15. Growing beds

Growing on permanent beds has many advantages that we cannot detail in these lines. At Bec Hellouin, market gardening is practiced on three types of bed:

o Rounded ridges, requiring little work once in place. They are generally mulched, so that composting in situ – provided that it is diversified and balanced – can provide enough fertilisation (fine-tuned to crop requirements). These raised ridges are most often used for transplanting seedlings started under cover.

o Flat beds, 80 cm wide, usually with little or no mulch, which are most often used for seedlings in situ, sown using a multi-row precision seeder (12 rows of small vegetables per bed, possibly 24 in the case of companion crops, carrots and radishes in particular). These beds require more cultivation: use of a broadfork or surface decompaction between each crop, and compost.

o Rounded ridges covered with woven cloth (made from oil, but whose use is justified by a long life, ten to twenty years). These beds require virtually no maintenance once in place and provide harvests while freeing up the market gardener’s time. They are well suited for growing large perennials such as rhubarb, artichoke and red fruits. At Bec Hellouin, these beds are placed between fruit trees.

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