Raised beds, chapter one

5 Apr

Chapter one because I suspect I may get a great deal of mileage out of the raised beds saga. In allotmenteering terms it equates the biggest engineering project there is. As long ago as last summer people have been advising us to go the raised bed route. And until now I have resisted mainly because it’s time consuming and costly. And as anyone who has had an allotment will testify, this is not as dirt cheap a hobby as you might hope. There seems to be a never ending list of quite costly kit to buy. At the beginning we pledged we would not get all over enthused and start throwing money at this project, mainly because we have very little to spare and things like replacing an ailing car or guttering has to come first these days.

Saying that we have still managed to spend a surprising amount on our plot despite doing things like recycling twenty year old shelf units in the spirit of thriftiness. So far I have spent £35 on membrane, £30 on two forks, £5 on my new fav tool, the Dutch Hoe, another £5 on an ergonomic  hand fork. The fruit trees and bushes have cost £15 and they were a bargain. Seeds and potatoes to plant comes to another £10. Probably £30 has been spent on bark chips, compost, sand and pea shingle in a bid to control the pond and weeds and to get things growing. I spent £20 the other week at Wilkinsons on pots, trays and a watering can. And I still don’t have decent wellies (next year, I promise). There was the water butt and stand which cost another thirty quid. There is probably other stuff I have forgotten and this has been over the last year so it’s felt relatively painless but when you include the dirt cheap rent of £15 a year I realise it is going to be a long time before I grow £200 worth of vegetables to make the project pay for itself.

dutch hoe

The Dutch Hoe, one of the endless bits of essential kit all allotment keepers need.

So shelling out for raised bed kits (yes I know you can make your own but have I mentioned before we have even less time than we do money?) seemed an investment too far. Fast forward to the Easter sales and Homebase being nearby and Ken feeling a bit extravagant and what do you know – we have two raised bed kits awaiting construction in our shed and I now need to grow £250 worth of vegetables to make this project pay for itself!

They remain unmade due to the snow flurry scuppering our sort-out-the-allotment day yesterday. But Ken is always inexplicably extra keen to escape to the allotment when the kids are in the house and so once they were safely home from their sleepover he was suddenly much keener to go to the allotment than he was yesterday (admittedly the sunshine also helped). He started levelling off the land, turning the soil and getting it all set up for our first raised beds while I stayed at home and baked with the kids. Once I got over the fact it felt like we had momentarily gone back in time to the fifties I realised this is exciting stuff. We are on the cusp of embarking on the Rolls Royce of gardening!

Upper raised bed

Getting bed number two ready to become a raised bed!

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One Response to “Raised beds, chapter one”

  1. Gill Ridgewell April 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    Wow I am seriously impressed! And even non-gardeners like me have heard that raised beds are a Good Thing. Thanks for photo of Dutch Hoe! Now I know what that is and how it differs from a British hoe. At least I assume the hoe my Dad had was a British one! Xx

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