The horticulturalist's ultimate tool, raised beds create the perfect growing conditions for your crops. Loosely pack your compost and aerated soil will provide pores for air and moisture to reach your plant's roots.
Raised beds are planters used to grow crops. Historically, raised beds were used in country houses’ gardens to provide a source of food for the landlord. By the 18th century, crops were rotated between beds to increase yields with gardeners planning annual or biannual harvests to maximise output. By World War 2, growing crops were viewed as a patriotic duty with the country seeking self-sustainability. Today, raised beds are a fixture of gardens and allotments with hobbyists seeking to reduce their environmental footprint, compete in the town fair or simply stay active. Raised Vegetable Beds Raised grow beds are an essential part of any gardener’s garden. Our raised beds kits come in many different shapes and sizes, from planter tables to the more traditional square beds, so you’re sure to find one to suit your needs. Depending on size, raised beds can be used to plant everything from small trees and shrubs to vegetables and soft fruits, not to mention flowers and herbs. What are the advantages and benefits of a raised bed? Having a raised bed can allow for more planting, as the increased depth means more good quality, aerated soil for your plants. The physical barrier means you’ll have fewer weeds from the surrounding area creeping into your nutritious fresh soil, and some pests, such as Carrot Fly, are less likely to find their dinner. Improved drainage to your plants can be a pro or a con, depending on what you’re growing. With difficult clay soil or waterlogged areas, a raised bed can be a lifesaver, but warmer weather requires extra watering. They are also a great way to separate your plants from the rest of the garden. Whether you want to protect your plants from pests, pets, children (or just the lawnmower!), a garden beds gets far less traffic and so has less compacted and better structured soil for seedlings. What to look for when buying a raised bed? First and foremost, the depth of a raised bed is more important than its length or width. The extra height will provide more space for root vegetables such as carrots, turnips and potatoes, and allow for looser soil which is better for plants to grow. It can also be beneficial for small gardens to get maximum croppage out of the space. At Primrose, we have included the approximate capacity in litres of many raised beds to give a sense of how much one can grow. This is calculated through multiplying each dimension and then dividing by a thousand. Also, important is the shape of a bed. Generally, they are narrow that allows easy access to crops, which prevents the need to step on the soil that leads to compacted soil. What materials do raised beds come in? Raised Beds can be found in three materials wood, plastic and metal. Wooden ones are comprised of garden sleepers or railway sleepers that are often pressurised and treated to ensure a long lifespan. At Primrose, we are so confident of our timber beds’ durability that we offer a fifteen year guarantee on our Chamberlain range of raised beds. Metal raised beds are comprised of galvanised steel that is protective and resistant to corrosion. Plastic raised beds are also very strong and durable, and offer great value for money. What shapes do grow beds come in? At Primrose we stock beds in a range of shapes including the classic squares and rectangles, but also triangles, pentagons, and hexagons. We also stock raised beds with legs that is great for the less mobile. Does it matter where I place my grow bed? It is worthwhile ascertaining your soil type to make the most out of your beds. Grow beds are especially beneficial if your soil is poor or heavy. With the former the bed allows you to create an area rich in nutrients and with the latter it provides improved drainage. However, if your soil already drains quickly, the bed may drain too quickly. To remedy this, place gravel or stones at the bottom of the bed. In addition, it is recommended that you lay out your beds so both of the long boards receive sunlight. This will be useful in warming the soil in the colder months. To do this place your bed with a short board facing north. This can be gauged with a compass or you can simply wait for the sun to rise. Remember in the winter the sun rises in the southeast and sets in the northwest, while in summer it rises in the northeast and sets in the southwest. Can I put my grow bed on top of concrete? Yes, but it is recommended to add a liner to prevent leakage. It may be worthwhile to add organic matter, as well as mix your garden soil with compost to ensure your soil has all the useful micronutrients along with earthworms. Is there any disadvantages to grow beds? In almost all cases grow beds will produce superior yields, although there are two things to look out for. Firstly, as the boards warm in sunlight, extreme heat may dry out the soil near the boards. Secondly, this heat creates the perfect habitat for red ants that can disturb plants. To avoid this, make sure to water around the edges. Thirdly, during the colder months of the year, an elevated soil’s temperature may fall below that in the ground. While this will be fine for most raised beds, close to the ground, raised beds with legs are best moved inside. What is the best crops to grow in my bed? In general, we recommend that you practice crop rotation through rotating the crops you grow in four year cycles, in order to get the best possible yields. Although, if there is one crop to choose, it is asparagus, which has been traditionally grown as it suited to the well drained soil that the bed provides.