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Optimum size for raised beds.

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Plot22:
My wife has raised beds at home 2 in the middle of our 750square metre lawn and one covering almost the entire 25 odd metres of the bottom of our garden approx 20 metres by 6 metres. She makes them look really fantastic but initially the main problem was how do you fill them?. We planned it like a military operation and without the allotment we would not have succeeded. We transported bag after bag of rotted leaves which we had taken down to the allotment to decompose in the bins plus bag after bag of farmyard manure. Result we filled them all but still after top them up every year. The most important aspect of raised beds is filling them. My neighbour at the allotment site has converted 20% onto raised beds. 50% onto a chicken run and 30% onto a normal allotment plus his paths. I could not feed my family on that amount of growing space so I will stick with my conventional allotment  but each to it's own.

Paulh:
"How do you fill them?" is linked with what you do about paths.

You don't want to waste the top soil which will be where your paths will be permanently, so you should consider stripping it off and setting your beds lower (and perhaps using deeper boards to compensate).

You don't want to have to spend time clearing your paths of weeds, so make sure you can mow or strim them, or put down weed fabric and cover it with gravel or mulch.

cudsey:
I have quite a few raised beds on my allotment and I try to make them about 24ins high so that gives carrots and parsnips some depth but it depends on what you are wanting to grow in them 

Deb P:
Having spent many hours weeding various sorts of paths (compacted soil, wood chips, both of which just get messy and weedy, membrane and wood chips on top gets blown away and birds love it, I have ended up with paving stones, 2ft wide with membrane underneath. That way you donít spend more time weeding the paths then the beds! My beds are just edged with split scaffolding boards atm so only about 6Ē high, but they have rotted much more quickly than my old pallet ones did and with the paving Iím thinking of not bothering to replace them as they crumbleÖ.they get topped up every year depending on whatís growing in each bed and I think that and the reduced soil disturbance are the main benefits of the raised beds rather than the edgings which slugs and snails like to try and hide under!


Vinlander:

--- Quote from: Deb P on October 23, 2021, 06:43:45 ---Having spent many hours weeding various sorts of paths (compacted soil, wood chips, both of which just get messy and weedy, membrane and wood chips on top gets blown away and birds love it, I have ended up with paving stones, 2ft wide with membrane underneath. That way you donít spend more time weeding the paths then the beds! My beds are just edged with split scaffolding boards atm so only about 6Ē high, but they have rotted much more quickly than my old pallet ones did and with the paving Iím thinking of not bothering to replace them as they crumble
--- End quote ---

Two problems it seems. 1) wood chip won't stay put unless it is deep enough to interlock - if you have enough supplies you can dig out the spit of topsoil you're currently walking on (even if there is stone on top) and replace that spit with woodchip. It will stay there rotting into chocolate brown soil improver, but you will need to top it up as it rots - probably  every 6 months to keep the level right.

One option for the right level is right up to the raised soil level - and if you do that you can remove the planks and store them dry (solving problem 2).  2 or 3 years later when you harvest your soil improver you'll need them to support the trench until you can fill it with fresh chip. You only ever need enough planks for the one trench you're working on.

If the chip supply isn't good enough (because everyone else is letting it blow away), then you can use prunings (cut to 20cm-ish - mainly to make each piece straight enough to pack down well). Prunings are actually much better on wet ground (especially wet paths you use every day), because really wet chip can become wooden quicksand! Though prunings do take an extra year to become soil improver.

Cheers.

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