Hints & Tips
When you're preparing your raised beds, there are a number of actions you can take to ensure the soil conditions are optimal.
Double-digging the soil beneath the raised bed is a good idea when you're beginning your project. This only needs to be done once and is much easier to do before you begin work on the beds, as Eartheasy points out.
The purpose of double-digging (digging to two spade-lengths) is to remove any rocks and debris that could impair root growth, while giving you a chance to see whether other roots are affecting the area – those from nearby trees could easily encroach on the ground beneath your planned beds.
As well as providing your plants with access to a good source of nutrients, this procedure lets you gauge the condition of the underlying soil. Once this is established, you can decide what nutrients you need to add – clayey soil, for instance, can be lightened with peat to provide aeration and improve drainage.
When you've cleared the area, you can add peat moss to lighten the soil and then lime to balance its ph, before introducing rock phosphate.
This completes the preparation process, enabling you to start work on the structure of the raised beds. Once you've assembled them, you can add soil, fertiliser and compost. This is best done within a week or two of planting.
When planting, it is advisable to orient them so that they get maximum sun exposure, with beds facing south.
One of your prime considerations should be the height of your plants when they are fully grown. You should try to ensure the taller varieties do not block the others from the available sunlight – it can sometimes be easier to grow just one type of crop per raised bed.
Although many gardeners prefer to construct raised beds during the winter, the current dry weather looks set to dominate during the coming days, meaning conditions will be good to carry out any work on raised beds.