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Building The Raised Beds

Well, what’s happened to the weather? Normally we sit indoors watching the rain pour down as the rest of the country basks in the sun. Not this week! As I mentioned in my last entry, I’ve had a rotten chest cold which seems to be lingering on and on, but I’ve still got a few things done outdoors.

Raised Beds

I’m building raised beds as the only practical way to cope with our stony soil. On an allotment where the nature of things is that they are temporary, I’d suggest second hand scaffold boards if you can get them. To get a decent life from them, you’ll need to treat them with some preservative or they can rot through in three years or so as they’re in contact with the ground.

Having failed to source any locally, I thought about new boards which would cost about £18.00 for 14 feet boards but they’d still need treating to last a reasonable time. In the end I opted for a local fencing specialist who supply tanalised (treated) timber. Now, before I get comments about tanalised timber being poisonous and polluting and the organic Taliban put a price on my head, it’s treated with Tanalith E.

I quote from the suppliers “TANALISED E pressure treated timber is suitable for the construction of compost bins and for use as earth retaining structures for organic vegetable beds. The Soil Association states that if the timber used for organic vegetable beds is preservative pre-treated then there are no issues in terms of organic status.

The big benefit is that I can expect a life of at least 15 years and probably 20 years using this. If they need replacing when I’m nearing 80, well I may still be going! I’m using inch thick board, 7” in width by two deep, which will give me a depth of 14” In the corners I’m using 3”x3” square fence posts with 40 x 40mm pegs on the outside. All screwed together.

The beds will be standard 10′ x 4′ (3M x 1.2M). However, knowing how adding compost and mulches will eventually increase the depth of soil, I’m leaving the corner posts and pegs proud so that I can add another 7” board in the future.

Total wood required for the 6 beds was:

  • 24 off 3M (10′) Boards – for the long sides, 4 per bed
  • 8 off 3.6M (12′) Boards – for the ends, each cuts into 3 1.2M (4′) length
  • 6 off 2.4M (8′) Posts – for the corners, each cuts into 4 600mm (2′) length
  • 36 off 600mm Pegs – 2 for each long side, 1 for each end which makes 6 per bed

The total cost of the wood was just under £300, which isn’t as bad as it might seem when you spread it over 20 years. £2.50 per bed, per year. Besides, as you get older, raised beds are easier to grow in. You don’t have bend so far for starters.

My neighbour kindly stepped in with his large trailer to collect it from the wood yard. I really don’t know what we’d do without them. So on Friday we have it all at hand ready to start. I’ll need to cut the long pieces to size and soak them in preservative to seal the ends and then we’re ready to start building the beds.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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