|French Intensive Bio-Dynamic Garden Bed - Organic Gardening for Self Sufficiency - William Dire Wolff|
The most efficient way to grow a wide variety of garden vegetables is a french intensive raised bed. Making raised beds requires materials and more initial digging, than more traditional use of row crops. Some plants like soy beans, corn, and pintos beans, lend themselves to being row crops, due to the larger quality of plants being grown. A combination of raised beds and a field of row crops allows the farm to take advantage of both approaches.
This is how I was taught to make a "French Intensive Bio-Dynamic Garden Bed".
The French Intensive Bio-Dynamic Garden Bed is a raised bed that is about 5 feet wide and 8 to 12 feet long. The width of the bed is more important, than the length. The bed should be narrow enough, to reach your hands to the center of the bed from either side, without stepping in or on the garden bed. Never step on the soil in the raised bed, after it is completed, as this causes unwanted soil compaction. The bed is higher than ground level and board or stone frames can be used to define the border. If a frame is not used, the soil is mounded with rounded edges. The bed is dug about two to three feet into the ground. Using a pick axe, the soil at the bottom of the hole is broken up for deeper drainage and root penetration. The excavated dirt is mixed with compost and the dirt clogs are broken up, and the soil is returned to the hole. Not only is compost added to the excavated soil, compost is added to the bottom of the hole, another layer is added half up the hole, and another layer of compost is added close to ground level. The three layers of compost are referred to as breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breaking up the soil and adding compost is why the bed becomes raised.
There is little maintenance needed, after the bed is completed. When the bed is not in use, add compost to the upper layers of soil. Fluff up the upper soil and new compost with a digging pitch fork. The initial work of building the bed pays for itself, in future years of use.
When planning the lay-out of the raised beds, you need walkways, access for wheel barrows, and plan on how to reach water hoses or irrigate the beds.
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