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In a bed system the cropping area is divided into semi-permanent or fixed beds. The beds should be narrow enough to bring their central areas within arm’s reach so that all cultivation tasks can be done from the dividing pathways without stepping onto the bed soil. This has the advantage that avoids soil compaction and that harvesting and other tasks can be done soon after the rain without the risk of damaging the soil structure.

The bed system

There is also less need of digging the beds once they are established and fertile, and since the regular addition of organic manures is concentrated on a smaller area, is easier to build up high levels of fertility and to improve soil aeration and drainage, which in turn leads to stronger root growth.

The concentration of cropping areas into relatively confined spaces makes the bed system an ideal solution for worthwhile vegetables production in small gardens. The increase in soil fertility and lack of need for access along the crop rows allows plants to be grown at closer spacing than in a traditional vegetable patch. This way each plant gains the maximum root space in the smallest possible area making the best use of the soil available and increasing the total yield.

The close spacing of plants in this system has further indirect benefits. Irrigation using low-level distribution systems becomes more manageable and water can be used less wastefully using more conventional watering techniques. Close spacing also results in more effective smothering of annual weed growth, so weeding is also reduced in the bed system cultivation.

Using a bed system can make crop rotation much easier as each crop group can be allocated to a bed and moved on to a different bed the following year according to the rotation requirements. In one word, the bed system cultivation brings many advantages in your vegetable garden, eases your work and is suitable for small gardens.

There are different types of beds, they include: flat or semi-flat beds, deep beds and raised beds. A flat or semi-flat bed is simply marked out from the surrounding garden and cultivated, then, with repeated annual addition of organic matter soil depth is increased as the bed surface is gradually raised above path level. Deep beds are used by organic growers to minimize soil cultivation and preserve its natural structure and fertility by avoiding further digging after the soil double digging, and incorporating a large amount of organic matter. Raised beds are constructed by marking out beds and building the sides up to 30 cm high using timber, bricks or cement blocks.

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