Garden Advice: Preparing for a fruit and vegetable patch

Simi, West London, is starting a new vegetable patch

"I'm fairly new to gardening and have decided to have my own vegetable patch as a raised 2 metres squared bed. At the moment there are quite a few strands of grass, a bit of weed and some shoots from the sycamore tree. I'm not sure whether its enough to just pull them out or should i use something stronger as i'm a little reluctant to use weed killer.

Also i wanted to know how do i prepare my soil ready for planting veg/fruit and when would be the earliest i can plant, i would really like to be able to plant something this year so i can start seeing something grow.

I hope you can help."

Bide-A-Wee response (by Mark Robson)

Weed control and soil preparation are key to the long term success of your garden. First of all you need to make sure the weeds are removed. The least harmful chemical method is to spray with Roundup (glyphostate) it is animal friendly and biodegrades in the soil. However if you want to be completely organic I suggest you spread an old carpet over the area and leave for at least a couple of months as this kills the weeds by starving them of light.

Once you have built your raised bed, I assume it will be around 200mm deep, incorporate as much organic material within the existing soil as you possibly can. This could be garden compost, compost from the garden centre or well rotted manure. Thoroughly mixing the existing soil and compost, if your soil is very clayey add some coarse grit to open the texture of the soil. 

Now is a very good time to think about planting fruit bushes such as blackcurrants, or Gooseberies whilst the soil is still warm so they can get their roots established for next year. So time is of the essence before the cold weather comes.

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