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Hi there.

I'm after some guidance on a vegetable patch I'm planning.

We recently moved into a house that had a large paly park at the bottom of the garden.  This is a barked area measuring approximately 5m x 5m.  I've now dismantled the park and am left with the area and thought to use to grow vegetables.  I was thinking of constructing 3 raised bed measuring 1m x 3m and 60 cm deep.  The current plan is to construct these out of marine ply and clad in something more visually appealling.  

Does this sound reasonable?  

One final point is that the area is relatively shady - it doesn't get much direct sunlight until the afternnon.  From research it looks like as long as I'm selective about what I plant I should be fine but would appreciate opinions from here.


Thanks in advance for any advice.


Rather than ply use scaffold boards - stronger. You can then clad them or just paint them in a pleasant colour

You should be able to grow plenty of veg and get the crop rotation going with 3 beds.

Not very good on what to grow veg wise, but I am sure others on here will help


Hi Smokey,

You will be able to grow lettuce (better in some shade as it doesn't tend to go to seed so quick), kale, brocolli, cauliflower, sprouts, peas, beans, spinach, beets, swiss chard etc.

Why so deep for the raised beds?  2 feet is rather a lot unless you are on a hard surface and not high enough to make a difference if you have knee or back problems. 1 foot deep (300mm) is plenty and so is 6 inches so long as you dig over.  Also, it is easier to make the beds 1.2m x 2.4m because of the popular timber pre-cut lengths.

As for what timber to use - marine ply - although rot resistant - won't be strong enough (if the bed half fills with rain at 1m x 3m x .6m it will weigh 9 tonnes with water alone).  I would go with scaffold boards if you can get them or decking.

Good shout on the scaffold boards.  Hadn't thought of that.  

The thinking behind the depth was due to what is there already.  Currently in the area is covered in an old layer of play area bark to a depth of about 4-5 inches with a membrane underneath.  This has compacted down over the years.  Rather than dig it up I was thinking of simply laying another membrane and using gravel (well, slate) over the top as we prefer the look.  This would mean that the bed was sat straight on top of bark and a membrane rather than soil.  Hence I thought it might need to be a bit deeper, although now you say it 2 feet sounds a bit too deep.


When I was designing my garden I was unaware the builders who had renovated our house had buried the old roof, asbestos and all, underneath the turf exactly where I was intending to grow edible stuff.  I had no viable alternative except to adapt my plan to raised beds, which actually has worked out brilliantly anyway as its much easier to segregate and tend plants in discrete sections. All of my beds are 12 inches deep and I haven't come across anything yet that hasn't found that sufficient to thrive in. Besides, the cubic capacity of the beds is surprisingly huge. I honestly wouldn't want to have to fill beds any deeper than necessary



Scaffold boards about £5.00 each from a local company plus delivery costs

They are solid and you can forget about painting as they are pressure treated and low maintenance

Make them just wide enough so you can get to the middle to weed

There is a How To video on this website

Green Magpie

My beds are about a foot deep and that seems plenty. They're on a soil base. The optimum width is from about 1.2 to 1.5 metres - anything wider and you won't be able to reach across to tend them.

Brassicas are the one thing I have trouble with, as the soil is too loose (that and the endless pests that brassicas are prey to). Eyerything else does well - carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, peas, beans, salads, fruit canes, asparagus ...


Only problem with sleepers is the creosote a lot of the old ones were painted with - it's very poisonous.

If you put your beds on top of the membrane plants will still grow well with a foot deep of soil.  

However it's a lot of soil/compost to fill them. 1m x 3m x 0.3m = 900 litres of soil each and you want 3 = 2700 litres.


I would just add that if you have them too deep you will need alot more soil/compast to fill them up as the levels will go down over the year. Also leave enough space in between the beds to get your wheelbarrow through.

Hello, I'm rather new to gardening but seem to have picked up the bug this year. I'd started out on some indoor chillis that I'd planted late in the year previous and haven't stopped producing fruit at any point in the following year and a half. I was concerned that starting the seeds in late August might not have been the best move but I digress.

Since then I took a slightly chaotic approach to planting whatever seeds I bought cheap or was given without planning accordingly. I had some reasonable success with lemon cucumbers, a lot of courgettes allowing for a couple to be picked per day for a few weeks at one point, tomatoes tumbling from baskets and not so successfully with some of the varieties of chillis I grew.

Due to the haphazard approach there was lots growing in individual pots, certainly the chillis that were clustered together in larger containers did better than individuals that were more isolated. Sadly some of my perpetual spinach, beetroot, radishes and carrots got demolished by the sparrows and pigeons.

Our garden is mostly paved but we've set about lifting a rectangle of the slabs and turning them on their side to form walls to make a raised bed. This was the plan at least but after laying down some dead leaves and emptying this year's used grow bags into the area we've noticed the slabs have cracked. This is quite possibly due to the age more than anything else. Those slabs had been down for at least 30 years.

We're now tempted to put a pre cut wooden kit in there like these that said we may be able to use some of the old slabs to make walls for a smaller bed, even if at only half the height we'd originally planned.

Regarding the plants I want to grow, would I be ok growing the likes of kale, perpetual spinach, carrots, peas, broad beans and chillis all within the same beds? Assuming adequate spacing is left. With nets more securely placed would the crops do better being more closely placed than they have been in individual pots? We did put nets over the plants once we realised the sparrows were causing damage but they still found their way in and had developed quite a taste for beet leaves.


Whilst the woodblox ones look lovely, Hophead, I have to admit that Jame's solution would fit my own budget a lot better  


Hi Hophead

I bought my raised bed kits from Harrod Horticultural. They have a lot of different sizes and different qualities. They are easy to construct (i did them myself) and delivery etc was very good


Thanks for the info Matty. Being easy to construct is a good thing. We're doing a bit of shopping around at present but these are definitely an option we're considering.

I made my own from thick timber and cemented in with 3 foot fence posts  to bolt them into.



Took some doing but relativity easy to build with 2 people

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