Our Deep Bed System


When we took on our allotment ten years ago, we had very little idea of how to tackle the 150 feet of weeds that we had taken on. We were fortunate to be the neighbours of a keen organic gardener, who seemed to be gardening in small beds with paths in between them – so we copied him!


We managed one small bed in the first year and in subsequent years moved down our plot in the same fashion. The turning point for us was when we had developed enough beds to realise that we needed to manage the whole garden in the limited time that we had available (both working with two small children) and that if we could cut down on the weed/grass growth on the paths that was invading the beds, then we could spend more time tending the crops and therefore improve our produce. It wasn’t a cheap option – the reclaimed timber, weed suppressant and pea shingle all added up, but slowly over a couple of years we boarded each bed and laid weed suppressant and pea shingle on the paths.

According to the text books the deep bed system of cultivation requires large amounts of organic matter being dug in initially, but then in subsequent years, if compaction of the soil is avoided (not easy with children and their wellies) then little further digging is necessary. Organic matter is then added as mulches and top dressing.


They suggest that the beds are no more than 1.5 metres (5 feet) wide to allow for easy access and also say that deep weed seeds are kept at bay and only wind blown surface weeds need be removed (not so sure about that). A natural soil structure should develop with all the organic material incorporated and a high worm population helps. (We definitely have plenty of worm ‘pets’).


So although we may not be ‘text book’ gardeners, the system has definitely worked for us and our tenth year has given us our best and most diverse harvest yet – mind you the sun has also played its part!


by Fiona Duck

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Allotment Handbook

We have recently revised our allotment handbook which you can see by clicking on the following link:
Sunnyside Allotments Handbook Revised May 2016

Ted Dyer

Click on the image above to read the many tributes to Ted.