Raised bed disadvantages

Back in the halcyon days when I was planning how wonderful my allotment was going to look the advantages of raised beds seemed overwhelming. Nice easy access, increasingly no need to dig as they got deeper with fine composted soil, better drainage for our clay infested ground, and of course I could pack plants in at a much greater rate than normal planting.
Don't know why they were halcyon days since I had a plot in front of me that looked like a straight transplant from one of the wilder corners of Bodmin Moor (click here to see what I was facing). Nevertheless, having raised beds did help me pace the digging... rather than a huge expanse to turn over I only had this one bed to do (so long as I kept my eyes averted from the other twelve!). After three and a half years (gosh, that long?) the disadvantages of my raised beds are now starting to grind, some of which can be seen from the image above (click to enlarge).
Firstly there's lots and lots of paths in between. All with lots and lots of grass to cut. The wood chip I put down in January has certainly suppressed the growth, but have added the occasional frisson of a flying chip bouncing off my pate. I spend about twenty minutes most days strimming before I do anything else, bit like painting the Forth bridge. Often my daily visit is only for an hour or so and that means a big chunk of available time used up already.
Secondly, the depth of the beds hasn't markedly improved in spite of loads of good stuff being added. Unless I get in a huge amount of compost at an equally huge price it'll take years, meanwhile I'm still struggling to grow carrots through lack of deep soil.
Finally, now I've got a second adjoining plot I've no need to pack plants in. In fact I've been getting comments back from the pack (wife and daughters) that I don't seem to be getting much bang for my bucks. Apparently Becky's friend Hayley does much better than me in spite of being a mother of four small children with active life in all directions who doesn't have much time spare yet keeps returning from her plot arms full of carrots, new potatoes, lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, garlic etc. etc...... yawn!
And last but not least, it just looks sooooooooooooo untidy at this time of year, when grass is sprouting from the wood surrounding the beds. So I'm toying with the idea of converting my front plot to a more traditional layout of dug beds and just have a few smaller and deeper raised beds to grow huge and delicious carrots. Can use the loads of leftover wood I'll have to build a treehouse for the grandchildren. So that's the winter months allocated! And of course more construction work.
Harvested the garlic and most of the onions, Everything in the greenhouse is bursting forth. Raspberries starting to ripen, although I'll only have a plateful. Recently bottled some rhubarb wine which tasted very nice (always have a quick slurp to check), so I've started actively watering the plants that had almost gone dormant to hopefully start more wine. Lots more images at the foot of this posting.
Had a great time on our few days in Scone with Bob, Amanda and Sophie, who treated us like royalty. Nice do to celebrate my parents sixtieth wedding anniversary. Video footage of the do
can be viewed by clicking any of the following links... clip one, clip two, clip three and clip four. Here's me and my two brothers, Bob and Andy, on Scone bowling green after I'd refereed a competition match between the two of them. Unfortunately I forgot to pack my winning streak before leaving and was narrowly beaten at bowls and pool. Think I needed longer to acclimatise to the altitude.
On returning I've not been able to find where I left that winning streak so evident before. Yet to win a squash match, and having been presented with a magnificent snooker cue for father's day by David and John they then proceeded to thrash me with my own weapon! How unfair is that!
Gearing up for my own personal Everest challenge in the jam making world... trying to turn brambles into something with the consistency more of jam than super glue. Be back to give you an update assuming I can detach my fingers from the jam jar!
Thanks for reading my blog. John

Here's another example of why too many raised beds can be a pain... it's difficult to weed when you've got netting up. (click to enlarge)
While we were away Princess Paige (aka Sleeping Beauty, or 'Sleeping' for short) tended the chickens in full battle dress.
What a result on the garlic front!
The japanese onions have performed really well, will use them again.
Fawn spotted by the roadside while in Scone, on our Stormontfield walk.
Stormontfield beach on the Tay river. One of my old teenage haunts. So nice and warm that Linda and I fell asleep for an hour!
Tigerella tomato.
Cornish Gilliflower apple.
Meadows Crane-bill.
Sleeping grass snake seen on our walk in Houghton Meadow near St Ives.
Cucumber flower.
Chicory flower.

Not sure if I'll be able to get into the greenhouse soon.
Potatoes doing well in spite of my usual trick of putting them in late and shallow.

Last year's beetroot I'm growing for seed... another project!


  1. Anonymous12:58 pm

    Great blog John. I really enjoy the info and your sense of humor!

  2. Hi Nice page.
    I produce a range of raised beds. To get the benefits they need to be 12 inches or better still 18 inches deep.
    Hope that helps.

    1. Hi James. Appreciate the guidance on raise beds. Regards, John


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