Growing in Trenches
Last year, I tried growing veg on top of trenches. This involves removing a spade depth of soil and adding organic matter, covering back over with soil and leaving to rot down before planting seedlings on top in spring.
I tried this method when growing sweet peas for my wedding back in June, and also had a go at a row of dwarf runner beans rather than climbing wigwam types.
There are a number of advantages to growing this way, but the best part is that a trench offers plants the opportunity to get off to the best possible start. I dug my trenches in January, and began filling with anything that would normally go straight into my compost bin, such as leafy greens, old veg plants, tea bags and even paper. Well rotted manure is also a good choice.
If you haven’t got all this to hand straight away, leave the trench open for a few weeks and fill up when you can. Cover with soil, leave until Spring, and then plant your seedlings on top. If my runners are anything to go by, your plants will get off to a flyer.
This led me to wondering what other veg I could use a trench for this year. Hungry crops, such as squashes and courgette certainly fit the bill. In fact, a trench is almost be an extension from the method I use for these plants now, but would allow for even more good nutrients to be put into the soil.
Because a trench focuses the roots around the organic matter, I also wondered if other veg that I’ve always struggled to grow to any considerable size would benefit from this method. My caulis and sprouts have always been small, and a better concentration of goodness around their roots can’t fail to help them grow larger.
Although trenches should ideally be dug in the winter, I reckon there is still time to dig one if you’re going to fill it with well rotted manure. In fact I only dug one last weekend for my potatoes.
The beauty of this was that two trenches only took me about 20 minutes to dig, compared to the good hour or so it would take to dig the whole patch. Trenches are a lot more economical, and save a great deal of back ache.
I’m filling my potato trenches with grass clippings after a tip off from a very experienced plotholder nearby. I’m after big, baking potatoes this season, rather than the little ‘uns I normally get, and hopefully a trench will do the trick.