You will, by now, have noticed two new raised beds in the garden.
The idea was bounced around by the Executive Committee for many months. We had the outline of a plan, but never found the right time to pull it together. Then, a few days before 2nd Volunteer Day, all the stars aligned and, with the help of many enthusiastic volunteers, it happened.
With hindsight, we should have announced the plan before the beds were set up. Still, the response of the gardeners has been mostly positive, and for those interested, this post will explain the purpose and planning behind the raised beds.
Some of us on the Exec noticed a few of our gardeners struggling with the kind of bending and kneeling that conventional gardening demands. Offering a couple of raised beds to accommodate people with mobility problems seemed worthy of a trial. Though it is too late to offer them this year, we will be taking enquiries to assign them for the 2024 gardening season. This year, they will be planted with volunteered plants, tended by volunteers, with all produce going to the foodbank.
Choosing the type of beds
We looked at a variety of raised beds that are available to buy locally. We wanted to avoid plastic or other non-recyclable materials. Timber beds, though the most aesthetically pleasing, were expensive, not as high as we wanted, and prone to rot. Eventually, we settled on galvanised steel beds for their height, durability, cost and ease of assembly.
When considering where to put the beds, we set the following criteria: accessible by the wide gate, near the shed, within reach of a hose. We also wanted, as far as possible, to integrate them into the main garden’s circular structure. Over the coming weeks, paths around the beds will be weeded and mulched.
Filling the beds
The Exec members spent time researching how best to fill the beds. Buying compost or top soil would be expensive. It was only after it was suggested that we use the soil made by the old compost heap that we agreed the project was do-able. Of course, this would require the help of many volunteers to dig, sieve and pour the soil into the beds. With Volunteer Day 2 coming up, we decided to take a chance and put our plan into immediate action!
Pros and cons
A big steel box is not everyone’s idea of beautiful. They are very shiny – particularly on the clear, sunny days we have experienced this year. We took this concern to the supplier, who assured us that rain will oxidize the steel over time and become duller. Some reflectivity is part of the design, as it helps keep the beds from absorbing too much heat, which would be damaging to plants.
The beds are designed with folded edges to prevent cuts and scrapes. Still, like many
things used in the garden – rakes, spades, fencing and shrubs, to name a few – care needs to be taken. As we trial the use of the beds, we might consider some enhancements, such as a wood edging to make leaning over the bed more comfortable.
A final concern is the proximity of the beds to the Morning Glory that plagues the outer plots of the garden. It will take a concerted effort by all of gardeners affected by this pernicious weed to help keep the problem to a minimum.
On the whole, we hope that the raised beds proved to be a success. Once again, we would like to thank all the volunteers who assembled and filled the beds on Saturday.
Some people have asked about the supplier and the price of the beds. We are very grateful to Edge Wholesale Direct for supplying them at cost. Follow the link to check out their retail options and prices.