Setting up raised beds

Hello everyone. 

First time posting so please be gentle. I have recently moved into my new house and for the first time I have a garden. 

It is on a slope and at the bottom of the slope I have some shrubs in beds that with 2ft old railway sleepers forming the back. See picture. Behind that, and further down the slope I am installing some raised beds next week. They will have poor quality soil on the base as shown in the picture but I am building them two beds that are 2ft high, 3 ft deep and 8 ft long each. 

My question is what soil etc to fill them with now so that hopefully they will be ready for planting in come spring?

Top soil? Leaves? Manure? Mixtures? 

Thanks in advance.. 

Lee

Posts

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 4,391
    You need top soil primarily, but could also mix in bagged manure and/or leaf mould with perhaps some horticultural grit for better drainage. We did a price comparison recently and there didn't seem to be much difference in buying bagged top soil (25 or 30 litre bags, which are fairly easy to carry) or a ton of top soil in a builders dumpy bag which you then have to dig out and barrow to where you want it. We're going for the easier if slightly more expensive option as we've got lots of steps. 
  • BLTBLT Posts: 525
    Good ieas Lizzie, I have to say I have 2 raised bed each a metre square and about a 30cms deep. I had one manured and one non manured for carrots. I used a similar mix and was surprised that it cost me about £80 to fill the two beds.. It will take a lot of veg to recoup that coast.. My mistake was siting the 2 beds side by side without a gap. It makes it easier for weeding if you can get to it... 
    I wish you every success in your new home and garden..
  • ZeroZero1ZeroZero1 Posts: 564
    2 ft high seems very high for a raised bed, not really required but if you like it, why not. I would definitely consider getting some horse manure in bulk from a nearby stable - you can also buy it by the ton. It can be free too but usually you bag and transport. If you put this under the topsoil it will rot down and provide nutrients for years to come. 
    Make use you can get access to all your raised bed from all sides, then you don't have to step on them - not too near the fence. 
    You can buy topsoil online by the ton too, much cheaper than bags. Do treat any wood you use otherwise it will soon rot. I used old scaffolding boards which I got from ebay. 
  • Thanks for all your comments so far. 

    I don't mind about recouping any costs. 

    The reason the beds are 2ft high is simply due to the extent of the slope in my garden. 2 ft at the bottom of the slope will equate to 1 ft at the top where it will join the sleepers already in the picture.

    I will hunt around for free top soil and manure. 
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,459
    Agree a mix of topsoil and well-rotted manure or garden compost is best.  

    One word of advice, if the bed walls are being built from wood you should line the insides with plastic to protect the wood from moisture in teh soil.  You can just fold over the edges and staple it on or, for neatness, hide the edges with treated wood, such as roofing lathes, screwed to the supports.   If the level comes above the base of your existing sleeper wall, you need to protect that too.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Obelixx said:
    Agree a mix of topsoil and well-rotted manure or garden compost is best.  

    One word of advice, if the bed walls are being built from wood you should line the insides with plastic to protect the wood from moisture in teh soil.  You can just fold over the edges and staple it on or, for neatness, hide the edges with treated wood, such as roofing lathes, screwed to the supports.   If the level comes above the base of your existing sleeper wall, you need to protect that too.
    The wood is treated. Do I still need to line it?
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,459
    We had wooden retaining walls to level the ground for a veggie and fruit plot in our last garden. It was all made with treated railway sleepers and to heights varying from knee to chest high but the chaps bulding it still lined the insides with plastic.  It was still standing strong when we sold that house and garden nearly 20 years later.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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