New permanent beds this winter

We have planted several new permanent beds this winter mostly by students and volunteers participating in this year’s food forest course. A permanent bed is one that requires a lot of extra work up frot, up but shouldn’t need to be tilled, dug or have as much work in the future. It also usually consists on perennial edible plants. There are many techniques which we experiment with including sunken beds, raised beds, woodchip beds and polycultures.

These are my principles to set up a permanent no dig bed:

  • Remove the weeds by either sheet mulching for a year or cutting them back, then digging them in with compost and biochar and then sheet mulching before planting.
  • Plant perennial vegetables or trees in the beds
  • Plant smaller perennials between them
  • Include supporting plants such as nitrogen fixers, mineral accumulators, pest repellers and beneficial insect attractors
  • Plant annuals in the spaces to get an extra crop in the first year out of the spaces until the perennials grow to size
  • Mulch with lots of compost
  • Further Mulch with cardboard and hay or wood chips to suppress weeds

This is still a new project, we took over the land two years ago and it was left abandoned, we have grown annual vegetables until last year where we started to prepare soil and install permanent beds. Once all our beds our complete I plan to mulch all the paths with cardboard and then pine bark, however until then i am sowing cover crops and wild flowers in the paths which i chop and drop with a strimmer to further build soil.

These are our new permanent beds planted in 2019. A big thank you to everyone who has helped prepare compost, woodchips and the beds.

woodchip bed
We have an ever growing back to eden wood chip bed which is on flat ground. We moved a chicken tractor over this area many times, flipped compost piles over it, grew cover crops and the mulched with compost, cardboard then woodchips. we only dug in the area to get out some ferns (unfortunatly we missed some which are growing through it), Situated in our Perennial vegetable and winter vegtable food forest
another asparagus and strawberry bed, this one planted on the flat, mulched with compost and hay. We grew all the 70 asparagus plants on the farm from seed. Situated in our Perennial vegetable and winter vegtable food forest.
This blueberry bed has two types of blueberries with large spacing, a physalis on the side and another type of self supporting raspberry in the middle. They have been interpolated with strawberries, flowers and herbs. We are no ensuring that all beds that back onto a path have browsable berries or fruits, so hopefully whenever you walk around the farm in the future you can eat something as you walk. Planted by Joston, Situated in our Perennial vegetable and winter vegtable food forest.
Asparagus bed and rasbperry bed
Left: Autumn bearing raspberries with a clumping strawberry row to stop the weeds growing into the bed. We plan to kill of the brambles along the back wall and propagate these raspberries up against the back wall. To the right a second asparagus bed interplanted with strawberries. In total we now have 6 varieties of strawberries. this asparagus was planted into mounds. Planted by Manu, Situated in our Perennial vegetable and winter vegtable food forest
Raspberry bed
New 11 meter long raspberry bed, 1/2 a cubic meter of compost with bio char tilled in (the compost ples were flipped along the bed for the past month), then mulched with aged manure. It includes a trellis made from chestnut and 4 wires. 6 varieties of raspberries planted. We have put strawberries at the back to cover the path to stop weeds. We have put a lie of all the perennial herbs and flowers at the front to stop weeds coming in from the path on the other side. Situated at the community straw bale house
This swale at the highest point of the chicken food forest catches water and sinks it into the ground. It has a Chilean and pineapple guava, myrtle and flowers planted in the swale, sage, goji berry and cover crops on the mound and a tilia and rosemary on the low point. Situated in the Chicken food forest
A new herb garden next to the new kitchen for our new community house. This has been filled with herbs that have been propagated from around our food forest. Herbs in one place by the kitchen make it easier for the cooks. This has been mulched with compost and will mulch with wood chips after a week or so to let the perennial herbs strengthen and the annuals germinate. Situated at the community house
Rhubarb and current bed
This bed along the wall has been planted with rhubarb and currents. It also has various herbs such as thyme, orgearno, fennel, calendula and nasturtium to support. Red cabbages have been planted to fill the spaces until the rhubarb established. This bed was sheet mulched on one side with plastic for 6 months to kill off the brambles, the plastic has been left on the wall to kill of the ones we can not dig out as they grow out of the wall. Situated in our Perennial vegetable and winter vegtable food forest
Annual garden barrier
This bed is a long thin bed acting as a barrier and support system for annual vegetables, It was sheet mulched with compost, hay and wood chips for several months. Then it is planted with nitrogen fixing shrubs, siberian pea shrub and myrtle. In the future these will feed the wood chips beds that will surround it with leaf mulch. In Between these shrubs are smaller herb shrubs that will help repel pests and bring in beneficial insects such as hyssop, anise hyssop, fennel, lavender, oregano and rosemary. In Between these are flowers such as valerian, pansy, calendula, mexican marigold and elephant garlic to further help the system. As most planted were small, i planted 50 onions in this bed to fill the spaces. I hope this bed will help stop the spread of pests and diseases and support the annual beds beside it. I will plant another one of these and use these to mark out my crop rotations,. (see chicken  tractor to the right). Situated in our Perennial vegetable and winter vegtable food forest
This is one of 5 asparagus beds, each one prepared differently. This one has 30 asparagus planted in mounds within ditches with compost under. They were mulched with compost and woodchips. the paths mulched with cardboard and hay. The asparagus have been interplanted with strawberries. Planted by Andrew, Situated in our Perennial vegetable and winter vegtable food forest
Triangular Sunken Bed
This triangular sunken bed was duig down 2 feet with the clay used to make the edges higher, it was then filled with compost and mulched with green manures and woodchips. We have planted some herbs around the side, a cherry tree in the middle, two types of nitrogen fixing Sienna, chaste tree (this gives a black pepper substitute) watermelons have been planted on the mounds to grow its roots into the compost and mulch the bed. This polyculture will be completed next spring once the bed has a chance to settle. Dug by Lawrence and Will, Situated in our food forest for chickens
New polyculture, this bed had 1 cubic meter of compost with biochar tilled into the ground as the soil was hard and poor. It was then mulched with another cubic meter of compost and then a thick helping of wood chips. It has a large Nitrogen fixing neem tree on one side and a persimmon on the other, it has a cherry and peach in the middle with an understory of siberian pea shrub and black lace elderberry. Between these is has Fuchsia, currents, Barberries, 2 types of sages, a line of asparagus at the back, stevia. Between all of these it has Anise hyssop, mock strawberries, oregano, yarrow, thyme, lemon balm, hollyhock, lemon grass, marjoram, calendula, hyssop, Fennel, Nasturngus, sunflower, borage, various bulbs. Designed and planted by students on 2019’s food forest course. Situated in our food forest for chickens


wood chip bed
Newest woodchip bed. Here we have experimented with an underground pipe to water in the summer. Situated in our Perennial vegetable and winter vegtable food forest

Some of our existing beds include many polycultures in our food forests and and sunken beds

To join one of our food forest courses please click here

Other posts about our food forests:

Planting Cover crops in the vegtable garden

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