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

Starting Seeds in Toilet Paper Rolls

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

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

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.

The first seeds of 2018

We live in zone 7b, it is a bit too early to plant anything outside, but usually around the end of March I can plant kohlrabi, peas, onions and some salad varieties outside.

I usually purchase kohlrabi plants from our local garden store, but this year I decided to try starting kohlrabi from seeds. A couple months ago someone mentioned on a Youtube channel that I watch that you can use empty toilet paper rolls to start seeds. The advantage of this method is that when it is time to plant you can plant the whole roll, the plants will continue to grow, and the cardboard will eventually become worm food.

In any case it sounded like a good way to repurpose the rolls, so why not.

Seed starting in toilet paper rolls

While I was at it I decided to try peas as well, so I planted 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 E-Garden 2017

Here are a few pictures of our larger garden, which we share with two other neighbors. “E” who owns the land, isn’t into gardening, so is happy when we take care of it.

The E-Garden June 2017
The E-Garden July 2017
The E-Garden September 2017

The L-Garden in 2017

Here are a few pictures of the smaller L-Garden from June and July of 2017.

Green beans and zucchini
The end of July

Welcome to My Garden

Welcome, my name is Stanley Jack Niles and I have developed this site to document my gardening journey in the land of the Huguenots.

My wife and I live in Friedrichstal Germany, one of five villages that make up the town of Stutensee. Friedrichstal was founded in 1699, by Huguenots fleeing religious persecution from the north of France, and also by way of Belgium and Switzerland.

The house that I live in is an orginal Huguenot house, but sometime between 1700-1710. Our house only has a very small yard on one side, so our gardening is very limited on our own land.

Our Yard Garden

But I have been “borrowing” garden space from two of my neighbors. One garden, I will call it our L-Garden,  is approximately 20 square meters:

Our L-Garden

The other garden is approximately 160 square meters, and is part of a 500 square meter space that I share with two other families. The owner of this  land inhereited the house from his mother and has no desire to garden, he is happy when we take care of it for him. I will call this garden the E-Garden.

The E-Garden