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Affordable raised beds

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  • Affordable raised beds

    After three seasons of wrestling with the heavy clay soil and encroaching weeds on my plot Iíve come to the conclusion that raised beds are the answer. However, I donít have hundreds of pounds to spend on fancy raised bed kits. I donít mind building my own from scratch, except Iím a novice and not sure what sort of timber to buy or where from. Would welcome any advice or recommendations.

  • #2
    I've done mine as semi-raised beds, the sides and ends each being three lengths of timber gravel board fixed together with battens (approx 18" high) then sunk into the ground such that the tops are close to being level - about 4" proud of the ground at the high end, 7-8" at the lower end.

    Once the timbers were in place I dug out the contents (poor quality sandy soil) to a depth of around 3 feet, lined the resultant hole with heavy duty weed barrier membrane (stretching almost to the top of the boards) stapled in place, before refilling with most of what came out, topped off with a decent layer of manure and one of topsoil.

    The beds are now waiting for the weather and worms to "do their thing" ready for next year, although I have already bunged in some veggies - overwintering onions, peas (hopefully) and broad beans, a few kale for use as baby leaves and a few PSB.

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    • #3
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      Scaffolding planks?

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      • #4
        after battling my disabilities I made my first two beds from scratch, then found Scaffolding Direct | High Quality Scaffolding & Trade Supplies the convenience of having the kits outweighed any saving, quality is brilliant so my last 3 beds are theirs

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        • #5
          If your clay based plot gets as wet as mine then you may well need to spend a couple of quid on treated timber as as good as scaffolding planks are they dont last long on our dripping wet beds.

          Euro pallets are awesome although involve some heavy work splitting them . Ive used the 7ft x 4 x2 bases from them and coated them old cut up compost bags ( black side out) stuck on with silicon, although i have wondered how long the plastic will last and whether it will leach.
          Last edited by jackarmy; 07-11-2017, 08:58 AM.

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          • #6
            Hi - just to add my experience of raised beds - our issue was not the cost of making the surround for the bed but getting enough affordable compost to get a decent depth - we got cow manure which rotted down well but was not enough - we also got green council compost for free but difficult to get enough in a normal hatchback. I have looked at buying in compost but it is really expensive so we are plodding on with making compost and topping up as we can.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by SelkirkAlex View Post
              after battling my disabilities I made my first two beds from scratch, then found Scaffolding Direct | High Quality Scaffolding & Trade Supplies the convenience of having the kits outweighed any saving, quality is brilliant so my last 3 beds are theirs
              Which kits do you mean Alex? I looked at the link but Iím not sure where to start.

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              • #8
                I don’t think this will be too much of an issue because we’ve already started building up the beds by digging out paths around them and piling it on the beds, we also get bulk deliveries of both council compost and manure to our site.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TrixC View Post
                  I donít think this will be too much of an issue because weíve already started building up the beds by digging out paths around them and piling it on the beds, we also get bulk deliveries of both council compost and manure to our site.
                  Surely that's all you need? They don't have to have sides, with all the associated problems of rot,warping,pests living between boards and soil.
                  A nice domed bed will be better for drainage and give a bigger surface area to plant into.
                  My Majesty made for him a garden anew in order
                  to present to him vegetables and all beautiful flowers.- Offerings of Thutmose III to Amon-Ra (1500 BCE)

                  Diversify & prosper


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                  • #10
                    You can make raised beds like the old "lazy beds" with no timber at all, my Uncle in Norfolk had a small market garden business and he just made mounds of soil. Lots of compost/manure, don't walk on them, no digging at all, but you will need to get some soil or conditioner from your local council re-cycling to add to create the heaps. They will be small to start and will grow each year as you add more organic matter on top, grow in blocks rather than rows and make sure you rotate your crops each year.
                    If I'm not on here, I'm probably fishing.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TrixC View Post
                      Which kits do you mean Alex? I looked at the link but Iím not sure where to start.
                      look under garden and lifestyle, then raised bed kits, I bought the tantalised ones because of the weather here, the 10% extra cost is worth it for a longer lifespan

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                      • #12
                        the guys are quite right by far the biggest cost was filling the beds and also to my mind the last place you want to skimp on, using a good filling at the outset is much easier than trying to go back and rectify it later.

                        good doesn't necessarily mean expensive, just think about what you are filling the beds with, what you can easily add to improve soil quality and fertility.

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                        • #13
                          I used 150X25 treated gravel boards with scrap 75X50 for corners. 50mm stainless screws.
                          All cut ends and scrap were treated with croecote.

                          When building beds or compost bins don't forget the eventual weight when it's all fixed together. Heavy items slide easily on long planks.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by burnie View Post
                            You can make raised beds like the old "lazy beds" with no timber at all, my Uncle in Norfolk had a small market garden business and he just made mounds of soil. Lots of compost/manure, don't walk on them, no digging at all, but you will need to get some soil or conditioner from your local council re-cycling to add to create the heaps. They will be small to start and will grow each year as you add more organic matter on top, grow in blocks rather than rows and make sure you rotate your crops each year.
                            This is what weíve done at the moment but there are two issues with it. First is that quite a lot of space is wasted as you canít plant right to the edges of the bed the way you could if the edges were reinforced with timber. The other is that in the absence of a physical barrier grass from the paths is constantly encroaching.

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                            • #15
                              I looked at them and thought they looked ideal, but for 5 kits they want to charge £99 delivery!

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