Monday, 9 December 2013

Raised Beds

A personal view, by Heather Horner

There seems to be much advice in the media recommending growing vegetables in raised beds. To me, that sounds like making lots of extra work for yourself, necessitating extra time
and effort watering, time and water that could be more profitably expended elsewhere. Our allotments are on well-drained clay loam

OK, the soil may not be perfect, it's hungry and needs continual application of organic matter. Being two fields away lrom the river Thames means it can get very wet when the river is high, but equally the water table is never very far below the surface, even in the driest spells. Plants left to their own devices send down deep roots and fetch their own water.

So why make raised beds and ask your vegetables to go down even further, or rely on you for
water? In some especially difficult soils, or to provide special conditions, it is an option, but
even then most soils are capable of improvement. Believe me, when you have cultivated
Leicestershire boulder clay, Eynsham allotments are gardener's heaven.

It is certainly worth get some boards.  But instead of raising beds why not use them as moveable paths to walk on.  This is important since the clay in our soil makes it prone to compaction if walked on.  This is even more true when wet.

Tony Eldridge Scaffolding in Bell Lane, Cassington, has provided boards that no longer pass health and safety checks for scaffold.  Fortunately these can last several years more on your allotment.

Recycling and saving water, not to mention time, that can't be bad.
Heather Horner

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