quick kitchen garden update

A Quick Kitchen Garden Update: 2 and a Half Raised Beds!

I’ve been working against the clock in more ways than one, but my plans for a neat, attractive kitchen garden to complement my new allotment are well underway.

Two weekends ago, my scruffy, neglected, end of summer patch looked like this:

quick kitchen garden

A few days of graft later, and we have two and a half raised beds. 🙂

The bed on the left is made of scaffold boards – some of which I was given by a friendly scaffolder, and the others I was fortunate enough to find buried under the weeds on my new allotment plot.

I Haven’t Spent a Penny (more by luck than judgement…)
The two other beds have been built using beautiful old sleepers that I’ve got from a couple who are downsizing. This sounds like the ultimate skip divers achievement, but sadly it’s nowhere near that cool. The couple is actually my mum and dad, so I’m not even sure I can claim this one, but thanks mum and dad even so. You’ve saved me a small fortune.

The downside of this is that I’ve had to move fast to get the sleepers out of mum and dad’s before the sale goes through. This has also been the case with the topsoil which I’ve filled the beds with. The house opposite me has been having work done to their driveway, and the builder let me nab some of the topsoil.

Of course, this left me working to another deadline, so the raised bed installation has been a tad arse about-face. I collected the boards and sleepers and barrowed the soil before clearing the weeds, and for a simple soul like me, this took some logical thinking.

However, with so much free stuff falling into my lap, I did consider buying a lottery ticket.

Visualising the Space
Once I’d weeded well, I rough dug before laying the boards and sleepers out to give an idea of how they’d fit into the space. Measuring is all well and good, but only once everything is where it is going to live do you get a true idea of the space you have to work within.

I went for 5ft wide beds in the end, which I can just about get across without having to step on the soil. Again, this is only something you really know when you’ve got the bed in place.

Although a fair quality, the topsoil is heavier than I thought now some rain has got to it. Once I’ve got plenty of leaf mould dig in, I’m hoping for a lighter feel.

The Hard Work is Nearly Over – For Now!
By the end of next weekend, I should have the third bed completed and the leaf mould dug in. All that’s left after that is to add a hefty topping of manure. I’m looking forward to finishing – as satisfying as the work has been, barrowing nearly 30 loads down the road and hulking heavy old sleepers around has been hard graft!

I’m already chuffed with the way everything looks much neater. I can now picture a nice bench in the back corner, overlooking my tidy, ordered patch, rather than the fun but slightly unruly plot I’ve tended to this summer. The unruly plot was a great company, but looking at the raggedness over my morning tea was beginning to get me down.

Once finished, my next job is to decide what I’m going to do for paths. I’d rather not let the grass grow back, and a suppressant membrane with chippings is something I’m considering.

However, I did catch myself counting how many lovely old bricks were laying around mum’s garden, An old brick path would look so very lovely…

13 thoughts on “A Quick Kitchen Garden Update: 2 and a Half Raised Beds!”

  1. Hi Jono,
    It’s looking good so far. Seems to use the space well.
    Is the third bed going on the other side of the central concrete path?
    Raised beds do take a bit of filling first time round don’t they?

    We were offered some “topsoil” for our allotments by someone digging up their yard before paving it over.
    I went to have a look but found it had more clay and rocks in it than I’d already cleared from my own plot!

    Brick paths sound rather fine if you have the skills and a spirit level.

    1. Hi David – third bed is going to the right of the greenhouse. Going to be slightly thinner at 4ft wide, but should still give me some good space.

      I have the spirit level, but not so sure about the skills!

    2. When I lived in the Bay Area in CA, there was a farmer that would go auornd to all of the Starbucks from Burlingame to Sunnyvale once a week, and take it back to his little farm, and filled all of his raised beds with strictly coffee grounds. He had some of the best looking produce I have ever seen. One of the things about the grounds are, they are from many different countries, in turn gives you many different mineral contents. I use a 50% ratio of grounds to my compost and it works well.

  2. Doesn’t it depend on what kind of bricks they are? I understand that house bricks get broken up by frost: paths are usually made from harder, engineering bricks. How wide are your paths, please? It looks great; i always feel so excited when I see an prepared, empty bed! Can’t wait for the spring.

  3. Hey Sparrowgrass – I’m not sure. The bricks in mum’s garden are all very old, but have been used as borders etc for donkey’s years and they don’t seem damaged.

    I know exactly what you mean about prepared beds. I almost take as much joy from a freshly dug bed as I do growing veg! Such a satisfying feeling.

    My paths are about 3 foot wide between the two main beds. Bit thinner against the fencing etc.

  4. Wow Jono! You certainly know how to get things done. It’s looking amazing, can’t wait to see the pictures next year when those lovely beds are full of produce.

      1. Just a heads up. One of the greatest thgnis I add to my bins is coffee grounds. Starbucks has a program called grounds for your garden. They put their grounds in the 5lb coffee bags and let you have them (for free!). If you are in an area with lots of them, you can get amazing compost even faster! I have even seen amazing results from people just growing in strictly coffee grounds. Just thought I would let you know since you are a real man, and compost.

  5. We built raised beds when we first moved in here so we could have veg beds as we didn’t have an allotment at the time. In the end though the neighbourhood cats defeated us. It was soul destroying to have beds used as their litter tray. We tried covering it in netting, gooseberry and rose prunings. You name it, it didn’t work. Fortunately we were given an allotment. I do envy your kitchen garden. It’s not so convenient to pop up to the allotment just to pick some lettuce or herbs.!!! Beds are superb at giving your growing area structure.

    1. Hey WW – thanks for your comment. My neighbours have moved out in the past week, taking their 3 cats with them. Will miss my nice neighbours, but definitely not their cats!

      I did read that lemon balm is supposed to deter them, but not tried it myself.

  6. Hey there Jono, great blog!
    I’d never have considered myself a gardening fan a couple of years ago but after my girlfriend got me started on indoor chilli plants that changed a bit.

    Judging from the pics we’ve got similar sized gardens. Sadly mine is mostly paved. This year I’ve grown different chillis and tomatoes in pots and planters with varied success. We grew our own potatoes in large tubs that did really well, as did our courgettes straight from what little soil is available at the edge of the paving slabs.

    Unfortunately the birds attacked my perpetual spinach, chard, beetroot and even the carrots in tubs. We put netting over but the sparrows were getting in.

    I’m planning on starting some raised beds from a modular kit http://www.woodblocx.co.uk/blocxbox2475x1500x450mm-p-1609.html

    I wondered if the leafy veg might do better with other crops growing fairly close together? Naturally I’ll have to do a good job with the netting over the top but it’s fair to say my more densely packed chilli plants survived the onslaught better than those that were more isolated. The pigeons and sparrows really are hooligans. Obviously I’ll have to be fairly vigilant with the thinning out but was hoping to have a variety of root veg, salad leaves peas and beans and chilli plants dispersed throughout the raised beds.

    Unfortunately for the crops the bird table and supply of feed is a permanent feature of our garden that will be here to stay so I have to work around that.

    I look forward to seeing how things progress with your raised beds.

  7. Hi, moved house this autumn and have just finished digging new plot. It’s about 4.5m square. Looking forward to putting in planks for beds. Will watch your progress with real interest.

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