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Visit our stand at the Edible Garden Show to see a demonstration of "Open Book" planting bed dividers and other 'recycled materials' solutions that make structuring your allotment more straight forward and easier to maintain.

The show is at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire on the 11/12/13th March. Were on stand 554 in Hall 2.

We have also launched a new website in time for the show that will in time supersede this website.

Welcome to

Purpose of this website is to promote a new method of structuring planting beds for growing vegetables that reduces watering and increases success rates whilst making plots easier to maintain. It combines all the best elements from the established methods. The easy access of the traditional 'open soil' vegetable plot, the scalability of the 'boxed raised beds' and the science behind 'wicking beds'. All into a single, easily and cheaply constructed solution. I call them, "Open book planting beds"

Growing vegetables on an allotment or in a small patch in your garden is not only rewarding and theraputic but has multiple health benefits such as exercise and vitamin D from being out in the sunshine. Which is known to help if you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

So whats this new planting bed method all about then ?

In a nutshell it is a borderless, slightly raised soil bed, stacked against a cut in half, modified and vertically sunk pallet. The pallet is positioned centrally between two opposing banks of soil. A recycled plastic plank is loosely fixed to the bottom of the pallet stack with cable ties to complete the box structure. Which is then filled with stones collected from riddling your soil. The plastic bottom to the box retains the stones as well as acting as a deflector to direct the water from your weekly watering, into the centre of each bed, see diagram below.

What is this new 'plant bedding system' called ?

Its such a new idea that it doesn't have a definitive name as yet... some naming ideas
Open book planting beds | Vented stack soil beds | back-to-back, 'moisture stack' beds | Pallet partition planting
(If anybody has got a more catchy name please contact this website.)
Have noticed a lot of hits from France who are great allotmenteers so for their benefit...
Ouvrez le livre des lits de plantation

What are the advantages of this new bedding system ?

#1 this method is 'scalable'. You only open-up as much soil as your actually going to plant out. Especially on those 'harder-to-dig-over' virgin allotments. As you create each paired bed you are opening up a 3-4 square metre growing area of your allotment / plot.

A raised soil profile, banked soil, seems to suffer less from water logging / soil compaction. Also the soil properties of each each half of the bed can be easily adjusted to suit the current crop being grown

The 'scoop & heap' soil profile makes more efficient use of the top 4 inches of soil which contains the richest soil. No need to fill your bed with extra soil either bought or borrowed from other areas in your garden / plot.

More efficient use of water. The stone filled void of the pallet allows water to quickly filter down directly beneath the roots of your plants. Not just watering the top couple of inches of your soil.

Watering indirectly through the pallet may also limit the spread of fungal diseases such as root rot. Allowing the use of rain collected non-mains water.

Dressing (adding manure) and digging over the bed or weeding the crops is easier as you have access on 3 sides of your banked soil. No more banging your shins on the sides of the raised bed.

It is easier (quicker) and cheaper to construct than a raised bed, see Building the stack. Also it recycles pallets that would have ended up in landfill.

The sunken pallets also create an additional physical barrier against snails & slugs. I have noticed that the inner beds suffer very little slimy critter damage compared to the outer beds.

You can walk along or lean on the buried pallet spine to reach plants, avoiding soil compaction when watering or picking vegetables. Also the design requirement to fill the pallet void with stones provides a reason to collect stones as you dig / riddle your plot.

A uniform bed size, 28" x 94" (inches) or 70cm x 240cm, makes it easier to quickly divide up your plot when at the planning stage when you first start. The width of these bed at 2.40m is because of the width of these type of pallets (1.2m x 2). This is also the width of the "Gardman stakes" (20mm x 2.4m) that I # use extensively across my plot to build structures.

"Allotment Guardianship". Basically if you give up the allotment you have left it in a better state (not worse) than when you took the allotment on. Its means the next person to take on your allotment finds well defined growing beds with soil that is easy to turn over.

The clever bit (science part), its going to need a diagram...

The core of the paired soil banks acts like a sponge, sucking up the water that is poured through the stones. As your plants grow their root systems will naturally grow towards this central zone of greater moisture.
The sucking up of the water by the plant roots as well as the thinner banked soil will tend to be warmed easier and the area of greater evaporation. This movement of water from pallet spine across the profile of the soil banks is the positive moisture gradient across the roots. It pulls water across the roots of your plants seemingly speeding up nutrient uptake.


Since stumbling across this new way of structuring growing beds this spring (2015). I have completely converted my little half allotment and have never experienced such dramatic growth and high yields.

Positive growth, taken mid July. The plants seem to like these beds.. can you spot the marrow ?

The future (2016 season)...

I will continue to experiment with this bedding structuring method in the coming season (2016). Adjusting the design of the central buried pallet. Making it easier to remove them at the end of the growing season to be stacked somewhere relatively dry on your allotment.
I also plan to experiment with adding elements of the Hugelkulture technique (buried rotten thick branches) a specific points in the bed to aid water flow, reduce drying out. And the recent research into the symbiotic relationship between plants and Mycorrhizae Funghi.
As well as continuing to use the Native American indians "Three Sisters" planting techniques where possible. Also some ideas for a new self-watering stacked polytunnel design.

Watch this space ! Bookmark for 2016...

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10 Essential tips, "Golden Rules" for Growing Vegetables...

+ Plants require water to grow, the more you water the more they grow.

+ Always 'indirect watering' into a small finger trenches either side of the plant, this encourages root development.

+ A covering (mulch) of straw or barrier fabric around your plants will retain moisture.

+ The more you pick the vegetables the more they produce, eg Courgettes

+ A loose well dug soil is crucial, use a riddle on the top couple of inches.

+ You can 'Sow Direct' a lot of vegetables, after the last of the frost, end of April

+ Potatoes and Onion sets are the first to be planted, around easter.

+ Some plants are easier to buy as seedlings, eg. Tomatoes and Strawberries.

+ Rule of three when planting, position plants in triangles, watering the centre of the triangle gets all 3 plants in one hit.

+ Some plants you will need to start off indoors (Feb / Mar) before planting out, bigger plants can handle slug & snail damage better.

+ Every year you will make the same mistake of planting seeds too close together...

Useful Links...

Filcris Recycled plastics
Filcris Recycled plastic
St Albans recycled wood yard
Royal Horticultural Plant advice
Great site with science lead examples
Comfrey Tea as plant feed