How To

How To: Raised Beds

At the moment, plot 38 feels more like a lumber mill than an allotment! On the weekend we took another delivery of lumber from a local reclamation yard & that should give us enough to complete most of the raised beds. (As a side note, I noticed they were using trestles knocked up from old pieces of lumber – i did the exact same with pieces of left over pallet & they have been really useful in cutting the last raised beds).

Now, you may recall me mentioning how flexibility is key when designing the layout – well after a chat with our allotment neighbour, turns out B&Q were selling off clearance plug plants! So, out goes the plan of moving the strawberry runners into a raised bed & then being able to clear the last part of ground, in comes the new plan of getting purple sprouting, broccoli & kale into a bed & actually get something growing!

We were originally planning on doing ‘no dig’ beds, however we had to clear nettles & bindweed from the plot, so having turned the surface grass over, we have now proceeded as follows…

1. Work out how to build a massive raised bed so that you’re happy its square & can get it into position (i had to do this one by myself, will definetely be waiting for Becks next time!)

2. Flatten down the turf & level the bed.

3. Put down a complete layer of pre-soaked cardboard, this will suppress the weeds and help with retaining the moisture. (Note, we didn’t have room, so i laid it all out and kept soaking it with a watering can till it was saturated).

4. Get a nice layer of well rotted manure down as a base (and if you have access to nettles that aren’t in seed, get those down onto the cardboard first).

5. If you have any grass cuttings, scatter those in a thin layer over the manure & then top up the bed with soil.

6. Finally, get your plants in to the bed1 & then add appropriate protection from whatever pests might like to eat them!


1 – Assuming you’re not running out of daylight like i was!

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