Growing Vegetables in raised beds
– zur deutschen Version – At long last the temperatures are improving, The cold nights these past few weeks have caused plant growth to come to a standstill. Plants ventured so far, and then stopped. Now that the night temperatures are increasing, the garden will explode at a phenomenal pace.
The keen gardeners among you have long discovered the therapeutic value of gardening – both mental and physical. There are also many who are just realizing how nice it is to have a garden and being able to garden in it. Many of you also seem to be discovering the value of using the space as somewhere to grow edible plants. After all, the less we need to go out to shop right now, the better. We have noticed this definite trend at the Garden Academy these past weeks, where the sales of herbs, vegetables and fruit have soared.
Vegetable beds need a sunny position
We have so often discussed the possibilities of creating a permanent vegetable garden somewhere (our cooks dream of having somewhere to harvest fresh herbs and edible flowers!) . Unfortunately, space is at a premium. The areas we have where we could plant vegetables are unsuited as they are too shady. Rule no 1 of vegetable gardening: vegetables need sunlight. Leaf crops like salads and spinach may cope with slight shade, but all the crops that produce fruits ( such as peas, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and aubergines) or roots (beetroot, carrots, kohlrabi and celeriac) need the energy from the sunlight to produce strong roots and fruits.
We have overcome the problem by standing wooden raised beds on the terrace in front of the little brick office building, the former root observation house. At the bottom we put fresh partly twiggy compost material, finished off with freshly sieved compost. Into this small seedling plants were planted and the first seeds were sown. Alternatively, it is also possible to use larger pots, deep window boxes or even using a sack to grow potatoes. (Watch James der Gärtner planting potatoes in a sack on his YouTube channel from April, 19th on – or watch other interesting videos about gardening on his Youtube Channel:
Plants versus seeds
Many vegetable growers are unsure whether it is better to buy a packet of seeds or to acquire small plants.
- for the impatient gardener, there is the instant effect;
- you will be able to harvest one or two weeks earlier;
- if you only need a few plants, or prefer a larger variety (tomatoes, peppers and squashes) ;
- several vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, cucumbers and squashes are grafted onto stronger rootstocks, resistant to numerous diseases and ensure strong, vigorous growth and larger harvests.
Growing from seed:
- The satisfaction of growing plants from seed is unsurpassable;
- It is the cheapest way of producing larger quantities of plants;
- You can do successive seedings, every 3 -4 weeks sowing small quantities to ensure continued cropping;
- You can buy unusual vegetable varieties.
It is possible to sow plants such as tomatoes, zucchinis and beans indoors on a light windowsill, before planting them out after the last frosts are over (middle of Mai). Hardy vegetables like salads, spinach, chard, peas, radishes and other root crops can be sown outdoors now. Seed packets will provide the necessary sowing instructions regarding when and how to sow. Remember: watching seeds germinate, and develop into mature plants is not only one of the most satisfying things in life, they will also be the most delicious thing you have ever eaten.
The very popular twice-yearly plant fairs in the Botanic Garden in Berlin have been cancelled, leaving many growers with a huge problem: what to do with all the plants they had specially produced for sale at this, and other shows. Gärtnerhof, the organisers of the Staudenmarkt are setting up a special website listing all those companies that would have been there and who do sell their goods via mail order. (https://berliner-staudenmarkt.de/english/) I will give you the website link as soon as it is ready. Some smaller suppliers, such as Mrs Busse who always sells wonderful tomato and vegetable young-plants, have supplied more of their plants to us than normal so that their customers can find them in our herb- and vegetable house.
Don’t forget to check if there is sufficient moisture in the soil – if not, do water and be careful in the woods: the authorities are warning for the danger of potential forest fires around Berlin & Brandenburg!