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Raised beds

Should I leave a raised bed fallow, say every 4years? How do I maintain the health of the raised bed when its difficault to do crop rotation, as there are always small plants at the front and larger ones behind (facing the sun).


  • nick615nick615 Posts: 646
    I'd politely suggest you consider why you need raised beds.  So many folk think they're the fashion, but orthodox cultivation of a plot avoids such issues.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 4,531
    Crop rotation is advised every 3 years, I have had raised beds for 40 years, nothing to do with fashion, sometimes because of soil types, if you have stony or rubbish soil, you might want a bed of different soil becoming underwater, keeping soil can section a bed,so you can rotate.You mentioned short plants at the front tall at the back, are we talking veg here? Most will want a lot of sun.I have a weekly garden mag, which says in a small area, you can take a chance and mix plant.I try very hard not to leave a plot empty
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen SpainPosts: 4,300
    Hello and welcome to the forum!

    Crop rotation is essential because different vegetables take different things from the soil and attract different pests, but I agree it’s tricky if you only have one bed. If you divide it into, say three, separate growing areas, rotation is still possible. The back of the bed can not only be used to rotate taller crops like climbing beans/peas with sweetcorn, but can also offer protection to those that appreciate a bit of shade. I think it just requires a bit of creative thought - make a list of all the veg groups you grow and their sun requirements and make a plan. Even of this means you only ever rotate the same two crops in one section, that is better than nothing. Providing different soil requirements in one bed is also tricky, but you can just add manure over winter to the section that will have a crop the following season that needs a richer soil, e.g. potatoes.

    If you need help getting your head around all of the above, please feel free to list what you like to grow there and we can pitch in and help with the head scratching 😊 

    Plenty of valid reasons for raised beds, convenience or lack of space in a small urban garden, lack of decent soil depth, areas that are subject to flooding, even just aesthetics. Fashion has nothing to do with why I have raised beds, so please don’t leap in judgement @nick615!
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 8,278
    If there are mobility or health issues, raised beds can be a lifesaver. Many of us feel they are easier to manage.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 4,531
    Your points are same as mine Noli
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 646
    Nollie and Nanny Beach I will never try to tell someone else what they should do, hence I used 'politely'.  As NB will confirm, 'Sussex won't be druv'.  I, too, was around when RBs were heralded as a boon to wheelchair users, but I notice regular 'newbie' posts that begin with them having RBs and a tunnel as if, to be a gardener, you've got to have them.  Hence I use the word 'fashion' in the same way that it's now impossible to go for a simple bike ride without a full set of lycra.  I share the view for others to consider, on the basis that the Percy Throwers of yesteryear seemed to get along quite nicely without either item.
  • stephentamestephentame Southwest EnglandPosts: 126
    I've been gardening in lycra for 50 years, man and boy (sorry - couldn't resist!) ;)

    ....Something to consider, to give you more flexibility, is that some veg, lettuce for example, may do as well if not better if shaded. Also consider keeping the bed growing over winter, either with winter veg or/and green manure.
    I give a nod to rotation, but mainly things go in where there's space to put them - rotation is good, and being relaxed about it is also good.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 4,531
    Well I now need to See you gardening in the lycra.why is it do many of them don't feel the need to wear a helmet as well,I knash my teeth when I see motorcycles ridden by people in shorts, seriously,go work on plastics, people without skin look truly revolting
  • pwmws14pwmws14 Posts: 2
    Many thanks everyone. It's seams your saying no, to leaving it fallow. With the raised bed mucked over winter. Ready for the next year. 
  • @pwmws14 : I treat each of my raised beds to a 'hefty' topdress of homemade [largely leafy] compost, generally in the early spring (winter rains thus avoided). Forked in it 'leavens' the pre-existing soil ahead of the 'planting out' phases that the various plots go though. *The worms etc do most of the work of incorporation - even overnight, weekends AND Bank holidays too! Good luck with your gardening in 2021!
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