For me, growing in raised beds is my only option as my site is marginal land with poor soil and even worse drainage. In a way I am glad my garden had these issues as it forced me into raised beds from the start and governed the way I grow. It is years now since I started my garden; the soil and drainage problems are long forgotten yet I still enjoy my orderly and easy to maintain beds.
The use of raised beds has had a big impact on my growing because they made me think of the makeup of my soil before the first crop had been sown. In my case I brought in soil so was able to tailor my mixes to the needs of different crops. A third of my beds have a sandy mix which I use for root crops while I have heavier loams for crops like cabbage and Brussels sprouts that like a firmer footing.
My raised beds are the final stage of the composting cycle where soil organisms break down any manure, seaweed or compost I add and eventually transform it into humus rich soil.
Why grow in raised beds?
So, apart from choosing your soil what are the other advantages of growing in a raised bed? Here's my top 5 reasons why I am such a big fan:
They look great
Maybe it is because I am a designer at heart but I love the ordered look of a raised bed garden with everything neat, tidy and easy to manage. The timber is a beautiful contrast against the foliage of the plants and gives an instant structure to the garden.
They are much easier to look after
There is a bit more work required setting up raised beds but this will be repaid many times over in the time saved looking after your garden. You will have less weeding to do as you don't have encroaching weeds from the surrounding soil. The weeding you do have to do is easier thanks to the more comfortable working height and, due to the nice loose soil, is relatively quick.
The soil remains loose and easy to work
Loose, free draining soil is the most productive as there are plenty of air spaces for your soil life to breathe. The organisms in your soil are the guys who ultimately turn your manure or compost into plant food so keeping them happy should be you number one priority.
You never walk on the soil in your raised bed which means it doesn't get compacted by your boots. As well as giving your microbe friends a nice home it also means plant roots have an easy time penetrating the soil and it makes it much easier for you to weed.
They give you a longer growing season
The soil in a raised bed will warm quicker in the Spring which means you will be able to start growing a little earlier. Well drained raised beds allow you to leave crops in the ground for longer without fear of them rotting. This is especially important for growing garlic or overwintering onions which are planted in the Autumn and need very good drainage over Winter.
Pest control is easier
A tidy garden has less pests, particularly when we are talking about slugs. Sharp gravel paths around your raised beds are good for keeping slug populations down as they don't like crossing them. Raised beds are also easy to attach crop protection structures to like our fabulous mini tunnel system featured last week. Mini tunnels can be fixed to the sides of raised beds using hinges giving easy access and a secure fit that won't blow around in strong winds.
Our Raised Bed Range
We stock the widest range of raised beds in the country with a specification and price to suit every garden and budget. We can also make raised beds to custom sizes and are happy to draw up a garden or polytunnel plan. All our beds are made from pressure treated timber to protect against rot and have a range of lifespans from 6 - 10 years depending on the thickness of the timber.