The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Growing => Vegetables => Topic started by: Cavendish on October 05, 2011, 03:55:50 pm

Title: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: Cavendish on October 05, 2011, 03:55:50 pm
Hi All, me and the Mrs have just bought and moved into our first home!.
I have grown in pots / grow bags for the last couple of years with fairly good results, but this year as I have new and bigger garden I want to put raised beds in, and up the scale of produce that I can get from next years crop.

I have never built raised beds before and have limited knowledge about what to fill them with for growing next year, can you please provide me with some advice?

the things I will be growing are: potatoes early and main crop, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, Peas and broad beans, salad stuff, courgettes, Chillies, Peppers, etc

I will also be putting in some fruit trees but these will go in the borders.

Thanks in advance.
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: lachlanandmarcus on October 05, 2011, 04:52:26 pm
Congrats on the new home!!! Raised beds sound like a good plan!

I was going to make ours this year but by the time I had paid for timber etc (we didnt have spare bits hanging around), I found it cheaper to buy the economy range ones! So bought them instead - a LOT easier and quicker as my woodwork skills are not good....
 Got them from here, the allotment range (lowest priced ones)
http://www.harrodhorticultural.com/HarrodSite/category/Raised_Bed_Gardening/ (http://www.harrodhorticultural.com/HarrodSite/category/Raised_Bed_Gardening/)

Worth considering, even if you just buy ones and then make the rest using the one you buy as the template.

Tatties would need a pretty deep raised bed and take up lots of space, the maincrops are better on the compost heap or odd bits of soil IMO. Cucumbers may grow outside but a lot better in a frame/polytunnel/greenhouse I think. All the rest sound good, and I would add Kai Lan, amazing thing I grew for the first time this year. A bit like sprouting broccoli but more subtle taste and is cut and come again. Also carrots and some brassicae like purple kale or cabbages, very beautiful and taste much better from the garden!

Ideally do 4 raised beds and rotate the different groups of plants to minimise disease and maximise yield. Recommend the little River Cottage Veg Patch handbook (about £8) for illustrations of this plus v amusing & interesting/informative advice
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: Fleecewife on October 05, 2011, 06:24:01 pm
Congrats on the new house  :trophy: :) :)

Raised beds?  why do you need them?  Is your soil very heavy clay, or waterlogged?  Vegetables have been grown on the flat for donkey's years and that is how I grow mine.  Raised beds as you are discovering do need to be filled with soil and expensive edges bought.  Sometimes from all the magazine articles, books etc I think new veggie gardeners think there is no other way to grow veggies than in raised beds.
A compromise is to make 4' wide beds which have no edging but are made slightly higher than the paths by tossing the path soil onto the beds and digging any manure/compost you have into the beds.  Gradually they get higher as more compost is added over the years.  They have the advantage of not collecting slugs and weeds in the boards, but they do have a sloping edge.
I agree with L&M that potatoes are too big to grow in raised beds and do very well grown in rows on the ground where you can earth them up to prevent greening.  I find that brassicas prefer the flat too, and runner beans are far easier to grow on the flat. Onions and garlic will be ok in beds but do perfectly well on the flat.  Courgettes can benefit from raised beds as they like plenty of manure dug in and to be up and away from too much wet on the surface.  Salads do very well in beds and you can get to them more easily to weed.  Unless your new house is somewhere very warm, you could be better growing tomatoes, cucs, chillies, peppers etc in a tunnel or under some sort of protection, but try some outdoors as long as you won't be too disheartened if they fail to ripen.
Sorry to rant on about raised beds but I think they are a commercial gimmick to separate gardeners from their money.
 How about trying one for salads in the first year then make more if you love them?
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: deepinthewoods on October 05, 2011, 06:31:32 pm
in my experience raised beds can yield more but need more watering, and do take alot of filling. fw's right, the best way would be to build a raised bed over time, by adding loads of manure or compost each year until the beds worth boarding off.
spent raised beds do make for great carrots and parsnips tho.
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: piggy on October 05, 2011, 07:27:05 pm
This was my first year of growing veg and i decided to go for raised beds due to dogs and kids running around,i made them myself its really easy and cost was very reasonable,mine our 10ft long by 5ft wide,from the wood yard i bought 3 10ft scaffolding planks and 1 of these i got them to cut  in half,4 corner pegs that's it,nail the 10ft side to the 5ft side to make the frame then put corner posts inside and nail the frame to them,hope that makes sense, total cost £35
I copied the idea from this site
www.vegetable-garden-guide.com/building-raised-beds.html (http://www.vegetable-garden-guide.com/building-raised-beds.html)

However for potatoes i don't think they would be deep enough so i just added another level on top so cost was £70.
To be honest it cost me more to fill with soil than it did to make but we filled the bottom  with a layer of rubble  and horse poo.
I now have 5 of these beds and will be adding a few more next year,For me they worked brilliantly

Karen.


Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: Mad Goatwoman of Madeley on October 05, 2011, 11:30:29 pm
I have raised beds because I find it easier than getting right down to ground level.  The first year they were built, I filled them with what I mucked out of the goat shed and left the worms to do the rest.  It wasn't that well rotted by the next spring but enough for me to be able to make hollows in, which I filled with compost and put in my plants.  I've done this is two different gardens and it's always worked for me.

You do have to be careful what you grow the first year as veg like carrots, for example, don't like freshly manured soil but squashed, courgettes, tomatoes, all loved it.
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: Plantoid on October 05, 2011, 11:46:53 pm
Raised beds dry out quicker than the flat unless your on really free draining soil, they also heat up much quicker so  you can save a few weeks if your "  OOOp Norf ".

The best thing I found is that in a raised bed you can create a fab soil ideal for your crops which if your in a granite rock or a wet heavy clay area is handy .

Over 16 years ago I made several  2 foot deep by  12 by 4 feet raised beds out of tanalized 4 x4 inch square posts and one inch by 4 inch decking boards .  There was a post every two feet set in concrete to stop the  walls bulging .

All board work was screwed to the posts with decent length stainess steel coach screws & big flat stainless washers .

Four years ago I happend by the old place , the beds were still there in use. Cheekily I stopped and called on the people there  ( not those who had purchased our home ) they were very pleased with the beds and the layout of the garden for the spaces inbetween were grassed and strimmed easily as well .

 Initally it seemed expensive but when I sustained a spinal injury from my day job in 1995 they were a god send,  I could  still grow things without hardly any bending .

This has led to me going OTT in my new home and having some 900 mm high beds built in class B engineering bricks as linked 900 x 900 cells in the back and front of the bungalow .

 These new brick beds were built this year  , I was late in getting the beds into crops ( last 10 days of July )because the builders were way over schedule by four months .

I am trying out the " square foot gardening " methods as I see no point in my struggling trying to dig over yards of soil that will not be used to grow stuff in .
There is a book about it , it is called by the same name ..is for USA & Canada but easily transfers to the UK.

 I have however managed to grow some great turnips to 3 inches across without a woody one in sight .
 I have had numerous three inch long  by 1 1/4 inch in diameter radishes ., again no woodyness .
The lettuces & swiss chard are fantastic ..
Several hundred late carrots  one seed every three inches and four inches between rows .
 i have made a guage rod by drilling 3 mm  and bigger 5 mm holes in 36 inches of aluminium angle.
One side gives three and six inches , the other side gives four and eight inches ..it was a doddle to sow the seeds  ..took about four minutes ..I have no thinning out so reduced carrot fly probs & no disturbing the other carrots .
 I've used the guage to sow /plant out every other veg as well

 I have about 100 beet root.. now over an inch indiameter .
 I've also put in cabbages, dwarf kale , dwarf sprouts and over 100 over wintering onions .
To keep my lass happy because of the behind schedule I have also used four of the rear garden beds for flowers that have bulbs , corms or tubers till the front beds and parking spaces are fully finished .

Weeding takes a few minutes by hand  ..no hoeing . its easy to sprinkle epsom salts  or fertilizer  etc. on the beds

When  a crop is taken out I've been  using a trowel full of well composted horse muck  and dug it into the area then re sown or planted a seedling straight away .  That way there is little chance of weeds coming up.

Obviously  carrots & other forking root crops won't be going into the manured beds till it has been used for nearly a year .
 

 I designed the garden to have  the beds to be near the bungalow because I'd rqather go out aand collect veg close to the bungalow than have to go 50 mtrs down the garden in rain or snow etc to do it.
 All the beds were set up in layers , on the bottom is 4 inches of soil , 4 inches of sharp sand , 4 inches of well composted ( 3 yrs or older  horse muck with straw ) then repeat with soil, sand ,horse muck till the bed contents were 9 inches from the top  then added a five inch topper layer of bagged quality sterilized loam.

 I've so many worms in the beds it's amazing.
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: Sylvia on October 06, 2011, 08:06:50 am
I agree with Fleecewife, save your raised beds for when you can no longer get down to soil level. You can still plant closely on ground level, just space out your level beds giving yourself enough room to walk between them. As long as you don't tread on them you can plant them up as you would on raised beds.
My great nephew has just built me some lovely raised beds as I am getting older and have a bit of back trouble. They are made of timber and should see me out!! ;D
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: lachlanandmarcus on October 06, 2011, 08:08:10 am
I found the raised beds far easier than a ground bed to weed. Partly cos the soil isnt compacted. Partly cos it's higher up so less bending. But also partly because they are a smallish defined area so are manageable. When I did ground
I filled ours with bottom half very very well rotted horse manure. If you contact a local horse livery stables, you will get it at little or no cost. (If it is bagged up for you, it will def cost but if you bag it yourself it should be free or no more than £1 a sack. They may even have sacks you can use and return!
I filled it up with our own free draining topsoil, excavated when we renovated the ruined house!

I have to say, using deep enough beds, none of the carrots have forked, and the plants all grew very happily; The only class dunce has been celeriac which has never really got going. everything else has been amazing, and really encouraged me to do it all again next year!
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: Cavendish on October 06, 2011, 09:19:24 am
Wow thanks for all of your replies, some really good advice for me to digest, I would like to add that I have started to dig out the area where I am intending to grow, almost immediately below the surface are lots of loose stones and clay?... I suppose that this is not that great for growing in??? I noticed this a week ago when digging in another part of the garden, thats when I thought maybe raised beds might be better idea, but as you say straight into the flat for things like potatoes etc maybe the way to go and bow up the rows etc. maybe I should invest in a good greenhouse for toms and peppers etc instead.

If I manured the area in question would it stink out the garden and upset the neighbours, I have never use rotted manure in a garden before, sorry if this sounds like a stupid question but if you dont ask you wont know.

Decisions decsions  ??? ???
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: deepinthewoods on October 06, 2011, 10:14:12 am
well rotted manure should smell lovely!!
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: Cavendish on October 06, 2011, 11:02:04 am
In that case I'll put some in the air freshner.

Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: lachlanandmarcus on October 06, 2011, 11:13:33 am
Really well rotted manure will be almost black and crumbly and sweet smelling. Fresher stuff will be brown and whiffy with detectable poops/bedding. Watch out for very fresh bedding containing wood shavings as these are very hungry as they start to rot down and can suck a lot of nutrients out of the soil as they go. Once fairly rotted they are fine but they dont rot as quick, Straw, wood pellets, hemp based bedding are all quicker to rot.
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: Fleecewife on October 06, 2011, 01:00:26 pm
In that case I'll put some in the air freshner.
:D

Ah - with a clay layer you are justified in having raised beds  :)  Make sure though that you break through it before you build your beds so you have good drainage.

I agree with all the 'pros' everyone has put about raised beds - it's just that you never seem to see any 'cons', and there are plenty. One reason they don't work for me is that I use a rotavator...........
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: Cavendish on October 06, 2011, 01:14:28 pm
fleecewife, even though there is clay in the soil would it still be ok to dump a load of compost on top mix it in a bit with manure etc and build rows like you suggested previously?...

Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: Plantoid on October 06, 2011, 02:34:02 pm
Clay & stones.
 Clay usually has all the nutrients needed for plant growth it is the fine particles of it that cause the prob stopping drainage and closing down the air paths.

clay can easily be made into friable soil by adding rotted material that makes Humus , add horticultural grade sharp sand ( stuff that is not sea side sand with shells aka lime in it ) , add 4 to 6 mm grit .
 
The first couple of years are the worse  but if you double dig ( with a mini excavator  Hee hee ) down to say a metre and layer the infill including soil in 100 mm layers things soon shape up .
Sprinkling in  lime helps crumb the clay so does  bags of opened plaster that  would normally be thrown away & are instead liberally sprinkled on /into the soil .   .

 I made my first five level beds on hard dried out blue clay and 2 inch stones in what used to be  an ancient pond bed  that used to be in the middle of farm pastures where the new housing estate was built in 1982 .
 The mini digger was a real boon . the top layer got a decent dose of frost

 After the first year from construction  I re dug the beds out by hand and heaped it all on the path ways , made sure it was fairly well remixed and added a big barrow of black rotted horse turds & one level barrow of sharp sand per metre run  ..each bed was 36 inches wide  by 30 feet long with 24 inch concreted pathways all round . There was a massive amount of worms right through the new soil .
 
 The next crops were fantastic .. I'll see if I still have a piccky of them & if so will photo bucket them into the post .

 
Title: Re: Raised Bed for New House!
Post by: Blonde on October 16, 2011, 08:33:01 am
Hi All, me and the Mrs have just bought and moved into our first home!.
I have grown in pots / grow bags for the last couple of years with fairly good results, but this year as I have new and bigger garden I want to put raised beds in, and up the scale of produce that I can get from next years crop.

I have never built raised beds before and have limited knowledge about what to fill them with for growing next year, can you please provide me with some advice?

the things I will be growing are: potatoes early and main crop, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, Peas and broad beans, salad stuff, courgettes, Chillies, Peppers, etc

I will also be putting in some fruit trees but these will go in the borders.

Thanks in advance.
Straw, manure, compost...... till you build it up to the level you want it.  Turn weekly for 6 weeks and keep moist and you should have a good friable soil that you can plant any thing in to.