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Pop-Up Beds

Pop-up beds occupy the space between raised beds and containers.

Like raised beds but easier and cheaper to set up, these temporary beds would be ideal if you are still in the process of designing your plot and want to try out bed locations, or if you only have one or two seasons on a plot before moving on.

Advantages

Cheap, quick and easy to set up.

Use waste materials with few other uses.

Built-in protection from wind if on an exposed site.

Disadvantages

You have to find the soil/compost to fill the pop-up to start with and find somewhere to put it at the end.

Tendency to dry out quickly if not watered regularly.

Can look untidy

Ideal for carrots and onions as the high sides protect them from flying insect pests. Good for most other vegetables.

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This year I've decided to grow potatoes

I don't  usually bother with potatoes as they take up lots of space and it's relatively easy and cheap to get organic ones at the supermarkets.

However, everyone who grows potatoes says there's nothing like your own, freshly harvested, potatoes for flavour so, rather than take up precious raised-bed space, I thought I'd make a pop-up bed.

Pop-up beds are prefect for potatoes as you can add compost and roll up the sides as they grow.

Tyres used to be the latest thing for growing potatoes but there is now considerable opinion that says all sorts of toxic chemicals, lead, benzine, microplastics etc, leach into the soil and can be taken up by the plants. This makes this idea unsafe for food crops.

As an experiment I'm starting off with some of Jodi's seed potatoes and two different types of supermarket potatoes that have sprouted in the vegetable rack.

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There are lots of things you can use for your pop-up beds

Sacks make great pop-up beds for all kinds of vegetables. Burlap or hession work well for a season and then rot away into the ground naturally. You can use old feed sacks but, as plastics break down in sunlight, don't use the same sacks next year.

I got this dumpy bag from Alison. It's about a metre square and can go up to a metre high when the sides are fully up but that will be alot of compost.

I'll be starting off using my rough compost pile. It's where we dump the woodier garden waste that takes ages to break down. This pile has been growing for about 8 years so it's about time to use it. You can see there is still lots of pretty solid stuff in there, brassica stalks and all sorts of woody material.

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Potatoes will grow in most soils but ideally they like a good, nitrogen rich, soil to put on plenty of leaf growth and, the more leaves there are, the more energy the plants will have to put into making the tubers so this pile of compost should be ideal.

A good 3" layer of compost in the bottom before spacing the seed potatoes out and covering with 2" more to start with.

At this stage I can still just about drag the bed to where I want it. Potatoes like full sunlight if possible but I've chosen a spot  by a wall that does get shaded in the afternoon. Fingers crossed!

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3 weeks or so later the potatoes are showing. Potatoes are not very hardy so if it's still going to be frosty you'll need to pull some earth up and cover the leaves to prevent frost damage

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A month later and I have already added another 3 - 4 inches of compost. Potatoes send out side runners from the stem which start to form tubers when they reach the ground so by raising the soil level up the stem you will maximise potato production from your plants.

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