Debby Lockey's Blog

A vegetable plot for lazy people

I am very lucky. I have an allotment about 10mins away from me, where I grow lots of fruit and vegetables.  However there are times when even a 10 minute journey seems too far to go for things like chives to sprinkle over potatoes, or a few french beans to add to a salad.  Also the daily, or twice daily trek over to water those thirsty plants such as beans and onions can some times seem like a chore. With this in mind, I have decided to create a small vegetable plot in my garden.


Straight away there is the problem of where to site it?  Although my garden is not small, it’s a typical Victorian / Edwardian long narrow garden, every area seems to be accounted for.  Ideally I want a site that gets a lot of light, so I don’t want anywhere overshadowed by trees, (they would also intercept the rain, which wouldn’t be good either). I’m not too worried about it being a suntrap, as I won’t be growing tender fruit trees such as peaches or apricots, and I can put tomatoes and peppers in pots, and then position them around the garden so they will receive lots of sun.   But I do want somewhere sheltered, so the crops won’t be subjected to cold northerly or easterly winds.  Naturally I would like nice deep fertile soil, rich in organic matter to feed the plants, with a pH of around 6.5 so the plants can readily take these nutrients up from the soil. Finally, my only other consideration is ease of access to water.  I don’t want to be trudging down the garden with watering cans should there be another hosepipe ban, (surely not this year after all the rain we have had?).


Looking around the garden to find such a suitable site, I have decided on an area close to the house, which will ensure the minimum amount of walking is involved.  We also have a water butt there, so watering will not be a problem.  It is west facing, and nicely sheltered with a fence, against which I could grow an espalier apple or pear tree.  Nearly perfect except that at the moment there is an old climbing jasmine and a viburnum that we inherited with the house.  They really add nothing to the garden. They are too big for the position, so they have to be regularly pruned, with the consequence that they don’t flower, or produce much scent. So this project is just the excuse I need to get them out. There is also a Red Robin (Photinia), which loves being pruned.  I’ll keep this as it will add some winter interest but I’ll remove the lower limbs, so it looks more like a small tree.  This will open up the area and make it more sunny and airy; conditions which will hopefully reduce mildew.


My other problem is the ‘soil’.  It is not great as it consists mainly of rubble and hardcore because, at one time, this area was a patio.  There is also a small soak away here, for the down pipe from the roof.  As most of the runoff is now being directed into the barrel this, hopefully, shouldn’t be too much of a problem. 


The first thing to do will be to remove most of the rubble, although I will keep some to help with drainage. The bed can then been raised using well-rotted household and garden compost, soil, and heat-treated manure.  Together this mixture should produce a nice nutrient-rich, friable soil.  This is important in a vegetable plot, as vegetables require more food than ornamental plants. Also, because this is a small plot I want to get the maximum yield I can, so I intend to plant the vegetables closer together than is usually recommended.  The soil therefore needs to be rich in nutrients to support all these hungry plants.


The bed is now complete, and as a final touch I have put on some cloches.  They will help the soil dry out and heat up more quickly, so I can start sowing my first seeds that little bit earlier.  Alternatively I could have made a hot bed to speed things up even more.  This is not difficult to make and it is one of the few times when fresh manure is recommended in gardening.  Since I live in the New Forest, surrounded by ponies and cattle, supply of this is not a problem.  But they are best done with cold frames, which I don’t have.   Maybe next year…



Posted 9:27, Wednesday 2nd March

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About Debby's blog

Every month I will give you some tips on what to do in your garden and allotment for that time of the year.  Because I am a designer there will be elements of design thrown in along with gardening advice.

I’ll also let you know about any projects I am working on;  the ideas behind the design, how we will implement it and what the outcome was like. 

If any one would like to contribute I would be pleased to hear from you.  I am always pleased to hear other people’s experiences especially since I have found that the more I learn about gardening the less I seem to know.

Recent posts

Growing sweet peas, Lathyrus odoratus, for summer fragrance

How to create a lovely spring planting combination using the colour yellow.

Posters to help you make your street hedgehog friendly

Winter plants for winter insects.

The spring garden

A vegetable plot for lazy people

Some design thoughts

Achieving balance in the garden

Sculptures in the garden

Small is definitely beautiful