Our recycled mushroom boxes are 4ft x 4ft and ideally suited for use as raised beds. They are on legs approximately 1ft high so easily accessible to children and adults including those with physical disabilities.
The wooden boxes are recycled mushroom growing trays made from Portuguese Pine which has high resin content so the boxes will not rot. They can be sited on concrete and can be moved if necessary.
Square Foot gardening is a uniquely simplified method of gardening. Less weeding and digging with great results.
The ‘square foot’ idea was invented by an American, Mel Bartholomew. (We have asked to use his link!)
Getting children involved in growing -As featured on Radio Kent
Square foot gardening can enhance the school environment and encourage children to take an interest in growing things.
Many schools have adopted this method of dividing each 4ft box into 16 squares.
Each child can then be responsible for a ‘square foot’ plot and grow flowers, herbs or vegetables. The boxes could also form part of a design adopted by a class and then planted in that style .
There are endless learning opportunities and different applications for the miniature allotments.
Below Pippa Greenwood (gardeners question time and ex blue peter gardener) casts a critical eye on the square foot garden
So, What does it cost?
A 4ft x 4ft box on legs
Compost for box
Delivery (within Kent) and Siting
Then all you will need is seeds, plants a few tools and lots of enthusiasm!!
To see what else has been done and to find out more take a look at the following websites (these are not our websites, we do not endorse them or have any responsibility for them but we think they have some great ideas) –
If you would like anymore details please call Simon Grayson at Bilting Mushrooms 01233 812631
Our Raised Bed Gardening
We decided to start our own square foot garden encouraged by family’s desire to eat fresh organic produce. First thing to decide was where to put the garden! The plot is on a south facing slope so it made sense to put it on the end of the house. Plenty of sunshine and a wall to grow climbing plants up.
Unfortunately the first job is to clear the site and try and level it. Only way to do this is by hard work (and a tractor).
We tried to get rid of most of the weeds spurred on by the thought of endless supplies of fresh vegetables! This ground had not been worked for many years and as a consequence was particularly difficult to level.
The next stage was to plan where we would put the boxes. We felt it was important to leave a gap between the boxes which was wide enough to walk between ( and crouch between so we could weed the boxes)
At this stage all the family wanted to get involved if you look closely you will see Treacle the family cat giving the box her seal of approval. We used landscaping fabric under some of the boxes to help weed suppression. In the areas we identified for root crops we removed the bottoms of the boxes and dug the soil to a depth of two foot and incorporated mushroom compost and composted horse manure to improve the structure and nutrient levels of the soil.
The day we chose to lay the fabric down was particularly windy and we had to pin the landscape fabric down. we decided to use nine boxes for the garden. This decision was arrived through practicality as this was the available space in this plot. In his book Square Foot Gardening Mel Bartholemew suggests that an area the size of one of these boxes will sustain someone for most of the year. we have yet to test this premise!
Some of the boxes we took out the bottoms of the boxes, these are destined for root crop production. Others we left the bottoms in which we felt would aid weed suppression. The first box planted up was Runner beans and marigolds. we hoped that the marigolds would act as a draw to any unwanted “friends” The boxes were filled with soil harvested from the site combined with 50% mushroom compost and composted horse manure. The horse manure has been composted to 80 degrees centigrade to kill off any weed seeds. It is essential to use well composted manure or you will spend the whole season weeding your square foot gardens.
Over the summer Haywood Landscapes decided to take a stand at The Kent Show. The theme of their garden was sustainability and recycling in the garden. They used One of the mushroom boxes in their scheme. They were awarded a gold medal for the best show garden. I think their approach is a little more professional than ours.
This year we have been forced to fence round the gardens as we have lost a lot of plants to hungry rabbits. as you can see this is still not complete as there is no gate on the fence. Consequently we still have a number of well fed rabbits wandering about. We have used palisade fencing we think we will still have to put some mesh behind this as the rabbits are just squeezing through the gaps in the fence.
The gardens have got off to a good start this year we have planted potatoes onions and purple sprouting broccoli (this was left from last year) and we have already started eating this. The rhubarb seems to be growing a pace with the sticks already around 1 foot long. We have planted spring onions in the corners of the some of the boxes this is to try and discourage some of the pests which might venture onto the boxes.
The above image was taken in March. The one below has been taken at the beginning of June. The sweet peas are doing extremely well. we are having problems with the birds eating all the strawberries. We have had to develop a sophisticated bird scaring technique ! Nothing we seem to do deters them.
This is the early crop of potatoes lifted in May, think if we had left them in the ground we would have had a heavier harvest, however impatient helpers encouraged us to reap an early harvest.
We have had no slug problems this year thanks in part to the bark on the floor, the spikey bits in the bark seem to put the slugs off from crawling over the bark. Slugs seem to be a particular problem this year, a colleague recently found one in his kettle in his garden shed. He hoped he had found it before his last cup of tea the look on his face suggested otherwise!? The other problem we are suffering from this year is rabbits, the young rabbits love the fresh growth in the vegetable plots, will have to look at putting wire mesh round the palisade fencing, to try and discourage them. The children love to see the baby rabbits at this time of year as does Treacle the cat!
In May the boxes made the news for all the wrong reasons. Ten schools have now got their own square foot gardens, the children are learning to grow and then are learning to cook with the vegetables they have grown. This has been very successful with very positive feed back from the schools. One school however was not so lucky when they were targeted by vandals who were determined to ruin the hard work of the children.
The positive side to the story is that the local community rallied round and the school was inundated with gifts of plants and offers of help. The local prison service also sent plants from inmates who had read the story, the garden is now back on track. This also goes to show the sense of community that gardening creates.
The boxes on the farm are still looking great the winter flowering pansies and primulas are still going strong and are making quite a show.
These are the same winter pansies in early June, they are just starting to go off now but have been fantastic, the compost mix is obviously working wonders in these boxes.
If you would like to contribute any tips or advice on container growing please do so using our contacts page.