Planning Ahead with Raised Beds for Winter Vegetables

Posted on August 07, 2013 by Lavender World

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For some reason we’ve never quite got the hang of ensuring we have home-grown produce all year round. Although we’ve tried something usually hinders our progress. Flood damage has made our parsnips soggy, a couple of feet of snow killed off our winter turnips and the rabbits, being short of food elsewhere made short work of our cabbages.

This year we’ve vowed for it to be different. Although last October I did plant out early peas and beans but saw no sign come spring?

This year we have a plan and it’s definitely going to work.

We love gardening as you know but on a sub-zero day when hailstone is raining down it can be hard to find the motivation to step outside. When there’s quite a big area to consider, it does seem like an artic trek just making it to the veggie patch.

We think we’ve found a solution to all of the problems. Raised beds.

It seems a little silly that in half an acre of garden we choose to use raised beds, but they solve a lot of problems.

Tidying Up the Garden

We have one drive that hasn’t been used for decades. As a result it has a very thin layer of gravel, stone underneath and grass growing through. Due to the gravel we can’t use the lawnmower on it and even when we use the strimmer it still looks like it is – in need of serious money.

So we decided to use this spot for raised beds (hoping no one decides to use it for a drive now as it could make quite a mess), it’s amazing how much it has transformed the area already.

Run Rabbit Run

With these we can also put chicken wire over the top to stop the rabbits! They’re also a foot high so unless the rabbit is a good jumper…

Let it Snow, and Rain, and Hail

The smaller area also ensures that we can manage over watering or snow quite easily. It’s simply a case of scraping it off the top or putting on a plastic cover in a particularly hard down pour.

Early Firsts

After a few chats with friends I realised that some years even the most seasoned gardeners had trouble with crops. From particularly mild winters that failed to kill off pests and diseases to harsh winters that made even perennials die. Raised beds can combat the latter as a cloche can be added easily along with protection, so we could have our spring greens a little earlier next year.

The Cost

Online the cost of raised beds is phenomenal and it has always put me off buying them as many are needed to make a full vegetable patch. They’re also extremely small with larger ones costing a fortune, so I was surprised when we got three 4ft by 4ft, two 5ft by 2ft and smaller for £27!

They really are just wood screwed together in a square with posts in each corner for support. We chose to buy the wood but it can easily be sourced from pallets.

We then added our very own effective weed control fabric. The bags that usually hold animal feed. Topped with a layer of leaf mulch and compost from our own bin, we are ready to go, now what to grow?

What to grow for winter Veg

We’ve still in time to plant

  • Turnips and Swedes
  • Cabbages
  • Swiss Chard
  • Leeks
  • Late Peas
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram

 

And of course it’s the best time of year for making the most out of plants we already have. For instance we’ll:

  • Split chives and rhubarb crowns
  • Plant out side-shoots from strawberries
  • Sow hardy annual seeds while the soil is still warm.

There is still very much to do in the garden in August and September!

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