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Raised Beds
Sat 16-Jan-10
6:32 pm
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chocolatevole

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Sat 16-Jan-10
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Having sworn that when I retired to France, where fruit and vegetables are fresh and excellent quality in the local village markets, that I would no longer grow my own vegetables and land up with a glut of every thing and a very sore back I now find that I miss the pleasure of planning, growing,caring for culling and cooking so have decided that I must have a vegetable garden once more. As I now have two tin hips bending for any length of time is a problem so I think the answer is to have raised beds. Has any one any advice to give me on the best type to have, the best way to prepare them and  what grows best in them.

Some how even the best of bought vegs don't taste quite the same and with a large garden and plenty of time it seems profligate not to use some of both usefully.

Sat 16-Jan-10
7:45 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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I guess the question is are you looking for something that looks pretty or something that is just functional? It also depends on what you have to hand as well, for instance do you have a lot of rocks and stones or not? Welcome by the way! Cheers

Sat 16-Jan-10
8:32 pm
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KateUK
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I filled mine with a load of topsoil dug out when we had an extension built, plus compost from my heaps and manure- they need to be kept well feed to produce every year: made my raised beds ( I also have new hips) from the old brick pallets left by the builders, making frames with lapped wood on the outsides, lined with heavy duty plastic ( the off cuts from under the floor of the new room) so moisture stays in. They are about 4 ft square as that is what fits in the space and knee high. I've grown beans ( runner, borlotti, french, cannelini and flageolet), courgettes, carrots, beetroots, marrows, herbs, onions, garlic, chard, maize ( only a little) and tayberries in the four beds I have currently. Really easy to work on as you can reach the whole bed. Currently planning to use more of the garden i.e. the drive we never bring the car up in front of the garage full of junk we never put the car in for more raised beds. I have also raised my coldframe up on an insulated wooden base so it can become an all year salad bed- would have been good if there had not been caterpillars in there when I closed the lid when it got chilly Doh....the beans are excellent, marrows really take too much space over to give a good enough yield, I tried sugar snap peas, but just didn't have room for enough to make it worthwhile. I also grow Jerusalem artichokes in a very big pot ( the sort trees come in) and they do really well, stops them taking over the garden too.

Kateuk makes things at http://www.etsy.com/shop/finkstuff and sometimes she does this too http://www54paintings.blogspot.com/ and also this http://finkstuff.weebly.com/

Sat 16-Jan-10
9:07 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Welcome, chocolatevole, and thank you very much for joining in.

Joanna, I would add to your "what you have to hand" theme - if you have an old table or some sort of raised platform, then you can grow in grow-bags or tubs or planting bags, all at a comfortable level.

Kate - I have never seen raised beds to knee height. That seems like a brilliant idea. It may take more timber than an ankle-height variation but the comfortable access must be very worthwhile.

Never knowingly underfed

Sat 16-Jan-10
10:24 pm
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danast
Argyll, Scotland

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Thanks Kate -StarStarStarWellDone lots of info in your post.  I am having three raised beds made 3 x 1 metres.  I have metre square ones already and lots of bags and containers, but I am hoping to do much much more this season.  Oh I can't wait to get started.  I think I could plant some seeds quite soon in my polytunnel.  I never had an interest in growing things till about three or four years ago, so I still have much to learn.StarBig_Hug

Old teachers never die, they just lose their class

Sat 16-Jan-10
10:33 pm
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SOL
UK

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we have a raised bed in the back garden and it grows like the clappers.  We had 122 garlic bulbs.  Which grew really well.  And we seemed to have great success with legumes in their as well.  Compare to where I turned over a flower bed to the same crop the year before

Sun 17-Jan-10
12:42 pm
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chocolatevole

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Thanks Kate lot's of very useful info here I think I will get the beds made from wood I shall ask around for off cuts and take your advice and make them about 4ft square  and knee high ,tin hips do restrict bending a bit or at least they ought to.  Do you rotate the crops as one does normally or just add to the soil as appropriate ? You certainly grow a large variety of vegs ,I want to try melons as they grow very well here , Charente ,and ripen easily . I'v never tried tayberries are they like blue berries? How do they cope with the heat in the summer? Jersulem Artichokes in pots sound a great idea I shall certainly try that this summer they'll look great on the terrace.

Danny your idea of putting grow bags on a raised platform or table is great I think I'll try doing this with my salad leaves.

Danast How early do you plant your seeds in the poly tunnel and is this on the raised bed?

S.O.L.122 bulbs of garlic !! even here is the land of garlic that is a lot to consume in a year, good for keeping the arthritis at bay though.

SmileThanks to you all for replying Now I shall get going on ordering seeds although here there are big  veg plant sales in the spring as every one seems to have a veg plot for which they buy seedlings rather than raise from seed. There must be a reason for this so I shall have to ask my farming neighbours. Although we have very cold but short winters we also have very hot and long summers so watering is a must , do any of you trickle water?

Sun 17-Jan-10
2:06 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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I wish we had a trickle feed, there has been a few weeks in each of the summers we have been here in Latvia when I have spent my time trudging up and down a hill with buckets from the pond to our garden. Angry

Sun 17-Jan-10
2:12 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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chocolatevole - re watering, Fiona has gradually developed her drip-feed system, buying additional piping etc over the years to help spread the cost. It is extremely effective. She has some watering articles on the blog in this Category

Danuta - Fiona is determined to start everything off earlier than usual this year. It's her first time germinating tomato seeds in her heated propagator in January. Her aim is twofold: to have plants and seedlings to sell in her gateside stand and also to provide us with a longer harvesting season this year. I think home grown tomatoes are one of the great joys of grow-your-own.

Kate - our driveway sounds like yours. Basically, it is waste land that could be put to more productive use, in part at least. We are thinking of siting our grow tubs and bags there. That is also dense planting, which is something we want to pursue this year.

Fiona also bartered some hours of painting and decorating in exchange for discarded lumber such as pine rafters and oak fencing posts. We have not collected them yet but she has in mind raised beds for asparagus. To my mind, that is something of a luxury veg so still negotiable Smile

Never knowingly underfed

Sun 17-Jan-10
9:40 pm
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danast
Argyll, Scotland

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Hi Chovolatevole

I am going through all my seeds tomorrow and will make a plan of planting times.  I really am a novice too, but in my polytunnel I grow in planters and growbags.  Perhaps I should have had it all dug up, but this is the way I chose to go.  It's easier to move things about too.  Also my polytunnel isn't heated.  But I might follow Fiona's lead and plant early.  I could keep some indoors to begin with.  I am retired now, so I do have more time to be organised.  I am looking forward to having the raised beds outdoors.  I ordered my seeds a while ago and now can't remember what all I bought!!!!  I did buy some extra from the Real Seed catalogue last week( thanks Fiona)  so they will be here soon.  I'll let you know when I start planting.  Soaking my sweet peas tomorrow though!  

Old teachers never die, they just lose their class

Sun 17-Jan-10
9:41 pm
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danast
Argyll, Scotland

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Sorry, just noticed as I posted that I spelled your name wronglyEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedBig_Hug

Old teachers never die, they just lose their class

Sun 17-Jan-10
9:54 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Danuta - may I just  say that you look far too young to have reached retirement.

Good for you! Wine Champagne

Never knowingly underfed

Sun 17-Jan-10
10:02 pm
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danast
Argyll, Scotland

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Oh sir you are too kind! Smile  Fortunately you cannot see all the wrinkles in so small a photo. Laugh Laugh Laugh

Old teachers never die, they just lose their class

Sun 17-Jan-10
11:44 pm
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KateUK
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Materials for raised beds can be found on freecycle-if there is one where you live, people are often offering old fence panels/pallets.

 I grow stuff in the raised beds that I couldn't buy in the shops- i.e. interesting varieties or unusual veg. I do rotate things in a half arsed sort of way. A Tay berry is one of the berries made by crossing I think it is Logan berry with blackberry- theya re big and dark and sharp and delicious, the nearest fruit tasting like a mulberry that isn't on a whacking great tree. Being raspberry family they probably prefer a cooler climate.

I also have a bench made from old wood pallet scraps for putting compost bags on so I can reach them without bending.

Yes Danny, the driveway is going to be growbag central this year and I got some huge pots from a skip that will come in handy too...but don't tell my husband...it will be a gradual,top-secret take-over...

Kateuk makes things at http://www.etsy.com/shop/finkstuff and sometimes she does this too http://www54paintings.blogspot.com/ and also this http://finkstuff.weebly.com/

Tue 19-Jan-10
1:02 pm
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devongarden
Devon, UK

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I am raising my raised beds from ankle to knee high this year. I won't be able to raise the soil level (it will be a mixture of compost, well rotted manure, and paper shreddings, mostly, and I won't worry about getting it to full height in one year) in some beds for a while since the brussels sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli are growing well in one bed, and there are still parsnips in another. I am not sure what will happen to the runner beans when I make the bed higher. They overwinter here, at least some of the plants do. They are later than the beans planted out at the end of May, but crop more heavily when they finally do produce beans. If they don't appear this year I won't know if it is because they are buried too deeply or because they got frozen. (Or if the slugs got them again, but beans usually manage to grow even if the slugs chew them to the ground two or three times--must try beer this year as well as organic slug pellets!)

One idea I have seen a couple of places is planting melons or squash on compost heaps. At Barnsdale, Geoff Hamilton's garden, they have what is effectively a raised bed with compost in it like a Victorian hot bed that could be used to grow crops that otherwise won't ripen in Britain. At Great Dixter, Christopher Lloyd's garden, they had huge compost heaps and had squashes or pumpkins of various sorts growing on top. But they were in full sun, and I don't really want to put my compost heaps in the sunniest part of the garden!

I will have 6 raised beds, 3 of them 2 meters/metres by 1m, and the other 3 are 3m by 1m. It seems a lot, but I know they will be planted intensively and I still won't have room for everything I want. I also have slightly raised beds for strawberries, asparagus (hasn't done well, if it doesn't produce enough this year it will be overplanted with something that will appreciate all that time and attention, and if a public threat doesn't work nothing will!) and lots of herbs.

I'm not sure that seed catalogues belong here, but Tuckers is also good, and they have both organic and non-organic seeds.

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