NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Raised beds  (Read 19919 times)

Guy

  • Joined Feb 2008
  • East Devon
Raised beds
« on: February 04, 2008, 12:04:06 pm »
Hi.
We are in the process of building 8 new raised beds. I have read lots of articles on the benefits of the different ways of constructing/digging and preparing them. I would be keen for any first hand tips or information about what has gone well for you  or any pit falls to avoid.
 Thanks all
G.
relax and enjoy life - let others do the worrying
Voss Electric Fence

carl

  • Joined Oct 2007
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2008, 01:09:37 pm »
look at mine, then do the opposite, as I have done a rush job last year, and now they have collapsed. so i will be eager for some tips. ( apart from spending too much brass on  materials).

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2008, 06:55:39 pm »
Hi, Guy

There's another thread on here somewhere about building raised beds...

Rosemary

sallyw

  • Joined Jan 2008
  • Buckinghamshire
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2008, 01:53:08 pm »
yes there is another thred, but in the meantime my advice (two weeks into my 'raised bed project') is not to make them too large. We used twelve new sleepers (2.6 m long) to make three boxes, screwed them together - all fine albeit very heavy. Then we tried to get them level (lots of random red bricks stuffed in various places. Looks pretty but took a while to get there. We have also made 70cm paths all around with weed matting (1m wide) this was a good idea as we pulled the matting into the inside of the sleeper and up the inside edge. This will hopefully prevent soil seeping from any gaps caused by the brickwork or undulations.
The we came to fill them. .........
We stupidly thought that a tonne of top soil in each together with the remnants of a bonfire and a couple of bags of dung would do the job. Well 3 tonnes later we are half way there. We need about another 2 or so tonnes of mulch or dung/straw to bulk them up.
In addition to putting two tonnes of gravel on the paths we have got fairly fit!
Ultimately we will put a cage over the whole thing.
It has been a longer job and more expensive than expected and with hind sight I would have spent more time levelling the ground and been less ambitious but I think we will end up with the mother of all veggie patches protected from clay soil and deer. :o

rustyme

  • Guest
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2008, 03:56:58 pm »
try mixing some gypsum in with the clay. It breaks it up well, over a year or so.
      An easy way to calculate the amount of soil needed: one ton of soil is very roughly a cubic yard . It depends on all sorts of things to be exact i.e. type of top soil , how moist it is , how many stones etc....    But it is easy to work out, one cubic yard will cover 3 square yards one foot deep or six sq ft six inches deep, you get the idea..... If you use the gypsum on the clay beneath the top soil,and add plenty of compost , you can gradually mix/dig deeper into the ground each year . Don't worry about filling the bed from the start, you will get depth soon enough . I know everyone does things their own way ....and this would just be mine , yours is just different (NOT wrong) to mine. I just go with the cheapest and easiest way!!! Good luck with whatever you do though.....cheers

Russ

Guy

  • Joined Feb 2008
  • East Devon
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2008, 04:21:27 pm »
Some scary figures there, looks like a much bigger job than first anticipated , although some really good builds to be getting on with-Thanks a lot.
Better start shovelling and cancelling any gym memberships - looks like I shall get enough work outs with the beds!! :D Will update when we are well underway
relax and enjoy life - let others do the worrying

Fluffywelshsheep

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Near Stirling, Central Scotland
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2008, 06:31:28 pm »
where can you find gypsum  ???
my soil is very clay (not using the  clay for veg see my bit on raised bed thread ) but the rest of the garden is clay soil the kind that you measure about another 2 inches taller with ever new step lol



rustyme

  • Guest
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2008, 06:50:43 pm »
you can get it from some garden nurseries , or just get some from the builders yard , gypsum = plaster. I can't remember which one to get now , but if you tell the builders yard people that you just want a basic gypsum , they should give you the right one. But failing that Linz , my soil was very much clay under about 9" of top soil, I just added plenty of compost and manure . You can also grow a green manure of alfalfa and after it has been growing about 6-8 weeks dig it in . The clay I had was even blue in some big areas ,(that generally means waterlogged airless clay) that has all gone now and the soil is really nice loamy crumbly stuff on the whole. It is also like that down two really good fork depths , so it can be done and doesn't take that long .  The gypsum , by the way , makes the tiny smooth clay flat particles stick together, to form a larger more irregular shaped particle. These new particles form what looks like crumbly soil and allows more air into the ground and therefore the roots of the plants.

Fluffywelshsheep

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Near Stirling, Central Scotland
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2008, 05:01:18 pm »
thanksfor this i'll have to have a good at that, being that it is plaster i would presume it alters the soil type to more of a lime contents (alcoline)
?

rustyme

  • Guest
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2008, 05:41:05 pm »
in short no.... gypsum doesn't change the ph of the soil .   Gypsum is calcium sulphate and will add calcium to your soil . It isn't a good idea to add gypsum to soil if the ph is below 5 or 5.5 if I remember correctly? , as it releases  soil aluminium . This is a poison to plants, once again I hope I have remembered correctly !!  So check your soils ph ...if below 5.5 add lime to bring above 5.5 then add gypsum to add calcium and stick clay particles together, to make a more loamy type soil . If you had old lime plaster ,or mortar ? , that would change the ph . It would be hard to work out though, as it would take a long time to release the lime into the soil . 

mad dogs and us two

  • Joined Feb 2008
  • Nr St Hilaire
    • La Croix Bourge
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2008, 11:54:47 pm »
Hi all

Just to butt in for a moment,

where do you get topsoil from?

The area where we have had the fosse septique put is just solid clay and puddles like mad when it rains,

Although I would say most of our 'soil' is clay.

thanks

Steve
Ain't life grand!

rustyme

  • Guest
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2008, 12:14:29 am »
sorry ..no idea where you would get it from in France.....but top soil is just sub soil with the addition of organic matter , basically anyway. So therefore if you can add organic matter , ie manure/ compost etc. then you will be creating a top soil . The addition of gypsum will aid the clay particles to stick together, and therefore aid drainage and aeration . Growing a green manure crop will help to ...just grow something like alfalfa/lucerne , and dig it in after 8-10 weeks or so . You can just buy it in but there really is no need unless you don't have enough depth of ANY soil . All you need is a good spade and or fork , some riggers type gloves , very cheap but really save the old hands ,and some time and a good strong back ...or a high pain threshold. ;) ::) Just get as much compost /manure in as possible and you will be away . Does that help at all mate ?

mad dogs and us two

  • Joined Feb 2008
  • Nr St Hilaire
    • La Croix Bourge
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2008, 12:28:15 am »
Hi Russ

not even dandelions are growing where the fosse has been put, I could just buy a kiln I suppose,

well done for spotting that we are in France, I forgot to mention that.

Steve
Ain't life grand!

rustyme

  • Guest
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2008, 12:34:30 am »
not much will grow in it if it is just clay !!! It has no air or nutrients in it , or the nutrients are locked up . But add organic matter and therefore nutrients , air and a good soil structure and you will be able to grow anything in it ..including loads of weeds... ::) ;D 

katelock

  • Joined Mar 2008
Re: Raised beds
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2008, 07:55:09 am »
hi all. I also have three raised beds over almost rock in an old quarry. The manure I put in to the beds in January has failed to break up and still is in great clods. The soil is also very clayey and wet. I was wondering if the gypsum treatment. Has anyone needed to put drainage into their raised beds if there isn't much soil underneath them? the soil does seem very wet, even though we haven't had much rain (I am in devon, where not much rain means it hasn't rained every day!!)
Kate

 

Raised beds

Started by Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

Replies: 18
Views: 4868
Last post March 04, 2013, 10:33:57 pm
by Mad Goatwoman of Madeley
Raised beds

Started by Crofterloon

Replies: 7
Views: 2207
Last post July 01, 2013, 11:29:59 pm
by shygirl
raised beds

Started by Ann and Rob

Replies: 10
Views: 3436
Last post June 09, 2014, 10:54:55 am
by Ina
Raised beds.. Any tips?

Started by TomGoodWannabe

Replies: 20
Views: 16201
Last post September 17, 2008, 05:37:59 pm
by Pebbles
Top Tips for raised beds please ...

Started by Red

Replies: 9
Views: 3252
Last post March 29, 2011, 01:59:07 pm
by Red

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Little Peckers

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2019. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS