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Raised bed planning

Hi all. First. Forum. Ever. Wanted to speak to my fellow allotment buddy’s but we rarely cross paths now! Really some advice for my allotment please! Got it in March this year and planted some beds with all the same veg and some a with mixture. What’s the pros and cons? We have 15 raised beds approx 2m x 1m so no shortage of space but want to plan better next spring. We had lots of crops all at once then nothing. Looked at successional planting but not sure whether to do this row by row in the same bed or batch plant a whole bed then move on to another?! I know I need to move things round to avoid pests etc. But want to hear your advice on raised bed planning please👍🏼


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,856
    Hi and welcome to the Forum. 
    I don't grow much veg, and I'm not very methodical when I do, but this post will push you back up to the top of the listings for a while. 

  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,511
    Hi e*jay,

    The usual method is to grow all the same type of crop, or compatible crops that like to grow together in the same bed, one year, then rotate that type/group into the next bed the following year. 

    For succession growing, say you are growing leafy salads in one bed, sow a row, then a few weeks later, another row and so on. That way you will get a continuous supply to pick and eat.

    If you are growing something that is planted later, you can grow a quick growing ‘catch crop’ in the empty space first. So I grow young spinach in the bed destined for my tomatoes, while the young plants are growing on in the poly tunnel until they are big enough to elbow out the spinach. 

    Similarly, for crops that are sown, grown and eaten earlier, you can plant a late catch crop in that space after they are done and dusted. Early salad potatoes, for example, can be replaced with brassica plants like broccoli and cabbage, to grow over the winter months.

    You rotation plan does depend on what you are growing, and sometimes things just don’t fit neatly into categories or ideal plans. The main thing is to keep rotating!

    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,008
    edited December 2019
    Have a read of this advice from the RHS - Explains crop rotation and soil preparation.

    As there are only the two of us for much of the year I tend to buy plants like cabbages, broccoli, cauli, beetroot and oak leaf lettuce as plugs in trays of 6 or 12 as they come and plant those out then, a couple of weeks later I'll get some more.   They all go in their own allotted bed depending on the rotation.  That way, with any luck, I get a succession.

    Garlic grows well here but not in my last garden so I now buy a bag of bulbs, split them and plant them in December.   OH likes potatoes but I won't be bothering next year.  We don't eat enough to justify the space and if you only harvest as you eat them then even waxy earlies left in the soil too long become big floury maincrops.

    There's a local chap who sells organic baby tomato plants at a plant fair at Easter and I buy 2 or 3 each of all the varieties I want to try.  He has about 50 or 60 varieties so no need for me to buy seeds.   Hard to find decent chilies and peppers here so I'll be sowing my onw next year and starting them early in the polytunnel as they need a long growing season.

    I also find it simpler now to buy just one or two plants of the pumpkins we like - utchi kuri, butternut - but I have to sow if I want blue ones.  I train them up frames or obelisks to save on ground space and get the fruits up in teh sun for better flavour.   I find one courgette plant is enough especially if you give it plenty of room, some well-rotted manure and regular watering in dry spells.

    Plants like rhubarb and globe artichokes need their own dedicated beds as they stay in one place a long time, as do soft fruits like blackcurrants, redcurrants, blackberries etc. 

    Keep a good compost heap system and use the results to improve the soil every time you clear a bed and re-plant. 

    Keep space in your freezer for gluts.  I sowed 36 broad bean seeds in October and nearly all have become plants so we'll have a glut.  I make passata and dried tomatoes with excess toms and they see us thru winter for sauces and soups and bruschetta.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • PlashingPlashing Posts: 328
    Go onto Charles Dowding web site and join its about no dig and the benefits of planting beds up to give you a succession of crops,I have joined and have had the best year ever from following his advice in organic growing.Hope this helps. Peter
  • e*jaye*jay Posts: 2
    Thanks so much that’s been so helpful! Never thought about some plants growing fast then making room for others. This happened with my radish and I had an empty bed for a while as I didn’t realise how quick the turn around time was! Excited to go up to the allotment tomorrow with my children now and start a proper plan for next year! Great advice 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼
  • Hi 😊 
    Lots of chat on this thread sharing news and experiences of growing on an allotment ... everyone’s welcome 😊 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • I'm not a fan of raised beds. They dry out too quickly and because I'm less attentive perhaps than I should be I just don't get the same results as if it was planted straight into the ground. 
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,334
    I'm not a fan of raised beds. They dry out too quickly and because I'm less attentive perhaps than I should be I just don't get the same results as if it was planted straight into the ground. 
    ...but if you garden on very heavy or very stony soil - raised beds can be a godsend. Do agree you need to be more attentive to the watering though.🙂

    Welcome to the forum e*jay - hope you get a bumper harvest next year! All veg gardeners have gluts, plants that end up going on the compost heap and empty spaces in the soil but it is possible to minimise the waste. Don't be disheartened if the first couple of seasons don't work out too well. After a couple of seasons you'll find out what works for you.
    I have always grown fruit and veg which was difficult or expensive to buy in the supermarket. Fresh peas, raspberries, currants, asparagus etc and two courgette plants was more than enough to keep the 2 of us in baby, finger sized courgettes. 

    Top tip - don't bother growing stuff you don't like to eat!

    Visit your local library. There are many excellent books about growing veg and I'm sure there are some excellent (UK based) videos on You Tube as well. 
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,511
    This is my rotation method as an example, if this helps:

    6-bed rotation with groups of compatible/related plants together with annual companion flowers [that help that particular crop by producing beneficial compounds or deterring pests] wherever I can stuff them in. I follow heavy feeders with light feeders the next year. The beds that had the light feeders then get enriched with some composted manure or homemade compost at the end of the growing season, ready for the heavy feeders the following year.

    Bed 1: Beets and Brassicas (lightish feeders)
    Spicy greens salad leaves - mustard, mizuna etc.

    Bed 2: Curcurbits and Corn (heavy feeders)
    Early catch crop - Lettuce
    Sweetcorn in a block in front of the curcurbits to provide shade
    French beans

    Bed 3: Legumes (light feeders)
    Broad Beans
    Sugar snap peas
    Autumn catch crop - Spinach

    Bed 4: Solanaceae (heavy feeders)
    Salad Potatoes

    - I don’t grow many of the traditional brassicas, sometimes kale, but this is where I would grow cabbage, broccoli etc., after the salad potatoes (I don’t grow maincrop spuds either). 

    Bed 5: Alliums (light feeders)
    Garlic, once finished, leeks transplanted from the seed bed
    Lettuce leaves
    Spring Onions
    Baby carrots surrounded by the alliums

    Bed 6: Solanaceae (heavy feeders)
    Early catch crop - Spinach

    Main combinations I always avoid planting in the same bed, because one group of plants inhibits the growth of the other:
    Alliums and Legumes
    Brassicas (inc brassica leaves and radish) and Lettuce/Spinach
    Curcubits and Potatoes
    Potatoes and Tomatoes

    As I mentioned earlier, no plan is perfect, nothing ever ‘complies’ completely, depending on what you like to grow to eat. In my case too many Solanaceae, because I grow potatoes, outdoor tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. I keep the potatoes and the toms/peppers/aubergine group two beds apart so there is a two year break before growing Solanaceae in the same bed.

    Good luck and happy growing in 2020!
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
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