No dirt to dig

Growing your own food for fun and for the certainty of natural produce is appealing but not all of us have a lawn, great soil or perfect drainage to convert our outdoor space into a lush vegetable garden. If you look at those faultless vegetable gardens with envy, but think that you don’t have the space, time or the energy, think again. The solution is to build a raised bed.

Not all gardening involves bending and kneeling, the ease and flexibility of raised bed gardening makes it ideal for gardeners of all ages and abilities. Everything is within arm’s reach, weeding, feeding and planting becomes very convenient.

Contained gardening is simply a way of maximising space and time, without having to disturb the soil underneath. Best of all you can have it growing all in one weekend with time to spare!

There are many advantages to using a raised bed, it can be sized to fit your needs and the space you have available. It can be used to create extra space for the already full garden or to keep a specific plant group separate like strawberries or berry fruit, which have been known to take over a vegetable patch. Poor soil is no longer an issue as you control the soil garden soil is not suitable though - it is too heavy, will dry out quickly and become compact.

Good drainage is a given, no more pooling or drowned plants and crops are now out of reach of any dog that loves to dig. Frost protection is a simple matter of nailing supports on the corners and draping cloth over the whole bed and if plant support is needed then this happens as normal with stakes and bamboo tipi's, or you can put the bed against a sunny fence for trellis support.

raised vege garden2

Everything a plant needs in the garden is the same in the raised bed, the same amount of sun, fertiliser and pest protection. But because all sides of the bed are exposed to the sun and wind they will dry out quicker, so do need more water. To help keep raised beds moist we suggest you use a water retention product to conserve the water at the root zone where it is needed.

What you plant is also much the same, your plant choices are only limited by height restriction because of the depth of the bed, other than that you have free rein to plant whatever you like. Mix it up don’t plant in straight lines, plant in blocks or groups. Add flowers for a touch of colour, plant herbs next to vegetables to maximise their pest repellent properties and bring in the bees. Add more permanent planting like rhubarb, let plants cascade over the sides and fill any empty spaces with the quicker growing salad crops. There are many varied and interesting options to this style of gardening, throw traditional out the window and go for it!

Their versatility doesn’t stop there though a raised garden bed can start life as a compost bin. For a temporary compost bin keep one garden empty, add a thick layer of newspaper or grass clippings to the bottom, and then make quick compost as normal. A layer of green waste followed by a layer of brown, the only difference is that you need to cover each layer with container or vegetable mix. Spread blood and bone every few layers, make the last layer the container or vegetable mix. The compost will rot and the soil level will fall, once it has done this fill it up to the top and plant as normal. Cover the whole bed as you are making the compost to keep animals out.