Having given up for the day on digging the garden plot it was over to the vegetable plot to start setting up some raised beds.
Digging down the first problem is getting through the matted turf. It’s just springy enough to make getting the spade in hard. I did have a bit of a brainwave though! We’ve got a half-moon lawn edger and this seemed to make it easier to cut into the turf. Then I could get the spade in and lift a strip off.
Below the turf the soil is very stony, they’re about the size of a large egg up to about the size of a small loaf of bread. Once again getting the spade in is difficult but I could get the fork in.
So turnover with the fork, fishing out stones as I go was the order of the day. The soil itself isn’t too bad, although lacking in organic matter. This is old pasture and hasn’t been cultivated for many years.
Now I’m fortunate in that I’ve got some ready made raised bed kits, so these are the obvious choice to get started with. The first one to go in was from TwoWests, it’s an earlier version of this model. Mine is about 3 feet long by 18″ wide and has a cold frame that can be fixed to it. That’s useful not just for cold but for wind protection here.
I stripped the turf, forked over and then shovelled the loose soil into the wheelbarrow. I then levelled it up before placing the bed in position. The turf went in, grass side down before putting about half the soil back in along with some lime to counteract the acidity of the soil.
Next I put a bag of multi-purpose compost in. Normally I would only suggest buying good quality commercial potting compost. Saving a pound or two can be a false economy but this was cheap stuff from the Focus closing down sale. It’s pretty rough but at £2.40 for a large bag what do you expect? Anyway, it’s fine mixed with soil as an improver. My own compost is yet to come on stream.
The next bed to go in was from Everedge. It’s made of coated galvanised steel, so quite a weight. The top edge is rolled so not sharp, which is important. To join the sides together they provide steel pins. These also serve to anchor it into position.
Once again the soil preparation was what took the time. I’ve seen people just place raised beds onto the ground but it really is worth the time digging below. A bed will be in position for many years, so spending some time doing it right is a good investment.
It’s obvious to me that I’m not going to be able to grow some crops like carrots and parsnips directly in this soil. Well not ones longer than 6″ anyway. Luckily I brought my carrot growing barrels with me from Crewe so they’ll be getting used. I think I’ll be moving onto raised beds here for the main plot although I’ve never been a huge fan of them.