Update on Espalier Trees and Minibed

This weekend I finished cleaning up the area around the new Espalier fruit trees. This involved removing the top layer of grass (and weeds) and digging up a large pile of roots from the many bushes that were located here. The result was quite pleasing, and hopefully I got rid of most of the weeds. Afterwards I seeded it down with some buckwheat, I find this a good way of building up the soil after removing the sod.

A Clean Espalier Fruit Tree Area

I also replenished the bark mulch in the two beds next to this area. Wood chips are not available in my area of Germany, so I have been trying bark mulch, which is similar. These beds will be used for cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts and kale.

Replenishing the Bark Mulch

The garlic and red currents are looking very good. On the right under the fleece covering, is a row of peas, which are just starting to sprout.

Garlic and Red Currents

I also set out some plants in my Minibed test garden. From front to rear, cauliflower, pointed cabbage, green cabbage and celeriac (celery root).

Adding Plants to the Minibeds

After planing I added some schredded leaves as a mulch, and covered them with fleece to keep the birds from eating the young plants.

Setting up the Minibed Garden

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.

The garden beds before Minibed transformation

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.

Rolling out the Minibed 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.

Adding the Minibed wood sections

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.

The finished Minibed, ready for planting

I added a little compost to each bed, they are now ready for planting.

Starting the Minibed Garden Construction

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.

Minibed construction

I ended up completing 6 of the planned 12 sections, the rest I can build next weekend.

The first 6 Minibeds

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.

Springtime snow on March 18, 2018