Raising Our Game

Since we took on the plot a year ago, I’ve been wanting to get some raised beds installed. After a year, I’ve finally got started.

There are so many reasons for using raised beds:

  1. Our soil is heavy, and raised beds will improve the drainage.
  2. Our plot slopes, and with raised beds we’ll be able to terrace it, to some degree.
  3. We’re fighting to liberate our plot from weeds, and raised beds will make access to the beds for weeding easier.
  4. As well as making weeding the beds easier, installing raised beds will create good solid borders for paths covered with weed membrane and wood chippings, helping us to beat the weeds there too.
  5. Well maintained paths should be better barriers to slugs and snails migrating between beds than the bare earth we’ve had so far has been.
  6. When we get around to it, we’ll be able to attach to the edges of the beds sturdier supports for netting or plastic sheeting than those we’ve been sticking in the ground so far.
  7. We’ll be able to move the plastic sheeting from bed to bed as crops rotate around the beds, letting us grow crops like tomatoes under cover without problems related to the build-up of soil-borne diseases.

So why’s it taken so long? Well, the way I want to do it will take something like 175m of wood, which was never going to be cheap. Knowing how many people take on allotments and then give them up soon afterwards, before investing that much money (and time too, of course), it seemed sensible to be see how we got on as gardeners. After a year, I’m pretty convinced we’ll be sticking with it.

To get the wood, I emailed various local scaffolding companies, and found one that was offering used boards, including delivery, at a pretty good price. I was going to just order a few at first, to build a couple of beds and check that I was happy with them, but changed my mind at the last minute and ordered enough for ten 1m x 4m raised beds.

Having got the boards delivered to the plot, I roped my step-dad into helping measure them up, saw them to the right lengths, and screw them together. We got the measuring and sawing done, but a lot of the assembly has had to wait, as most of the places I want to put them have vegetables growing in them at the moment.

I have managed to get one set up already though, ready to be planted up with strawberry runners taken from this year’s plants. One down, nine to go…

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3 Responses to Raising Our Game

  1. Tim says:

    The boards I’ve bought for my raised beds came from ebay at pretty much double the price most scaffolding companies charge for 2nd hand ones (about £9) however they’re brand new and pressure treated/tanalised. They’re suitable for use in a marine environment and the company that supplies them doesn’t use arsenic (which imported boards which have skirted regulations can).
    They should last 10 years without further treatment though my previous raised beds which were using standard untreated unfinished softwood which I treated with Plant Safe treatment lasted just three.
    I found that however the fastenings died well before the boards rotted though. I started by using plain nails, these pulled out over time. I replaced with a type that have gripping parts on them, but this didn’t work either and finally resorted to screwing, but with a manual screwdriver down the plot, it didn’t work well.
    This time round I’m considering bolting the wood or using coach screws, but this may be overkill and currently works out at £90 just for bolts!

  2. Tim says:

    Expensive stuff, home-grown veg!

    Our boards were £4/each, and we’re using decking screws and a variety of cordless drills (which keep running out of power on us) to put them together. Will be interesting to see how long the beds last.

  3. karen says:

    it will all be worth it in the end – speculate to accumulate and all that!!!

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