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3 March 2015

Making a Raised Bed

I recently spent some time making another raised bed for growing vegetables, so I thought I'd tell you how I did it.

I was fortunate to be given some timber decking by my next-door neighbour, which was in 8ft lengths and about 5" deep. This was ideal for making an 8ft x 4ft bed, which just fitted the available space. Four feet across is about right for a raised bed as you can reach the centre without needing to stand on the soil.

First I marked out an area slightly larger all round than the bed is to be, using spray paint, but you could do it with string and pegs. My bed was going on what was previously lawn so I allowed enough space between it and the next bed to get my lawnmower through. This also provides an adequate width of path between the beds.

I then removed the grass, first cutting it into squares with an edge cutter, and knocked all the loose soil from the grass. I stockpiled the grass squares ready for using in the bottom of the bed.

The next job was to make the frame, which was two boards deep, giving a raised bed depth of about 10". You need a peg for each corner about 2" x 2" and about 12" longer than the depth of your bed. Most guides will tell you to screw the boards into the pegs, but my next-door neighbour and DIY instructor suggested using nails about 4" long and knocking them through the board and peg. The part protruding through the peg can be hammered over flat against the peg, so that it can't pull out. I have used this method for my other raised beds and it seems to work.

You will also need a couple of intermediate pegs for the long sides of your bed, a similar length and size to the corner ones. These will help to stop the sides of your bed bowing outwards when the weight of the soil is acting against them.

Dig holes for the corner and side pegs so that your frame will sit level. If your plot is sloping, as mine is, you may need to block up some gaps beneath your boards, or else lower the ground so that your bed is level. I used reclaimed bricks to fill in the gaps.

Once your frame is in place you can start filling. I placed all my stockpiled turves upside down in the bottom of the bed, which gets them out of the way and raises the soil level. This time I placed a layer of cardboard on top to act as a barrier to weeds, as advocated by some people, though I haven't bothered previously. I then backfilled the bed with soil removed from the grass, and some spare topsoil remaining from another job, before spreading some well-rotted horse manure. All being well I should have some vegetables growing there in a few months time.
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