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Hints needed for renovating a raised bed

Ferdinand2000Ferdinand2000 Posts: 376
edited 30 August in Fruit & veg
I have a 3.6m x 1.2m (12 x 4 ft) divided 2/3 to 1/3 raised bed that seems ready for a bit of restoration. I built it in 2013 for my mum using 25mm planks. It is about 1/3 of my raised bed area. It runs N/S and gets a reasonable amount of sun. The ground underneath is fairly 'orrible; it is where the old garage used to be before my preceding owner turned the bungalow into a house.

Currently it is mainly strawberries with a few other things dotted around - we believe in industrial quantities of strawberries. It has been fed occasionally, but not I think topped up with soil.

Here is a sketch plan of the current layout, with a few piccies and my current ideas at the bottom.

All guidance, comments and suggestions would be most welcome - I have not done this before.

(Apologies that the plan is sideways, and for the long post - I did not want to miss anything out).

My thoughts:

- The plan is to use the area for mainly veg, and removed the strawberries - which I think are at the end of their life after 6 years. Then I would like to have strawberries in a couple of runs of gutter supported from the ends. Can I recover any of the existing strawberries?
- I may reinforce the frame with some stouter planks. It is designed to allow that.
- The dalek composter will be going, as a traditional compost bin is better and will be elsewhere.
- I also need to train and support appropriately the Winter Jasmine, redcurrant and gooseberry. Is there any problem training a gooseberry over the arch?
- There will be a drip irrigation system, including for the strawberries.
- Why would some of these strawberries be in pots next to others in the ground?

 Thanks very much.

“Rivers know this ... we will get there in the end.”


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,156
    So which way does it face - east or west? That's the important thing. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Ferdinand2000Ferdinand2000 Posts: 376
    edited 30 August
    Fairygirl said:
    So which way does it face - east or west? That's the important thing. 
    On the plan as it appears in the post, North (ie the shed end) is at the top and the garden wall in the piccies is on the East Side. My structures (arch, support fence) are on the E and N sides of the bed to avoid blocking out any of what sun it gets.

    The West is open to the garden so gets some sun, and the house is approx 8-10m away on the S-side, but it is a high gable.

    There are small-medium size trees on the other side of the garden wall on the East side.

    So I would call it West facing, mainly - with a smidgeon of South.
    “Rivers know this ... we will get there in the end.”
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,156
    Very confusing - just as well I don't go hillwalking with you!
    I'm assuming west [for that jasmine bed]  if the shed [where is it on the plan?] is at the top of the plan and that's north.  
    Always put north clearly on a plan   ;)
    I'm afraid the photos are too jumbled  to make sense of easily. This bed you want to plant jasmine in isn't very big, so there's not going to be much room for anything else in there. 
    Don't know about gooseberries I'm afraid, but I can't see them getting big enough for an arch. 
    Strawberries that age aren't worth keeping - too much outlay for too little reward. Peg down some runners, and pot them up. They will grow on for next year. Bin all the others - good for compost . Some might be in pots simply because there isn't anywhere else, or they might have been runners removed before.
    If you want to grow other veg, there's no point keeping loads of unproductive strawbs. If there are some which have had a reasonable crop this year, you could keep a small number of those for next year, and take more runners again then. That means in a few years, you've refreshed the whole stock. They're best redone every three years or so.  :)
    Much easier to clear everything out and start afresh.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Ferdinand2000Ferdinand2000 Posts: 376
    edited 30 August
    Thanks for the response. Here is the plan with a North arrow.

    North is at the top in the post. It is just that the writing is sideways  :#o:)   (*)

    And this is a more general photo facing North, taken from the middle of the next bed along.

    The Winter Jasmine is already there - numbat 1 on the sketch - and probably needs training up the arch so it will be facing West.


    * I need a “butter wouldn’t melt” EMOJI.
    “Rivers know this ... we will get there in the end.”
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,156
    If that was mine - I'd just clear everything and start again.  o:)
    Good paths put in, and tidy raised beds which are easy to fill and tend. There's a lot of 'stuff' against that wall, taking up space.
    I think it's worth considering using that 'jasmine' bed for peas or beans, if you like those, unless you're dead set on an ornamental. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Ferdinand2000Ferdinand2000 Posts: 376
    edited 30 August
    The wall is difficult. It is Victorian.

    The boundary is the face my side of it and it belongs to next door. The pile of stones you can just see is a partial collapse of a couple metres of N's wall on my side, and it is a tricky one to tackle as the other side stayed standing.

    The repair will be £500+ if done properly, and really the entire thing needs rebuilding - which is 14m at at least £250 per metre.

    “Rivers know this ... we will get there in the end.”
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 6,010
    I recommend you do what Fairygirl suggests - take everything out, tidy it all up, get rid of all the trip hazards and make some decent paths. I'd also shift that arch which looks odd, ideally it should straddle a path if it's wide enough. Also get rid of the winter jasmine entirely, it gets to be a monster and will keep rooting into your new veg bed.
    If the wall is a double one and one half is still standing, could you have a go yourself at rebuilding the bit which has fallen into your garden?  Frankly it's your neighbour's problem, their house insurance should cover them for a boundary wall, have you asked them to do something about it?
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,156
    edited 31 August
    I wouldn't have the arch either if I'm honest @Lizzie27, or the jasmine.
    I think you need to decide what the most important factors are @Ferdinand2000 . If it's too expensive to re do the wall properly, you'll just have to tidy it up as best you can and concentrate on the plot. 
    From what I could tell from the drawing, there only is one bed, so it would be easier to have several, laid out in a fairly traditional pattern, which could be used for veg in rotation, as is the norm. Pots are far more work, so it's easier to keep those if you grow anything that really becomes invasive - mint for example. You can also grow some ornamental among the veg if you wish- that's also a normal practice. 
    Many plants need less sun too, so it would just be a case of working out which ones those are and going with that. Many salad crops are better with a little bit more shade.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 1,872
    I agree with the others. Clear the bed entirely: the strawberries, the jasmine, the compost bin, the arch ... everything, and then tidy up the mess all around. I would get rid of all the surrounding weeds, the ugly pots, the random trip hazard poles, canes and lumps of stone and concrete. The concrete slabs could do with relaying and certainly jet washing.

    Now, with a clean canvas in front of you, it is time to take stock again. I might consider staining the shed and would also want to bring order to that collection of poles of random height that mark the corners. The arch looks weird: they function best when separating one part of the garden from another. Can you relocate it somewhere more suitable? And can you block off those grey dustbins which draw the eye and look pretty awful? I would also replenish the soil in the raised beds.

    Sorry for such a harsh and blunt assessment but, when you are used to something, you can be much more tolerant of a situation compared to others seeing it for the first time.
  • Ferdinand2000Ferdinand2000 Posts: 376
    edited 31 August
    Thanks all.

    I prefer blunt assessments - in my first career of electronic design it is Negative Feedback that stabilises, and Positive Feedback that destabilises.

    The arch is actually there as a cosmetic block (once it had the climber on it) for something beyond the wall when viewed from the main part of the garden where I can sit out. I wonder if the way is actually to put another one across the end, or replace with something higher quality. And the shed *is* stained :smile: .

    The poles are of different heights because I cut the first one off before I thought "Hmm. May want to attach something to these later", and left the rest. The way it is built I could just put a layer of half-rounds or scaffold boards on the outside with a protective membrane down the inside, as planned for when it was built in 2014.

    I tend to use round rather than square posts and half round timber as I can get them for almost nothing from the ag. merchant (eg about £1.50 for a tanalised 1.6m tree stake which is £7.50 at Wickes, 3.6m 4" half rounds for about £6 - mine may be ex-VAT), and I like the aesthetic. Put a Postsaver on, knock it in with the rammer, and it will happily last 10-15 years if needed. And I'm not really an Acacia Avenue kind of guy.

    My feeling is certainly to remove most of it and tidy, though perhaps leaving the gooseberries and redcurrant. Then add a few inches more compost and use for veggies.

    I have another raised bed about the same size (which is mainly given over to mint and bamboo - my mum's doing as she became less mobile) and definitely needs clearing out. And an 8' x 8' smaller one, which is currently set up for beans and peas using sheep netting. It still needs a bit more work, but is about to get some late veggies in it.

    Will see if I can do something with that wall. 

    “Rivers know this ... we will get there in the end.”
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