Gourmet gardener: September work for the garden
Tara Kate Linnane
September is a month usually filled with scorching sunsets, dreary evenings, and a fall feeling. I’ve always loved this time of year and some of the chores that come with it like hedging hedges for fresh blackberries and picking apples. This period also provides a great opportunity to look at jobs such as improving existing growing structures or expanding growing areas before going further into winter. If you’ve been stung by the edible garden bug, now is a good time to prepare your space for a full growing season next year.
Creation of raised beds
Raised vegetable beds can be built at any time of the year; however, the activity is suitable in the fall before the ground becomes too wet or waterlogged. Raised beds are a convenient way to grow an array of different plants and are especially well suited for growing fruits and vegetables.
When deciding on the position of the vegetable bed, make sure it is in a lightly sheltered spot with plenty of sunlight. The aisles between the beds should be wide enough to roll a wheelbarrow, about 50 cm.
The choice of material really depends on your budget and the tools available. Wood from the remaining pallets, for example, is inexpensive but won’t last as long as a masonry wall or treated sleepers. The longer you want the beds to last, the more expensive they become.
For construction, clear the site of existing vegetation and level as needed and mark the beds with stakes and string, and check the levels. For all walls except masonry, insert support stakes in the corners, then every 1.5 m, drive 30 to 45 cm into the ground to support the sides.
Secure the sides to the retaining stakes with nails or screws. If you are building masonry walls, concrete footings should be laid on a solid foundation.
The sleepers and logs can be laid directly on level, firm ground.
For a modern look and feel, corten steel planters can be purchased and used as raised beds.
To fill the beds, start with a layer of recycled cardboard to keep weeds from growing. It is also important to remember that if the beds are created on poorly drained soil, a layer of drainage material is necessary to avoid a soggy base for the plants.
When building raised beds on hard surfaces, ensure a depth of at least 45cm, but ideally 60cm, so that the plants can root deeply.
Hedges are teeming with interesting wild flavors, dotted with fall colors and a foraging treat, from fatty hips to intense berry. Taking inspiration from these fall hedges can help you design and incorporate edible elements into your garden in the form of boundaries.
A good edible hedge provides habitat for wildlife and can also offer seasonal flavors that you can’t buy in stores. In the medium hedge, you will usually find blackberries and rosehips informally intertwined with other deciduous shrubs such as blackthorn, all of which are edible.
If you have an exposed boundary in your garden that requires a windbreak to minimize wind or hide unsightly views, creating a hedge with edible species can be a great alternative option.
Suitable species include hazelnut, blackberry, slow blackberry, rosehip, wild plum, and elderberry.
When planting a hedge, you can usually plant a double row with five plants per meter.
Hazelnut is an inexpensive and efficient way to grow a hedge.
It grows extremely fast and also tolerates a wide range of soils and tolerates shade. Mulberry plants can be used as a single-species hedge or as a mixed hedge with, for example, blackthorn. The blackthorn or sloe berries of the prunus spinosa look like blueberries. But unlike blueberries, they have a tangy flavor and are therefore best cooked before eating them. They are often used to make fall jam or sloe gin. Rosehips make a wonderful informal hedge, and the hips can be collected and used for syrups rich in vitamin C.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tara Kate Linnane is passionate about sustainability and growing everything edible. With her husband Barry, she embarked on a journey of designing edible spaces and starting others in their gardening adventures.
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