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10/10/2014 at 20:20

My raised bed is on top of thick clay soil, so I put a 2-3cm layer of clay pebbles down first to help the water drain away. Then I filled it up half way with compost mixed with a few tiny twigs and pebbles, roughly 20% - just as an extra drainage caution. Then pure compost for the rest. 

I had no idea if this was right at the time. But this year my spuds in the bed produced True potato seeds, they look like tomatoes. I read they only do this in 'perfect conditions' I was doing cartwheels in my head when I read that. Years ago I'd have done an actual cartwheel

09/12/2014 at 21:21

Reading these posts has finally convinced me to get the proverbial finger out. Thanks to all that contribute to this forum and help me make a move.

There seem to be many ways of building raised bed. My choice went for heavy duty. If anybody was interested to build something similar, it works out at roughly 100/120 quid including 200 litres of bought compost for the top layers per bed. ....And a sweaty afternoon or two.


The beds are 8X4, made of pressure treated sleepers, lined to prevent chemical leaks into the soil. They are pegged in place with rebar on a bed of chukies which should promote drainage.

Half filled with home made compost, a layer of horse manure, a sprinkle of local peat dust, stacks of seaweed and the last 6 inches is a mixture of mole heaps and bought compost.

The deed is done, and I could not resist trying some garlic, onions and shallots in one of them, rather than wait for spring. I nearly can hear them grow.

We'll see what happens next.


10/12/2014 at 12:44

Any thoughts about the pros and cons of using a recycled hard plastic material to build the sides of a raised bed vs using wood?  Aesthetically I am drawn to wood, but I have read that this can encourage woodlice infestation.  I have also read that raised beds can create more problems with slugs, although I don't think that was specific to the type of material used, and more about how the bed sides can provide them a good hiding place.

But interested to hear thoughts about using the hard plastic.  Saw a kit of this sort in the Organic Gardening Catalogue; I believe it is a sturdy enough material that it doesn't leach.

10/12/2014 at 13:00


My own experience of wood and plastic ,previous post refers.

I have just had to replace two raised beds that had rotted , not all of the planks, but bad enough.Five years life.

I have three plastic sawn off very large containers filled at the same tin e 100 plus litres each which are still as good as new.

I agree with the woodlice problem and slugs in raised beds plus possible chemical nasties,

I can also, if I wish, re- site the  a better position as trees grow near.

10/12/2014 at 18:23

 Hi Mel Mcbride.

Sorry i missed your first post. Back on 10/10/2014. I was away.Sorry/

From what i can see you have done the job perfect. I hope you have taken the advantage of the autumn leaf and stacked, huge amounts to use. 

If not please do. The clay base you have is full of the best nutrients and should be used. Even if you have drainage issued (you did not say?) its the best beds i have seen

Apart from the fact that you need worms. Can i recommend.

I might be a bit bias.

Well done with that. You know your stuff.

I don't think you need any help. You have it. Enjoy 


11/12/2014 at 16:57

November Member -- thanks for the feedback!  Will charge ahead with more confidence now.  Just wish they were more pretty, but I will have to hope my veggies will take up the beauty banner and run with it.

12/12/2014 at 11:32

Glad to be able to help.

I now know the ones you mention in the organic gardening as I purchased some over 25 years ago and they have been used for growing vegetables ever since,

Not a trace of wear, and having bought two at the time they can be made into any shape, to fit your space.that you wish.

The only downside is that they are quite shallow, and my wooden and plastic ones are about three time higher.

I might put one on top of the other this year to obviate. this disadvantage.


12/12/2014 at 12:58

Has the shallowness of the beds affected what you're able to grow in them?  What is under the beds? 

We're going to be putting our beds on top of soil -- to be specific, they're going on top of part of what is now our lawn, although I think our lawn is just sitting on top of subsoil and has been for years.  The soil back there doesn't have much "top" to it at all -- my suspicion is that when they built the houses, they just laid turf on top of the clay subsoil and left it at that, and the subsequent owners were not that interested in improving the garden.

We've dug the turf this week, and we are about to apply a couple of inches of compost and overlay that with a carboard mulch for a few months, to give the worms a chance to start incorporating the compost.  Then when we put the beds on top of that patch, we will fill in with a mix of topsoil and compost and let it sit for another month before planting out.  That's the plan, anyway, but I'm still a beginner so I only have a beginner level of confidence that this is the right way forward. 

31/12/2014 at 21:47

I created raised beds in my garden. They're quite tall so I filled the base with a load of gravel I had. I then piled in some sand and topsoil which I'd removed from the ground I'd cleared. Its heavy clay so the sand was able to break it up a bit. I then found some well rotted manure and piled it in. I haven't grown anything in them yet (only a few weeds!) But I'm giving it until spring for it to break down over winter. Its crawling with worms though so hopefully that's a positive sign!

01/01/2015 at 06:57

Chicken chaser - if you can get some well-rotted farmyard manure (chicken manure?) and spread it over the raised beds now, the worms will love it - it will help to keep them warm and they will pull it down into the soil and improve it's structure and fertility for the spring

22/09/2015 at 23:44

I just took delivery of 2 raised bed kits..Also was interested in filling.

I intended manure ,compost and top soil mix for one to grow onions and garlic etc then one without manure to grow carrots etc... Got composted horse manue and even pelleted poultry manure cos I want bigger onions next tim.  Green fingers crossed..

27/09/2015 at 21:48

Well I have filled both beds now and planted up the manured one with Shensui yellow onions and also Siver white onions and Marco garlic...  The 2nd bed has yet to be plamted... I need some ideas for the 2nd on...

Just filling it was back breaking.. Bags of top soil are rather heavier than I anticipated... Have obtained some Earlt Nante carrot seeds today.. So I will need to sow some directly and some inside, just in case, the local moggies discover it as a potential toilet spot...


What else can I plant now in the 2nd one..? Ideas please..

27/09/2015 at 22:09

The seaweed/manure/compost/mole heaps has been a success. Had to cover one of the bed containing more tender veg in April when it snowed up here in Northern Scotand. But these beds are a great. That's one bit of work I will not regret.

One year on, I have levelled the area, shifted the beds and got myself a greenhouse. This occupation can become quite addictive.


@BLT... I could suggest leeks. If you can put your hands on some plants. May be too late to start seedlings now. More experienced gardeners here will surely come up with something. I am still waiting for Shensui onion sets and Garlic ordered last month from Marshall... Hope they turn up before xmas


27/09/2015 at 22:42

 Thank you for your prompt reply,I was lucky to discover a new garden centre in Battlesbridge in Essex. This place supplies all the Allotment associations so I got my onion sets  3 weeks ago. I grew Leeks last year Musselburgs had far too many.. I gave away 40 seedlings and grew 40..They occupy the ground a bit too long.

The Gardeners World team suggested the Early variety of carrots specifically so got thise.. If the weather holds they should be ok.

09/11/2015 at 12:55

I have just bought 3 ready-made raised beds, 1 metre by 2 metres, with a topping on the sides for sitting on when I'm weeding,  I bought them from Wiltshire Wood Recycling who are an amazing bunch and who were very helpful when I went to them with my ideas. Thanks for all the earlier posts about filling them. I shall probably use some rotted manure mixed with all my home-made compost, but may need more topsoil, so any suggestions about mot being ripped off when purchasing this would be appreciated.

24/11/2015 at 23:39


You have plenty time till you start using those.

I built an another two beds this fall, and will carry on bringing 10 odd litres of top soil gathered from mole heaps every day this winter. Takes a few mns a day after work, and they quickly fill up for no money.

The little creatures are getting really busy just now. The only draw back is that the work colleagues think you are a weirdo when you turn up at the office with a shovel... ;0)

Having said that, any housing development in your area? You'll be amazed how a bottle of malt whisky can translate into top soil.


27/11/2015 at 19:11

I just converted lawn to beds. I removed the turf and left it to compost, it breaks down nicely. Compost on the grassless lawn, which is heavy clay, then a few months later plant. Clay makes excellent soil but slow to warm in spring. 

27/11/2015 at 22:17

Just a lil update, my 2 raised beds seem to be doing very well. my spring cabbage and sprouting broccoli and carrots are doing great in the none manured on and the onions, shallots and garlic seem happy in the manured one.. I seem to have 2 or 3 li potato plants come up, but the frost will sort them out.. A few small weeds are appearing but they are hardly big enough to remove..

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