Raised Deep Bed Gardening Pt 2 -
How to Construct
Raised Deep Beds
Raised Beds From Harrod Horticultural
These attractive raised beds are designed for easy assembly and have
a selection of crop protection hoops etc available.
They are made from sustainable treated Swedish redwood and come in a
range of sizes and options.
They also offer an inexpensive standard range.
More Information Harrod Horticultural
Size of Raised Deep Bed and Paths
The main point of deep beds is that you never tread on them and compact the
soil so it is important that you can easily reach into the centre from the
side of the bed. The best width will be around 1.2M (4 feet) to allow that.
If the bed is too long, then getting to the other side will involve a long
walk and you will be tempted to step over the bed so about 3M (10 feet) long
is considered maximum length..
The main paths will need to be between 60cm (2 feet) and 75cm (2'6")
to allow easy access with a wheel barrow with the secondary paths around 45cm
(18") wide to allow walking and kneeling as you lean over the bed.
Constructing the Raised Bed
First plan out where the beds are going and use some line to mark out. Don't
be tempted to squeeze the paths, you will regret it. Better to have a narrow
bed because you will not be able to get to the bed with too narrow a path.
Having marked out and checked you are happy with the layout you can produce
a cutting list for the wood for the sides. One good source can be second hand
scaffolding planks if they are in reasonable condition. Do not use wood that
is too thin, like floorboards, because it will rot and be too flimsy.
225mm x 38mm (8.8" x 1.5" approx) boards are near perfect. Fix to
stout internal corner posts, fence posts can be ideal, with non-rusting screws.
Because the wood is in touch with the ground it will be prone to rot so paint
with a preservative like Cuprinol, soak the corner posts, for a long life.
The corner posts can be sunk a few inches into the ground to improve stability.
One good idea is to have a finial decorative ball fixed on the top of the
corners, like they use for the main posts on stairs. Not only do they look
really well but they help when you pull a hosepipe through to a bed, stopping
it from dragging across the plants.
Now, and this is important, before you put the wooden frame into position
you need to double dig the bed removing and perennial weed roots and incorporating
lots of organic matter like compost or manure into the base of the trench.
Break the soil up well as you do this.
Now position an level the base using a spirit level. Allow the soil to settle
for a few days and then incorporate compost into the top bringing the soil
level up to about an inch or 25mm below the top of the boards.
Your raised deep bed is now ready to plant.
Paths Between the Raised Beds.
Once the beds are in place it is time to complete the paths between them.
Level them out and compact them if loose. A shuffle walk up and down can do
this. The easiest thing to do is to buy some porous weed suppressant fabric
material. Cut to size and lay over the paths and then cover with bark or wood
I have seen paths made from concrete slaps, if you use these check the sizing
accurately when you position the beds and save yourself a lot of work later.
Other materials you can use are gravel and even block paving bricks.
My Own Feelings on Raised Beds on an Allotment.
Growing as I do on heavy clay, I think raised beds offer a great way to grow
but the expense in both time and money is considerable. Also I don't think
they are ideal for crops like potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and sweetcorn.
Neither do I think they offer any significant advantage for growing broad or
runner beans. They are brilliant for root crops like carrots and parsnips because
they offer deep fine soil. They also work well for a salad bed, turnips and
I wouldn't turn an entire allotment over to raised beds but I certainly would
have some on the plot.
See Also Part 1 - About Deep Raised Beds
The plan below shows deep beds with primary and secondary paths