Our ground was pretty poor in parts, a shallow covering of soil over heavy clay. Anything we planted would be fighting this so we decided on raised beds. They needed to be fairly large (they can scale to fit the space available) and I wanted them to last so it meant a trip to the local timber supplier. I found some treated 4.8m x 200mm x 45mm lengths which looked like they’d do the job. Using these 3 high, with beds 4.8m x 1.2m was the plan. I’d need some square posts for the corners and it became apparent I’d need some central support and bracing in the middle.
So each bed used:
- 7.5 x boards
- 4.8m of 75 x 75 posts (60cm lengths in each corner and in the centre and one 1.2 to brace between the centres)
- A lot of exterior screws
- Weedstop in the bottom
Once finished I needed to work out roughly how much compost / topsoil to put in each bed. I wasn’t going to fill them to the very top.
4.8m x 1.2m x 0.5m = 2.88 cubic metres.
Multiply this by 1000 gives 2880 litres of soil or compost per bed
Wow! We were going to have to buy that in bulk!
We built 3 in a polytunnel initially, then 2 smaller ones for herbs like sage and rosemary. Then came another 3… then came another 8… So most of our food is grown in these now. This year we’ve got:
- Broad Beans
- Jerusalem Artichoke (aka Sun Chokes)
- Summer & Winter Squash including pumpkin and patty pan
- Kohl Rabi
- Broccoli Raab
- French Beans
- Cucumbers and pickling cucumbers
On the one bit of good ground we’ve mainly laid that with legumes – peas, mangetout, runner and other climbing beans, sweetcorn and sunflowers. These can be grown in beds also.
Benefits of Raised Beds
- Higher Yield – plants can be grown closer together than in the open ground
- Minimises Weeds
- Companion Planting of crops and flowers to minimise pests
- Extended Growing Season – as soil temperature will be higher than open ground
- Scaleable & Easily Adapted to suit your needs