Hi, I'm a novice gardener and would love some advice on raised beds - I'd rather buy one than make one but don't mind self-assembly! Overwhelmed by the choice and sizes and where to begin!!
My first thought would be to ask, do you actually meen a raised bed ?
I only ask because in the last few years it seems to have become accepted dogma that veg has to be grown in a raised bed. Even on allotments people are being encouraged to build raised beds when what is meant is a DEEP BED.
There is a good argument to be made for growing in DEEP BEDS. This is where the soil is dug deeply with plenty of organic matter incorporated and then not trod on, the idea being to allow roots to penetrate deeply and easily thus allowing closer spacing between crops and hence more produce. These beds are usually no wider than 4 foot so that they can be reached from either side without the need to walk on them. It is not essential, but they are often edged with wooden boards to keep them tidy and I think that this is where people get confused with RAISED BEDS which are planting beds usually high enough to allow access without too much bending or from a wheelchair, or for ornamental purposes.
If you wish to edge a deep bed, I would recommend contacting a local timber merchant (a proper one, not a DIY store ) and asking for the price of some 1inch by 6inch treated gravel boards. Most merchants can cut them to length for you so they can be whatever size you require rather than what the manufacturers make. They should also be able to supply some stakes (2 inch x 2inch) for the corners and to support long sides. This invariably works out much better value than the ready made ones and is quite sufficient for veg growing.
Hope this makes sense and helps.
Hi Tootsietim, thanks for taking the time to reply. I thought of a raised bed because the area of the garden I want to use unfortunately has rubble underneath turf - only discovered recently! I thought I could perhaps use weed suppressant material, put new soil into a frame and grow something, or is this a daft idea?
That is fair enough, if you cant remove the rubble to make the soil usable then a raised bed seems a good alternative. Not being one to buy things ready made I can't recommend a supplier, but only advise that whatever you choose is not too wide so that you can reach the centre from each side and is made of decent thick treated timber. I know that some people dislike using treated timber with veg, but the investment is not inconsiderable so anything to prolong the life of the bed is probably a good thing.
Do research the cost of not only the bed but the soil with which you fill it as this can be expensive, and consider the effort involved in moving it.
(If I were to build a raised bed I would be using treated timber 2inch by 8 or 9inch for the sides, doubled up to give a depth of 16 to 18 inches and then support the corners with 3inch posts. Again this could be obtained from a timber yard and many would be able to cut to length and pressure treat for you.)
I had the same problm as you, Bridget, so went scouting for ready-made raised beds, and was shocked at the prices
Two 6ft x 4ft beds would have cost well in excess of £100.
So I built two beds myself. Sure they're not perfect, and it was a bit fiddly to do, but they cost £30.
I know you say you want ready made, but do consider a diy job. Visit your local scaffolding company, as they often have olds boards, which due to H&S they unable to use anymore, and generally only to glad to sell for a small fee. I pay £5 each for mine. Get a friend to cut them to your size, then purchase what is now called "creosote", paint both sides a couple of time, ause then use nails or large screws to fit to the 4 corners together. Time once you have the boards at home is around two frays, plus satisfaction of making it yourself, rather than an excessive price from one of the many advertised companies.
I use this around my veg area, only because over the years, the soil level has raised considerably, due to used soil etc, from many hanging baskets, and repotting many many large potted plants.
Personally I use raised beds as they are easier to tend, you can keep conditions in the medium more easily, you can stop pests and weeds invading more easily, and the most important of all, they heat up lots quicker, something deep dug beds miss out on. Oh, and also it means you can add a cloche, or stakes for making a very strong pea/bean support. I personally use scaffold boards. I find that by digging down another 4/5 inches, then adding organic matter and the sifted soil, I can grow roots (parsnips, carrots) no problem. My soil is heavy clay with about a third of the soil being pebbles, so it just doesn't drain. My solution was to use raised beds and dig down a bit inside. Touchwood, very happy with the results. Yes a lot of effort to create, but prob will last 5 or 6 years. If you line the inside of the walls of the bed with polyethene maybe last a bit longer.