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How to fill a raised bed


I was looking for some advice on how to fill a raised bed please.  I have had my allotment since February and worked the top half of it this year.  Since it had been unused for a few years, it is full of weeds and no matter how much I weed it they come back thick and fast.

I am currently working the bottom half and am in the process of making some raised beds in the hope of eradicating the weeds in that section next year.  I have just finished the second bed and have paved around using reclaimed slabs.

I want to fill these with some sort of mix which will include horse manure so that they have a few months for the worms to do their work with the intention of having a weed free, nutrient rich bed to work with next spring.

I have lined the interior of the first bed with weed suppressant and intend to fill it with something before the winter kicks in.  Since I don't think the worms will get through the suppressant, can I/should I buy worms to put in the beds?

I had initially thought of buying some topsoil but wondered if anyone had any better ideas?

I have considered digging a deep hole in another part of the allotment and taking soil from a couple of feet down (with the hope that it would not be full of seeds and weeds).  Is this a good idea or will it be lacking nutrients?

Does anyone have any tips for a good standard mix (as cheap as possible too!). I don't know what I will be growing in the beds yet but intend to build about 10 of them over the next month.

Any tips would be very gratefully received.  I have pasted some photos below.  

Many thanks






  • Those raised beds look great

    Im interested in replies too!

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 11,312

    I've just made some raised beds.

    I needed about 2ft of something to plant my veg in, so I got a lot of good topsoil and a lot of well composted horse manure.

    I started with about 18" of topsoil then put about 6" horse manure on top and mixed it in lightly. The worms will do most of the work over winter.

    Despite your weed membrane, there's no need to add worms if you add some manure/compost.
    They will appear in no time.

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • I inherited a neglected allotment and decided that raised beds was the way to go. The soil is clay with plenty of large pebbles as it was a river bed back in the day.

    Perennial weeds were dug out where the first beds were planned. Black plastic covered the next section and I sprayed with glysophate to reduce bindweed in the next section. Any further was ignored!

    I double dug each bed before adding the fourth side, , hand weeding and removing every shard of glass as well(who wants that worry when hand weeding?). The pebbles were saved for decorative use.

    I filled my 15cm high beds with a mixture of spent compost from summer bedding displays, soil mined from spoil heaps at the ends of the plot , leaf mould and compost from the garden bins and - in time - the allotment compost heap. Note: I only made 4 new beds each year. It takes a huge amount of soil to raise the level.

    I sowed seeds immediately - and weeded daily to keep the perennials at bay. I grew crops really tightly and they thrived as the soil was healthy. As I had more space I allowed them more space and could grow slower maturing vegetables. Finally I planted a strawberry bed and perennials like currants and rhubarb.

    Seven years on I cultivate 16 raised beds, each 4  x 6 ft. It's fascinating to observe how much the soil  drops each season through natural compaction. I add manure, compost, leaf mould or spent compost on a rotation - not very organised but I have a list of what went where each season and know what's going to be grown the next season. So each bed has its own recipe and is tweaked if it's looking sad.

    Finally, if there's no crop during the winter ( about half will be fallow) the bed is covered with black plastic or similar. This protects the surface , reduces weed growth and allows really early sowing if the spring is kind.

    No doubt others have their own approach. If  it works, do it again. If it doesn't, try something new but make notes and take time to observe.

    Last edited: 18 October 2016 00:32:00

  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,949

    I actually went to a friendly builders merchants and they let me choose which bag of top soil (one ton) I wanted. Fortunately I struck lucky but it was a cost effective way to fill the beds which I could them add well rotted (free) manure to help boost production.

  • I have 14 raised beds at my allotment and I use the 'back to eden' method (google it or see video on YouTube). 

    The method works and it's so easy. Layering the beds with cardboard, manure, compost, wood chippings etc. No more weeding, watering or digging! 

    Happy gardening :) 

  • LeifUKLeifUK Posts: 573

    I converted the bottom of my garden into veggie beds. The area was infested with bramble, field bind weed and other nasties having been neglected for 45 years. I dug out the perennials as best I could. Then I put down a few inches of compost. Bindweed and bramble appeared and were pulled out. Last year I built some 4" high frames and filled with compost. Some weeds appeared and were pulled out. I put down more compost this year, and very few weeds appeared.

    Basically, apply a layer of compost and that will suppress annual weeds, pick out perennials each year as soon as they appear, and you will crack it. Don't dig, except to remove perennials at the start, as digging brings buried seeds to the surface. And you don't need to dig anyway.

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