Raised Bed Gardening
It's always good to find out what the nation's gardeners are up to, and although not quite on the scale of a Gardener's World roadshow, I do occasionally get an insight into what plans others are drawing up.
One such lady is Eileen Jackson, who contacted me recently for advice on keeping rabbits away (humanely, of course) from her proposed raised bed development. Eileen, from Northumberland, is planning to construct 4 square raised beds made of larch. She explains; "The beds are to occupy a strip of land which forms part of a walled-side garden that slopes gently down towards the main garden."
Eileen continues; "I would have much preferred for the beds to have been laid out in the middle of the side garden but unfortunately my husband wouldn’t give up his lawn! I guess I am right in thinking that I will have to level out some of the strip in order to avoid water run-off and to give equal light to the plants in the beds. As it is not feasible to flatten out the whole strip I am considering creating a sort of stepped effect with the beds."
I'm sure you'll agree that the project sounds very interesting, and you can see the response I gave for the potential rabbit problems in full in our Ask the Expert section of the website.
I was keen to know more about the use of larch for constructing the beds, and Eileen had some answers for me. "The lady who recommended the idea to me, Anna Corbitt, suggested the untreated wood slats might last 4-5 years, though if I line the inner edge with a barrier material they should last a lot longer," reports Eileen. "Anna was the inspirational instructor on a day course I attended at Kirkley Hall, Northumberland College, in December 2006 called ‘Planning your Vegetable Garden.’"
Eileen's also been reading up on how to manage her beds once she gets round to constructing them. "Pauline Pears book ‘Growing Fruit & Vegetables on a Bed System’ (HDRA, 2004) has helped me layout my beds and work out some rotations so that the right plants get their nitrogen fix and so forth," she says.
Hopefully I'll hear more on how the job is progressing and I'll post any information I receive; and with the evenings getting longer and spring knocking on the door, maybe it's time you thought about a garden project of your own...