so I actually decided to plant seeds directly into the previously prepared contents of the raised bed containers.
Then came my next decision: Should I plant seeds into one and leave the other to be planted in a week or two, or should I plant seeds in parts of each while leaving areas free for future planting?
In the first year I was growing plants I was full of wonder when anything I planted grew. In the second year I was excited at the prospect of growing more of a variety of plants than the previous year and I was amazed when watermelons grew in my greenhouse! In the third and fourth years I still never lost my gratitude and sense of surprise every time a seed germinated, or a stem stretched sunshinewards with its increasing canopy of leaves, or the fruits of the plants’ labours appeared. This year I am just as enthusiastic, hopeful and thankful, but I am also trying to pull my feet to the ground and focus on trying to achieve some continuity in my planting. Consequently, I have opted for planting seeds in one of the raised bed containers and trying to wait at least a week or two before planting anything – whether seeds or plants – in the second one.
The way I see it is the only way I will know which way is the best approach to take will be if I try both options. And the easiest way to try both options is to leave one raised bed container temporarily empty before I start, in order to compare. So that is what I have done. Already I have been coming up with theories as to why this may not be the best method, but that’s the beauty of trying it out. We will see.
As you can see, I laid out some wool strands to give me a rough idea of the areas where I wanted to plant different types of seeds, according to how fast and big they tend to grow. I’ve since removed the wool but I have left the little windmill to try to deter birds from taking the seeds. 😉
I drew this little diagram so that I would have a quick means of reference regarding what I’ve planted. As you can see, I have planted rows of turnips, parsnips, radishes and beetroot along the sides. The turnips, if I remember rightly, are supposed to be a little kind of mini variety, but hopefully I will be able to tell you more about that in the future. The parsnips are like some I grew in a large flowerpot last year. They are intended, according to the seed packet, to be pulled when they are quite small because they are coreless, and at that stage they will be sweet. Those that I ate last year were very tasty, but they were crying out for more room to grow in. The beetroot are a variety which are supposed to be very pale, so I thought they would be worth an experiment. With all the seeds planted in rows I have staggered them, leaving large gaps between so that if they germinate sucessfully I can plant some more in between them to be coming along, but if they are not I will have room to play with for something else.
At one end I have planted some seeds from a mixed mild salad leaves packet, which will no doubt be a bit of a lucky dip, and who doesn’t like a lucky dip?! In the other end I have planted a few lettuce seeds of a cut-and-come-again variety. Some of the mixed salad leaves should be able to be harvested in that way, too, if they come to fruition.
Since I love dwarf French beans, and since they will be the largest of all the single plants in this raised bed container, if all goes well, I gave them centre stage. Between them I have planted some radish seeds because they grow faster and are smaller so should be able to be harvested quite quickly under the umbrella of bean leaves. There is also a row of radish seeds between where I have planted the dwarf French beans and a row of beetroot. Since rocket tends to grow quite fast and be prolific, I have planted some between the lettuce and a dwarf French bean, and between the mixed salad leaves seeds and the other dwarf French bean. As with the radishes I think the rocket will be alright coming along under the beans as they get taller.
Only time will tell whether my choices are sensible or not. But I’m aiming for trying to grow as much as I can comfortably and feasibly within this small space.