Vegmonkey and the Mrs.

Vegetable growing in a very small space in Cheltenham

How to build raised beds…by popular demand! February 11, 2008

Filed under: growing — vegmonkey @ 9:40 pm
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As a lot of people have enquired as to where the raised beds came from, i thought i’d develop that into a post about raised beds, and how to create them. It was quite a long process which we went through, when we first decided to make the beds, and even purchased the house based on the fact we could fit four in. If that’s not dedication to ‘growing your own,’ i don’t know what is!

We started looking at these raised beds but decided they were too expensive for what they were, didn’t look amazingly nice and didn’t look like they’d take the battering we were probably going to give them! We then thought about old railway sleepers like these but were concerned about chemicals such as tannins affecting the veg as we wanted to be completely organic. We finally decided on oak boards which are actually only available within a certain distance of Herefordshire but if you live in Kent you can also buy them.  These were a hundred times better than any scaffold planks we found. Email me and i’ll send you the link.

The cost was quite a lot but i think the initial investment was important as we intend to be in the house for a good few years. The beds were delivered on a large lorry, and took me and my best man (this is 12 days before our wedding!) two days to put together, using a very big drill bit, but a drill that really wasn’t fit for purpose!

The size of the beds are: 1.2m by 2.4m (the area in the middle being slightly smaller). The height is 250mm and the thickness is 60mm. They were very heavy, but untreated, from a sustainable source and organic. The bolts supplied were 4” long.

Once it all got together, it looked nice, but needed something putting in it. For the filling (i’m making this sound like making a sandwich!) we put about five 120 Litre bags of Westland Multipurpose compost in each bed, on top off a layer of cardboard to stop the weeds, and then the cardboard eventually rots down. Mixed in with this we put 2 big 20kg bags of sharp sand to help drainage and dug in some slow release organic fertiliser. The thinking behind this was that garden topsoil, which we could have got free from freecycle would have suited, but the quality wouldn’t have been as good as bagged compost and it would more than likely have been littered with weed seeds…which would have needed weedkiller etc!

After being on the ground for almost a year, the beds have held up very well. They are slightly damp at the moment but are beginning to dry out nicely with all this sun we’ve been having. 

The picture below shows what the beds looked like back in April.

Small beginnings…


7 Responses to “How to build raised beds…by popular demand!”

  1. Meg Says:

    Nice post! We haven’t built raised beds since we are renting at the moment, but when we buy a place that will be one of the first things we do. I like your logic on splurging for the higher-quality, more environmentally friendly wood–that will last nearly forever. Definitely a good investment.

  2. Paul Says:

    Interesting… Like you say expensive but worth it in the long run. Not sure my bank balance would cope with buying 10 of them tho… 😉 I think I’m going to use broken up pallets to start with and then replace them with nicer ones one at a time when money allows.

    Was good to hear what you filled yours with tho, I was starting to wonder where people magic’d soil from to fill them… 😉

  3. They do look great, nice to know how you did them!!

  4. Curtis Says:

    Oak wood would make for some great beds. They should last you a long while. I love Oak tree’s they take a long time to grow but are well worth it.

  5. Big Al Says:

    Mine are 6″x2″ with a bit of decking round the top to sit on.

  6. Ingrid Says:

    Dear vegmonkey,

    I am in the process of planning a vegetable garden using the raised bed system. Could you let me know where your oak boards came from? I’ve made a plan but am stuck as to where I will get my boards from and I don’t want to pay a fortune! I tried the links but was unsuccessful, and also the measurements I require are not standard. Would they supply the boards to the sizes I need? I live just north of Burford in Oxfordshire, so not too far from you. I’d appreciate any advise you may be able to offer. Many thanks, Ingrid from Ascott-u-Wychwood

  7. vegmonkey Says:

    Hi Ingrid,

    The boards were purchased off ebay, they were £55 each for the standard size you see. I think that is the only size they produce, but you could get in touch with them. I found them by putting ‘raised beds’ into ebay. If that doesn’t work, try putting ‘new oak raised bed kit’ into ebay. They delivered really promptly too and were really easy to deal with. Make sure you tell them where you saw them if you do buy from them, i won’t get anything but it would be nice if they came and saw how their product was being used.

    Really like your house by the way, i’ve added you to favourites incase we need somewhere to get away too for the weekend anytime soon!

    Good luck with the veg!

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