On Saturday I built the remaining 6 wood sections for my Minibed garden. The weather improved throughout the week, and by Saturday afternoon I decided it was dry enough to set up the Minibeds. Here is a set of pictures the (hopefully) illustrate the process.
I first raked out the beds, breaking up any large clumps, and removing any stones that I found. I then rolled out the 5-mil plastic.
Using a string to try to keep the rows halfways straight, I began setting up the wood sections. I decided to use a spacing of 40 cm between each box.
Mr. Kimball used steel rebar in three of the corners to secure the wood sections. Rebar is expensive, and I had a large number of approximately 50 cm long wooden pieces left over from another project, so decided to use these. After adding the wood sections, I used a long board and a hammer to dry to level them out best I could. I then used a hammer to drive the wooden stakes in three corners into the ground. This proved to be more difficult then I imagined, I kept hitting stones and other objects, which ended up moving the wood sections around a bit. My neighbor mentioned to me once that after the war(s) people used to bury the debris in their gardens to get it out of way, a fact that I confirmed when I tried to double-dig this garden last year. The rows ended up being not quite as straight as when I began, but close enough for me. As a last step I place a piece of wood along each side of the inside of the wood sections as a straight edge and cut away the plastic.
I added a little compost to each bed, they are now ready for planting.
On Saturday I started working on my Minibed garden. Mr. Kimball’s plan used 2×4 wood for the 30×30” sections. As they don’t sell this lumber size in Germany, I settled on 20 cm high and 18 mm thick lumber, which comes in a 3 meter length.
As I mentioned in a previous entry I decided to go with 80 x 80 cm sections, slightly larger than Mr. Kimball’s. For me it is not important to have perfectly square sections, so to save money I purchased warped and twisted wood. By cutting 2 lengths of 80 cm and 2 lengths of approximately 75 cm, I ended up with roughly an 80 cm square section. The phrase “close enough for government work” comes to mind as I write.
To support the wood section I used 6×8 cm wood pieces. I predrilled holes in my lumber, then screwed the lumber to these pieces. The result is a very study frame that should withstand any wear and tear in the garden.
I ended up completing 6 of the planned 12 sections, the rest I can build next weekend.
I also purchased the 5-mil plastic for the beds, and had planned on spreading this out Saturday afternoon, but weather reports convinced me to wait. On Sunday we woke up to about 3 inches of fresh snow. Notice the budding trees in the picture below.
Here is a short update of my seed starting experiment in toilet paper rolls. I 6 rolls with peas and 6 rolls with kohlrabi. I also planted 3 of each in some biodegradable pots that I found at our garden center.
The results after approximately 3 weeks:
6 out of 6 kohlrabi seeds have sprouted in the rolls.
3 out of 3 kohlrabi seeds have sprouted in the pots.
4 out of 6 pea seeds have sprouted in the rolls.
2 out of 3 pea seeds have sprouted in the pots.
The toilet paper rolls have survived multiple watering, I am overall satisfied with the results.
Garden planning was place on hold the past couple weeks as my wife and I have battled the flu. With Spring in sight Winter is not giving up easily, we had a week with the coldest temperatures of the year, at night dropping to -12 °C. Not cold at all for many parts of the world, but for us cold enough.
The cold hit whatever was left in the garden pretty hard, the kale, Pak Choi and leeks were looking pretty sad on Sunday afternoon. My lettuce and swiss chard that I had under plastic in my raised beds survived well, but I think it may be time to pull the rest. But this isn’t bad, in a few weeks I can set out my kohlrabi and pea plants, and some early lettuce.
I have been working on a plan for a Minibed Gardening bed in our E-Garden. In a nutshell, this involves laying a layer of 6-mil plastic on the beds, framing 30“x 30” sections with a wood frame, and cutting out the plastic within these frames for growing beds. According to the author of this method, Herrick Kimball, this method has its advantages, including low maintenance and high moisture retention. Refer to the author’s web site for more information http://minibedsonplastic.blogspot.de/
Like any “garden method”, it has to be adapted to your local area. Mr. Kimball lives in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York, probably zone 4-5. I live in zone 7b, so may have to adapt a bit. I also need to adjust the building materials, wood sizes and dimensions are a bit different in Germany, but this is not a problem.
Yesterday (Saturday) I picked up the plastic for the Minibed garden. After researching what is available in our area, I settled on 5-mil plastic which is sold as the basis for garden ponds. This UV-resistant plastic is not cheap, but fairly robust. The standard width at our local building supply store is 4 meters wide, which will cover approximately 3 beds in the garden. A 30″x30″ section is approximately 76×76 cm (we are metric in Germany), so I decided to round it off to 80×80 cm. My current beds are approximately 90 cm wide, so this should fit well.