Key ingredients (for a 5m x 1m bed):
- 6 x sturdy posts (cut to approx. 1m) – take a saw and create a point at the end of each to make it easier to hammer them into the ground
- Lengths of wood – cut to approx 2.5m and 1m
- 1 x large heavy duty hammer/mallet
- Normal hammer
- Thick nails
- 2-3 helpers (ideally including one strong person)
- Sunshine, temperatures +1C
- Good company – boyfriend, family, friends, fellow allotmenteers
- Ground conditions that are not frozen or muddy (although I’ve made raised beds in both and they’ve turned out ok)
- Allow 2 hours
Using raised beds to grow your fruit, vegetables and flowers is the way forward. Here are what I see as the key benefits:
- It makes it easy to follow a crop rotation system (especially if you have four beds)
- You don’t step on the soil so it stays light and easy to weed
- It allows you to concentrate your time and effort on those key raised areas (helpful if you have a big plot which may otherwise seem daunting/unwieldy)
- If you build your raised beds with high sides it can deter certain pests, such as carrot fly
- Stops you from getting a sore back
- Looks neat and tidy
After all the snow and ice we’ve had lately, I was eager to get up to the allotment yesterday to build the much discussed and long awaited raised bed no.5. It will be used exclusively for cut flowers this spring / summer and will sit alongside my four other beds which I use for growing vegetables.
Here’s my top tips for how to make a raised bed from scratch:
Step 1: make sure you have all the necessary equipment (outlined above). There’s nothing more frustrating than being ready to build and then realising you’ve forgotten your hammer.
Step 2: take some canes and stick them in the ground to mark out the perimeter of your raised bed – take a piece of string and tie round each cane. This will help ensure you have straight lines. Position your corner posts beside each cane and dig a trench approximately 1 to 2 inches deep from post to post along the marked edges.
Step 3: using the big hammer/mallet, hammer post 1 into the ground. Align the second post using the string and hammer in. Take a 2.5m length of wood and hammer into your posts with a long nail to ensure alignments. Progress to the third post, hammer in, and replicate with 2.5m length and nails.
Step 4: do the other side in exactly the same way (make sure your two top posts and two bottom posts also form a straight line. Hammer in your 1m lengths to complete each end.
Step 5: you should now have a raised bed. Now all you need to do is fill it with compost and you are ready to go!