I’ve finally received my raised bed from Harrod Horticultural! There were 3 parts to the delivery and I received 2 parts on Friday 15th May, which were the boards and the corner links and one 1 metre dowel, but the other 2 metre dowel didn’t arrive until Monday 18th May. I went away for the weekend so I couldn’t have put it together anyway, but I would have preferred if the whole lot had been delivered altogether just for peace of mind!
The kit I ordered is called the Children’s Link-A-Bord kit and it costs £29.95 but I used a 10% discount code so I got it cheaper. I chose this kit because it measures 1 metre wide x 0.5 metre deep, so it fits really well in the space we have on the patio. Harrod Horticultural also sell a kit which is exactly the same size as the one I bought (product code GDN-749), but they are charging £30.40 for it, so I saved a few pennies getting the Children’s one!
I was going to buy my kit directly from www.linkabord.co.uk but they don’t have this sized kit, although you can order parts separately but that worked out more expensive.
Anyway, as you can see from the photo I’ve managed to put it together. The boards and the corner links fitted together quite easily, but I had a bit of trouble getting the dowels through the holes as this kit is 2 raised beds stacked on top of each other. I cut the dowels with a hacksaw which was easy and I left them longer than the depth of the bed as I thought I might need to tie things onto them, like a cover or net.
The seedlings need to acclimatise for a week before I plant them outside permanently, so I’ll leave them in the empty bed during the day and bring them in at night. The weather is really unsettled at the moment and it’s very windy, so the bed is offering some protection.
As the bed has no base, when I put the soil in I will be putting it directly onto the patio as it’s just concrete. I did check with the Link-a-Bord customer services and they said this was fine to do. Obviously I’ll put some broken crocks at the bottom for drainage and I’ve got 2 bags of multi-purpose compost at 40 litres each, so that should fill it up. I’m still debating about whether to buy some Miracle-Gro Fruit and Vegetable Feed to mix in with the compost before I put my plants in. There’s probably enough nutrients in the compost, so I’ll probably just put some feed on once the fruits appear on the plants.
The plants have been outside during the day and brought in at night all week, getting ready to be planted in the raised bed permanently.
- I bought some copper tape to deter the slugs from B&Q. It cost £4.98 for 4 metres so I had plenty to go all the way around. Apparently copper gives slugs and snails a little electric shock, so they steer clear of it. I wanted to use this instead of slug pellets as I’m growing veggies and want to keep it as free from chemicals as possible. It was really easy to use as you just peel off the backing paper and stick on the copper layer. It’s very thin and it’s a bit like that gold leaf that you put on poncey cakes/desserts!
- I chucked in some crocks for drainage, it was a total guess if this would be enough! I used a pot that had been smashed by the bloke who lives across the road, as he lost control of his car and drove straight into the pot which was on the front doorstep! Lucky he didn’t go through the front door! Idiot!
- I really thought 2 bags of 40 litre compost would be enough to fill the bed! Oh how wrong I was! Photo 3 shows the bed after I’d put only 1 bag of compost in – not even half full!
- So I did a quick search on Google and read that the bed should be filled a couple of inches from the top. I also read a mixture of compost and soil would be OK so I went around the garden and collected about 6-7 buckets of soil. It had loads of stones and other stuff like dead leaves, but I guessed this would be good for drainage and possibly nutrients (I’m such an amateur!). So I mixed the soil in with the other bag of compost and managed to fill the bed up just over half full.
If I’d used my brain I would have easily realised that 2 bags of compost wasn’t enough! If I’d stacked the bags on top of each other inside the empty bed then I would have seen how much of the bed they would have filled. So I think you need at least 5 bags of compost (40 litres) to fill the bed, which could work out quite expensive!
I bought a 1kg bag of Slow Release Plant Food from Wilkinsons, so I put in about a quarter of the bag and mixed it into the soil and compost.
So I’ll be planting my seedlings out over the weekend, which will hopefully make them happier as they’re looking a bit droopy right now!
Steve’s Mum kindly let me use a bag of compost she’d bought, so the raised bed is a bit fuller now. I’d watered the soil/compost the day before, so I thought it would be OK to plant everything today.
As you can see from the lovely photo I took (and decorated in Photoshop, isn’t it colourful!) I’ve tried to space things out so the plants have room to grow.
I grew almost everything from seed in peat pots, but I took almost all the seedlings out of the peat pots as I planted them in the bed to give the roots more freedom. The butternut squash were planted still in their peat pots as their roots had grown right through the peat pots.
- TOMATOES: I read they needed to be 45cm apart, but I’ve also bought a grow bag and I just used the same spacing as marked out on the grow bag. So I’ve put 3 plants at the back of the bed and I’ll put 3 more in the grow bag.
- BASIL: I read the tomatoes like to be grown near basil as it improves the flavour, so I’ve planted some in between each tomato plant.
- BUTTERNUT SQUASH: These needed to be 100cm apart, but as my bed is only 100cm long I decided I’d try and put one plant at each end and hope for the best! They apparently grow quite big so I’ve left quite a bit of space around them, but I’m hoping they won’t take over the whole bed. I’ve also planted another plant in a big pot 11 inches in diameter.
- BEETROOT: These needed to be about 2cm apart, so I planted the 6 seedlings in 2 short rows. I didn’t plant them very deep, only about 2.5cm.
- CARROTS: I sprinkled the seeds straight into a 1cm deep trench and covered lightly with compost, then watered. Hopefully these will sprout!
- ONIONS: Steve’s sister gave me some onion sets as she had loads leftover, so I’ve planted 3 in a row as they need to be about 10cm apart.
- LETTUCE: The lettuce has been growing but it’s never looked healthy and I’m really hoping it will do better in the bed. I’ve also put some in a deeper pot as I think the ice cream tub I sowed the seeds in was too shallow.
- PEPPER: When I went to Wilkinson’s I couldn’t resist buying a Pepper plant as it was reduced to 75p! It was already quite established so hopefully it will bear some lovely peppers.
As you can see from the above photo, I’ve put some green plastic things (they came with some plants Steve’s mum bought)over the plants to protect them from cats and squirrels. I’m also hoping I can train the butternut squash to grow around them in a circle. I’ve also used an empty plastic tray to cover some of the beetroots that weren’t growing too well.
Something dug a big hole where my carrots were! We suspect it was a squirrel as they’re always digging things up in the garden and I saw one nearby when I found the hole – pesky thing! So I’ve put chicken wire over the plants to protect them as that seems quite effective. You can buy something similar from Harrod Horticultural called Rabbit Wire.
This is the cover I made from a Medium Plant Fleece Jacket, which I’d bought from Harrod Horticultural last Winter. I just cut it so that it was one flat piece of fabric. As it was a drawstring bag I just put a cane through where the string had been on both ends and then staked each cane at opposite ends of the bed. I pull the cover down when it’s too hot and I don’t want the plants to get too much sun.
You can see the progress of all my plants on these pages: