When I decided to get raised beds for our front garden I did some online research about the best way to fill raised beds. I came across lasagna gardening, where you make lots of layers to add nutrients and to mimic the natural structure of soil, and thought that sounded like a good idea. There's lots and lots of information on lasagna gardening online! Some is very precise (add 1 inch of 'greens' to 2 inches of 'browns') and some is less so (I'm pretty sure they were joking when they said throw in a pair of old boots!), so I thought I'd show you what I did.
I bought my raised beds online, then Joe (patiently) taught me how to use a drill so I could assemble them all by myself! (nearly!)
First, I lined my raised bed. The internet is full of people saying you must line your raised bed and people saying you must not line your raised bed. I've lined mine with weed suppressant fabric that's supposed to let water through, but mostly it's to stop the soil coming out the bottom and ending up all over the drive. I punched a couple of holes in the lining so the raised beds don't end up being waterlogged.
My raised beds are 90cm by 120cm, and 30cm tall. I worked out that I needed about 325 litres to fill each bed.
I added layers of cardboard, newspapers and magazines, then watered them so they were a little damp.
Next was half a bag of bark chips, which works out as 25 litres.
I layered in the kitchen scraps from the compost caddy in the kitchen and the one from work, 2 bunches of flowers from my birthday that had gone wilty and some lettuce that was past it's best in the fridge.
I wasn't planning on putting coir compost in, but I picked up a 50 litre pack from Home Bargains for £1.79, so in it went.
Dandelion leaves, nettle leaves, buddleia and magnolia leaves went in next.
Then I put in the contents of the paper recycling basket - lots of loo rolls!
Next was a 1/3 pack of straw, I gave the whole thing a little sprinkling of water again too.
I added a 25 litre bag of top soil.
I dug some soil from the garden beds, and from under the hedge at the bottom of the garden, it's full of worms and leaves and hopefully some good microorganisms to make my new raised bed healthy. I added about 1 small trug full.
Next up I put some prunings from a wiegela bush, then a thin sprinkling of bark chips. I watered this layer too.
Lastly, I put in the 7 remaining bags of topsoil I'd bought. That's 175 litres.
And then I was finished, which I was happy about, because I was exhausted!
The total costs were £24 for 200 litres of topsoil (2 lots of special offer, 4 25 litre bags for £12 from Homebase) , £2.50 for half a 50 litre bag of bark chippings and £1.79 for a 50 litre bag of coir compost. I had everything else already, so I think this turned out to be a very cheap way to fill a raised bed!
I'm going to grow onions and garlic in my raised bed over winter, and I've been inspired for future planting schemes by reading this article about growing in small spaces in October's issue of Vegan Life Magazine. There are loads of great ideas for growing in square meter beds, that would be perfect for raised beds too!
Image c/o Vegan Life Magazine.
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