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Help with planning size of my raised beds.


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  • Help with planning size of my raised beds.

    I have been out and measured up my garden. I have 2-3 sections that I can use for my raised beds but I am unsure what wil be the better sizes or set-ups, my main veg I will grow will be carrots, cabbage, swede, leeks, possibly parsnips or turnips but I haven't decided fully on others if any

    The first is sized 8ft x 5ft. I was thinking of doing 2 long beds 4ft by 2ft so that I leave 1ft inbetween them (I have allowed space at the other sides for access as well, not just the 1ft inbetween) this allows me a total of 32ft of cultivating space (16ft per bed), but then if I do 2 lots of 5ft x 3.5ft it gives me 35ft of space.

    The 2nd is 5ft x 8ft again but the 8ft side is next to a fence so doing 2 lots of 8 x 2 will be unworkable as I will not have room to access one fo the beds so I will need to do 5ft x 3.5ft here.

    The 3rd I am not sure if I will use or not is 7.5ft x 4.5ft.

    I think I might make up 4 beds in the first 2 sections, leave one empty and then in the 2nd year add another 2 so that I have 6 workable beds but only 3 in the first year so it isn't too much while I am learning.

    Also under all of these is a lawn, would this need to be dug up or would the grass die out once I fill in the beds with dirt? I will be forking/digging the ground beforehand to loosen it up abit, just not sure if I should remove the grass or if it will die off?


  • #2
    Eh up


    I'm sure others will be along but I'd need to see it.

    ETA: why not have them all at 4ft wide, if you can reach the middle from both sides you should be fine, and you can section them off with canes as you need them...
    Last edited by zazen999; 14-11-2008, 02:19 PM.


    • #3
      Hello Nicola, don't be tempted to make any of the beds more than 4' wide as you just can't reach into the middle. Even 4' can be a stretch once plants are growing in there. I've made my new beds 3'9 and that's about perfect. As for length I think it's just about what's available and how you want them to look.

      From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.


      • #4
        I will get some pictures soon and post them later.

        I didn't want to make them 4ft as I am quite short with short arms so would be a struggle to reach the middle, my garden is also quite small so I didn't want the beds to takeover the garden.


        • #5
          Hi Nicola, it's really up to you! We drew ours out several times before coming up with the final layout.

          At the lottie we are [well, I am] making up sides with 2 pens nailed in - so that if I change my mind it won't be too much of a struggle just to pull the sides out and reposition.

          I'd use any canes or old wood to mark out the beds, and leave it on the ground for a few days, walking in the bits that you would walk in - and only when you are happy, make the sides permanent. You might find that 12 inches down the middle is too narrow to be useful, I have some small beds in our courtyard and 12 inches is too narrow for me to kneel, but because the beds are the way they are, I just bend over to plant stuff, and they are weeded in bits as we go - I couldn't do that at the lottie as I do bulk plantings/weedings so need space to kneel - so our paths are about 2 1/2 ft wide there.


          • #6
            Ok here are pics of my garden as it stands at the moment.

            This is the whole garden (minus the patio)

            This is the section that I measured to be 8ft (from fence to just before the stepping stone) and 5ft (from the wall on the left to the edge of the right side of the picture) when I measure 5ft I allowed space to the left and right to get past.

            This is the other section that is 8ft x 5ft (8ft length is from the left of the pic to the right)

            And the last section that I am unsure whether or not i want to use is the 7.5ft x 4.5ftm (7.5ft is from front of pic to the back, 4.5 ft is from left to right)

            Thanks for your help.


            • #7
              Also for the bunny proofing would it work if I tied 2 canes together to make a sort of triangle and stuck each end in a corner of the bed, make a few sets of these along the bed and then laid another cane between the tops of these and laid fleece/mesh across and held into the ground with tent pegs to make a sort of tent shape covering the crops. Seems it might be the cheapest and easiest to make? Can then also cover with polythene in winter to make a sort of polytunnel? My rabbits are lazy, they will eat whats around but don't go to any special trouble to break in anywhere (the garden above was full of plants before bunnys moved in)


              • #8
                Well I work in centimeters, so hope it doesn't phase you too much! I've done quite a lot of reading, and then proceeded to ignore it, and have realised just how right the advice was!

                I made beds 1.2 -1.3m wide, with paths 30cm wide. I found the paths way to narrow to bend down in, get a wheelbarrow in or pass anybody on. The beds were too deep for me to lean in comfortably and work the whole bed from one side, say watering. They are currently about 4.5m long, and this does take a long time to walk around when you want to work the other side.

                So I have decided to have beds 1m wide, with paths 45cm, and no longer than 3m - just as the books said in the first place! I think that will work perfectly, and plan to plant in blocks of 1m sqaure, rather than traditional rows.



                • #9
                  I think those beds are alot larger then what I can fit.
                  Your beds of 1m x 3m work out as 10ft x 3.5ft. The biggest I can fit would be 8ft x 2ft which works out roughly as 0.5m x 2.5m.

                  Is 2ft wide enough to allow enough gap between rows ( Plan to work in 2ft squares)

                  The plan I have for what will be growing is roughly (still a work in progress)

                  Beetroot = half a third
                  Carrot = 2 thirds
                  Parsnip = half a third

                  Cabbage = half
                  Swede = quarter
                  Turnip = quarter

                  Leek = half
                  Lettuce = intercropped with the leeks
                  French bean = half


                  • #10
                    Hi Nicola.

                    Looking at your plot, you definitely need to mark it out with something like canes and see for yourself what size beds both look good and will be workable. The amount you will fit in will depend on how closely you sow, you will get more crops over a longer period if you succession sow and never leave any ground empty of crops; so always have more in modules ready to go straight in. Apart from beans, al the other crops you have listed can be grown all year round anyway.

                    I wouldn't get TOO hung up on sizes, in a plot that is quite small you will need to get savvy with small spaces, and it's small enough to mark out by eye.


                    • #11
                      Thanks for that. I think I am getting hung up on all the info I am reading that say it 'has' to be this size and it's 'better' to be this size. I think the sizes I mentioned in my first post will suit me better.

                      To grow them all year round so they need to be under cloches or anything once outside? and is it as simple as just I pull one turnip up and plant another seedling in it's place?


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nicola.P View Post
                        To grow them all year round so they need to be under cloches or anything once outside?
                        to grow what all year round?
                        not everything will grow all year round ... one of the best things about growing your own is realising and appreciating veg "in season"
                        All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.


                        • #13
                          The post above stated that apart from beans most of the veg I listed can be grown all year round.

                          I realised late yesterday that with the covers I am going to make for them for bunny proofing that I probably won't be able to go for 8ft as the washing line will be in the way when I use it in summer, so will have to stick with the 2nd option of doing 5ft x 3.5ft. Really not looking forward to the digging, we have heavy clay soil that has been under lawn for a good number of years (most likely since the house was built in the 70's)


                          • #14
                            Hi Nicola.

                            What I mean is that beans are tender and can't be grown through the winter.

                            All the rest of what you have listed can be grown throughout the year, by choosing for example winter lettuce to grow through the winter, and normal lettuce through the summer. They may not be the same types of lettuce.

                            Your brassicas will be in the ground for ages before being harvested, and are hardy - so successional sowing these will give you crops through the year, particularly if you choose different types - again you get different types of sprouting broccoli.

                            I would only dig the beds that are having carrots in your first year, and as you rotate your veg round, just dig the carrot bed each year. Leeks are well known for breaking up ground with their roots, and brassicas love solid ground. Once you put the lettuces in, their roots are quite shallow so you won't need to dig at all. Once the soil is in the ground, with worms in it, it will help to soften the hard ground underneath. Don't dig unless you have to!


                            • #15
                              Ahh right I get what you mean now.
                              Ohh goody less digging. I suppose the grass would die out once the other dirt has been placed on top and the light cut out.

                              I found some giant net tunnels in the garden centre that are 2ft wide so will fit over the beds quite well but they aren't quite as high as what I was going to make so won't interfere with my washing line so I bought 3 of those for bunny proofing, they also did fleece and plastic ones but I just got the net and thought I can chuck my own fleece or plastic over them if needed.
                              I also invested in a fork, spade and some potting compost and module trays so I don;t have to shell out in one go in the spring.


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