Once we’d planned our vegetable garden, the biggest challenge was plotting and building our raised beds.
We rotivated the land that we’d earmarked for the veg beds, as it was covered with old turf and years of weeds, roots and ivy.
We’d decided on a very informal, unstructured design to aim for a ‘cottage garden’ look, hopefully with the suggestion that the garden had evolved over time!
That said, we needed to get all the beds built in one go, so we spent some time mapping them out in the allocated space by using pallets, canes and string (and the old shed door) so we could get a feel for how the finished result would look and also how practical it would be. We made sure we could push a wheelbarrow between the beds and that none of them were too big to reach into the middle for planting and weeding.
We wanted the beds to be sturdy and rustic looking, we’d made raised beds from cheaper ‘diy store’ timber before but that was never going to have longevity. Fortunately our next door neighbour had built some similar and directed us to a local timber yard that sold relatively inexpensive sleepers, and even cut them all to size for us before we collected them, which was a huge bonus! We made the beds 2 sleepers high as we wanted to ensure that we’d got a good depth for root vegetables to grow.
Richard, my mum’s husband Neil and our new friend Sam from Selwyn Trees spent several days putting the frames of the raised beds together then fixing them into place in the garden using stakes and six inch nails!
The next challenge was to fill the beds with suitable topsoil. Fortunately, when we dug out an area to create the driveway, we were left with several huge piles of soil which was in excellent condition, as it had been left uncultivated for at least 20 years.
It was laborious work to move all the soil and we also had to sift it though a makeshift ‘riddler’ to rid it of roots, weeds and even shards of glass that had accumulated over time, but it was worth the effort and left us with perfect growing conditions! The soil did end up being a bit light once it had been sifted, meaning water tended to puddle on top of the soil, but it was essential that we cleared the debris before it was safe to use.
We ended up with 11 raised beds in total, most of them can be seen in this shot taken from the scaffolding round the house!