20 January 2009

Raised beds (be VERY careful!)

Carol at May Dreams Gardens has written a great post on the subject of raised beds. I commented there briefly about my experience, but thought it might be worth blogging about it here, with some pictures to record what happened with mine (as a cautionary tale, too, perhaps).

We had a small easterly-facing back garden in Manchester (about 100 square metres/yards) which was really just a square of lawn with some shrubs around the edges and a small patio area. In 2005 (inspired by two allotment-owning co-workers) I decided to put a raised bed in the lawn near to the house as my first foray into vegetable-growing.

The frame was made from three eight-foot lengths of pressure-treated decking, screwed to four posts (the posts ended up shorter than they were in this picture). On 16 January 2005 I dug the grass up, put in the frame, added a big bag of compost, put the grass back in (upside down) and covered the whole thing with some heavy black plastic, weighted down, to stop weeds and to kill the grass. At the end of all that the bed looked like this:

Two months later, the covers were off and I was sowing my first vegetables. By the end of May the bed was looking full of green life and I was fully addicted to the process of growing food.

On New Year's Day 2006 the second raised bed was constructed.

This was not followed by a third bed in 2007 - because by then we were busily planning our move to Canada and weren't going to be in that house to gather in the harvest. I still couldn't resist planting seeds in the beds that year, though (more proof of my addiction). And yes, part of the motivation for our emigration was the chance of getting hold of a decent-sized plot of land for growing food without bankrupting ourselves.

As soon as we saw the new house in April, the potential of the barnyard as a vegetable plot became obvious and this blog records the progress we've made since we moved in here in June 2007. With ten large vegetable plots already established and plans for another one of those and three raised beds in the greenhouse this year, I find it a bit amazing that it was only four years ago that I started all this by digging out one little raised bed.

So, a warning might be in order. If your spouse suggests putting in a raised bed this year ("Just one dear, and it won't take up much space."), there is a danger that you might find yourself leaving your country a few years later to satisfy their insatiable hunger for more land for their crops. Be warned!!

1 comment:

Dave said...

Hmm, very true! I'll keep adding them until I can't.