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Raised beds and compost cost

morning all...

We’re building some new raised beds using landscape sleepers; and need a cheap way of filling them. 

Can anybody think of a good reason why we shouldn’t fill the bottom foot or so with straw bales? At £3 apiece locally, that seems a good lot of bulk for a great price.

Out of necessity, they are 70cm deep. A metre wide too means an enormous amount of growing medium required and we’re trying to think of the most cost effective way of filling them.

Of course we’ll be putting all suitable garden and kitchen waste in them...

Thoughts anyone?

Thanks in advance.
Cheers
Brian
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Posts

  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 6,549
    I filled mine using free farmyard manure from a local farm who was happy to have the stuff taken away. My local nursary sells dig your own mulch for £1 a bag so I mixed in a load of that to reduce the nutrients a bit and chucked in some clayey soil from molehills. The top layer is bagged compost. Homemade compost works just as well for the bottom of a raised bed if you can make a load in a short amount of time.
    Unlike the brain, the stomach warns you when it's empty.
  • Thanks for that. I’m guessing the manure needs bagging up yourself. Straw bales has the appeal of coming in big, ready to take away bundles. Worth £3 apiece unless there’s good reason not to.
    All that other stuff you use, we’re onto that😊
  • SmudgeriiSmudgerii Posts: 185
    If buried deep enough they will not germinate, a lesson learnt the hard way...  but they will rot down fairly quickly dropping the level in the bed in the first 12 months or so.

    it is a cheap, quick and simple way of getting a bed started.
  • That’s a good point, Smudge. Thanks for your interest. 
    I reckon we’re gonna do it👍🏻
  • SmudgeriiSmudgerii Posts: 185
    The other thing to remember is...  take the string off 😂

    get them in place before removing it though
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 39,658
    Hi @brian stoatthe only thing to remember is that the straw will rot down, so the level in the bed will also do that.
    Soil levels in raised beds tend to sink a bit anyway, especially over winter, so bear that in mind. If you can get the bales in soon, leave them exposed and let them rot down a bit before adding anything else  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • purplerallimpurplerallim LincolnshirePosts: 3,990
    Mine done last March had 6 inches approx.of straw in the bottom.  Too much manure or unrotted kitchen waste will make the bed too hot for planting many things, so it depends what is going in next year. The cheapest way is to get a builders bag of top soil and mix it with end of season cheep growbags of compost. Just remember that it will weight alot so your bed needs to be robust and well lined to stop the sleeper rotting. Hope this helps.
  • All useful tips there. Thanks very much everyone.
    brian :)
  • SmudgeriiSmudgerii Posts: 185
    Fairygirl said:
    Hi @brian stoatthe only thing to remember is that the straw will rot down, so the level in the bed will also do that.
    Soil levels in raised beds tend to sink a bit anyway, especially over winter, so bear that in mind. If you can get the bales in soon, leave them exposed and let them rot down a bit before adding anything else  :)

    The problem with leaving them exposed is germination..  the bales will rot whatever method is chosen.  imo best to bury from the outset and deal with the ‘sinkage’ as and when required.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 7,820
    You could put a wanted ad for topsoil on Freecycle if there's a group in your area, but you might have to bag it up and transport it (and it could contain weeds!). 
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