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    • Niv
    • By Niv 7th Feb 18, 2:47 PM
    • 1,609Posts
    • 1,387Thanks
    Raised veg bed
    • #1
    • 7th Feb 18, 2:47 PM
    Raised veg bed 7th Feb 18 at 2:47 PM
    I am going to be installing raised veg beds at the back end of my garden and am indecisive regarding the material to use.

    I did think about breeze blocks but have gone off the idea as I have read they can leech and I think the time to install would be too much.

    I have sort of settled on wood but cant decide on wooden gravel boards or decking or something else.

    Current thinking is gravel boards are quite cheap but fairly hard wearing so would last a good few years before needing replacement.

    What have you used / would you recommend?

    Target: Mortgage free by 58.
Page 1
    • unrecordings
    • By unrecordings 7th Feb 18, 4:40 PM
    • 297 Posts
    • 383 Thanks
    • #2
    • 7th Feb 18, 4:40 PM
    • #2
    • 7th Feb 18, 4:40 PM
    Old scaffolding boards (or 'scaff' boards) - they're usually pretty cheap and most large scaffolding companies will sell off the boards that are no longer safe as actual scaffolding. Some may even cut to size & deliver (?). I also got hold of some 2' site pegs to use on the corners
    • phoebe1989seb
    • By phoebe1989seb 7th Feb 18, 6:54 PM
    • 3,242 Posts
    • 6,645 Thanks
    • #3
    • 7th Feb 18, 6:54 PM
    • #3
    • 7th Feb 18, 6:54 PM
    At our last-but-one house we used new railway sleepers - the ones that have never seen a railway or creosote, lol! We built the veg beds two sleepers high as they were on a terraced area that had previously been tarmaced, so needed depth for soil/roots.

    This looked lovely (imho ), but certainly wasn't very MSE as the sleepers were fairly expensive.

    Will probably do the same at our next house if we ever get it!
    Paid off mortgage early - mortgage-free for ten years!

    Over 40,000 mis-sold PPI reclaimed
    • unrecordings
    • By unrecordings 7th Feb 18, 7:56 PM
    • 297 Posts
    • 383 Thanks
    • #4
    • 7th Feb 18, 7:56 PM
    • #4
    • 7th Feb 18, 7:56 PM
    A word on used railway sleepers, according to M-Track they will not sell standard sleepers to you if you even mention using them for vegetable beds because of the nasty stuff that gets sprayed on them. Crossing timbers (Jarrah I think) are apparently okay and free from nasties

    Edit: Just remembering from when I enquired, they (M-Track) generally ran out of stock of the crossing timbers by late spring
    Last edited by unrecordings; 07-02-2018 at 7:59 PM.
    • safestored4
    • By safestored4 7th Feb 18, 10:20 PM
    • 433 Posts
    • 404 Thanks
    • #5
    • 7th Feb 18, 10:20 PM
    • #5
    • 7th Feb 18, 10:20 PM
    At my allotment there are 15 raised beds and I just use whatever is available for edgings be it timber or bricks. At home I made raised beds 11 years ago from tanalised timber bought from the local timber merchant.These are showing no sign of decay and look as though they will last another 10 years or more. It is often claimed that the use of treated wood has a detrimental effect upon the soil or crops but I cant say that I have found this to be the case.
    • vacheron
    • By vacheron 8th Feb 18, 7:29 AM
    • 831 Posts
    • 764 Thanks
    • #6
    • 8th Feb 18, 7:29 AM
    • #6
    • 8th Feb 18, 7:29 AM
    We have three in our back garden and we used decking boards. They are relatively cheap and the grooved pattern looks nice. They also aren't too thick so they don't reduce the internal volume too much.
    We use The 2.4 meter boards and cut some in half to make 2.4x1.2m beds which are the ideal size for us

    We've lined the inside walls with thick plastic (non bio-degradable rubble sacks work well), so they aren't kept permanently damp by the soil inside and then use a permeable membrane for the base.

    If you have heavy clay soil like us and need to purchase some good topsoil for them I can highly recommend the "vegegrow" topsoil from Dandys. The things we planted in that turned out literally twice the size of the one we filled with standard topsoil.
    Last edited by vacheron; 08-02-2018 at 7:37 AM.
    The rich buy assets.
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    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 8th Feb 18, 7:40 AM
    • 25,306 Posts
    • 93,057 Thanks
    • #7
    • 8th Feb 18, 7:40 AM
    • #7
    • 8th Feb 18, 7:40 AM
    Treated timber nowadays is different from the old stuff based on arsenic compounds and should be fine for all but the most risk-averse vegetable gardeners, many of whom possibly have worse things in their soil already.

    I have treated 150 x 25mm boards here, which are at least 10 years old and still giving good service, but like everything else, where they came from probably has much to do with that. It wasn't Wickes!

    At my last house, with Roman occupational soil, I built raised beds with concrete blocks and stone. Never gave a thought top leaching of chemicals, but then those Romans had a glassworks nearby and probably used all kinds of nasties!
    If you are finding huge gaps between your paragraphs and use Firefox, MSE know about the problem. However, they aren't necessarily doing anything about it yet....
    • bertiewhite
    • By bertiewhite 8th Feb 18, 7:58 AM
    • 1,109 Posts
    • 1,221 Thanks
    • #8
    • 8th Feb 18, 7:58 AM
    • #8
    • 8th Feb 18, 7:58 AM
    I used gravel boards attached to stakes driven into the ground.

    I also used large pieces of slate for a smaller herb patch but I do live in Wales where slate is abundant.
    • malebolge
    • By malebolge 8th Feb 18, 12:08 PM
    • 447 Posts
    • 792 Thanks
    • #9
    • 8th Feb 18, 12:08 PM
    • #9
    • 8th Feb 18, 12:08 PM
    I grow all my flowers/veg in raised beds as I'm in a wheelchair. My late husband built them years ago using broken paving stones bought from the council - that was the cheapest option and they've lasted 20+ years. We put ordinary garden soil in them (it was very good soil) and I treat the soil just as I would do if I was gardening in the ground - mulch in autumn and again round about April. I've got some ericaceous beds and I use ericaceous plant food on them. Since he passed, I've not grown as much veg, but last year I grew potatoes, bulb shaped carrots, beetroot, various salad stuff (lettuce, radish, spring onions etc.) garlic and herbs, as well as having asparagus and soft fruit beds. I've loads of beds - he didn't build them all at once; rather we added onto them over the years. Never had any problems with them at all.
    • tommytucker7182
    • By tommytucker7182 8th Feb 18, 10:05 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 5 Thanks
    Raised beds info - my knowledge.
    Hey guys, im new to MSE,
    Im finishing my raised beds myself at the moment.
    If i had to do it again i would use a good hardwood. I actually bought pine (softwood) - size 9x1 3/4 inches (thats 225mm x 45mm in new money). Size was 4.8m lengths - easy to cut in half for length of boards, or into 1/4 lengths for sort side of my 1.2m x 2.4m long beds. My corner stakes are 2x2 inch (50x50mm). I use stainless screws to tie together. Im making sure not to ruin the POZI (starhead shape) screw head - the screws will be able to be reused as they will not rust or rot.
    The timber is smooth planed. This was a mistake really as the paint im using to preserve will only absorb into rough planed timber.
    I researched for a long long time about what to use to preserve. I was about to purchase linseed oil, but i didnt like how it can catch fire if not worked properly (rags left in a heap can result in oxidation - i think).
    So i have bought and am using "cuprinol ducksback" - i emailed cuprinol and it is "minimal" rated for VOC's. VOCs are volatile organic compounds - all the bad hydrocarbons and heavy metals and deadly stuff that i dont want anywhere near my veggie beds.
    Ducksback has 0-0.3% VOC content - this is as low as i can find. It has a cold wax and its water repellent, but may require three coats for optimum performance. I have one bed installed, and i dont think i let it dry for long enough. Of the section that is dry... the water does run off like a ducks back.

    Lastly old timber boards were tanalised (as are newer ones), but older timber was treated with tanalising that contained copper arsenic - not great for growing stuff. It has been removed from the tanalising process and i believe newer timbers are "tanalith-E" grade tanalising - which has no copper arsenic, but newer timber may not last as long. A trade off!

    Another thing id like to point out, even if old timber sleepers HAVE leeched all their "bad stuff" into the old soil where they lay, who can tell what the older boards may yet do to the soil microorganisms that make soil such a rich nutrient resource. Seems to be where agriculture has went wrong so many times in the past to forget about the full effects on a product on an ecosystem, and not just on desired result for their specific plants, species etc.

    Lastly - dont bother with plastic lining. Lining with plastic is just ensuring that water will stay tight to the board, which is the same result as soil sitting tight to it. Save yourself the expense and the bother.
    I hope this helps!
    • Niv
    • By Niv 8th Feb 18, 10:58 PM
    • 1,609 Posts
    • 1,387 Thanks
    Thanks guys. Very useful. I feel much more confident with my raised bed project now.

    Target: Mortgage free by 58.
    • Misslayed
    • By Misslayed 9th Feb 18, 4:27 PM
    • 4,544 Posts
    • 22,941 Thanks
    Not in the slightest bit money saving, but I really yearn for some of those 'blox' which are like giant Danish building bricks, as my arthritis makes it ever harder to weed my flower beds. They have just the look I'd like and look easy to construct. Has anybody else used them?
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    • Richmc
    • By Richmc 10th Feb 18, 8:26 AM
    • 72 Posts
    • 41 Thanks
    There's only one logical material, used scaffolding boards, when I had my solar installed I bought 12 from the guys for 60, six quid each! Every thing else is going to be X more.
    I used Creocoat on the outsides and left the insides as they were.
    Most scaf companies are glad to get rid of them, easy to cut with a circular saw. Three boards will make two raised beds, cut two in half and one in four. So with my 12 boards I've made eight beds.
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