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  1. If your garden soil is poorly-drained, compacted, heavy, or takes a long time to warm up in spring, consider a raised bed - the ideal environment for growing crops.

    Buy a kit or make your own.  Kits are available from garden centres, via mail-order or from DIY shops in wood, metal or recycled plastic.  Typical prices are between £15 - £100 so it is advisable to shop around.

    raised bed

    To make your own, choose a size and shape where you can reach all parts without having to step on the soil, then use lengths of tanalised wood from a DIY supplier or sleepers to form the sides. 
    Use ground stakes, screwed in, and placed regularly along the sides and in the corners to prevent sideways movement.  
    Fill with a mixture of soil, compost, soil improver and grit to assist drainage.  Allow for some settling (you may need to come back later and top it up) and for watering with a ‘lip’ of an inch or so all round.

    Alternatively, use pallet extensions filled in with compost and soil as a temporary raised bed.

    Finally, plant up and enjoy!

     

    Benefits of raised beds include:

    •  Basic weed and pest control are easy
    •  Excess water drains away quickly
    •  They can be built up with sides as tall or as short as required.
    •  Frames for covers – polythene, netting, fleece etc – are easy to make and remove
    •  Soil warms up quickly in spring, allowing planting earlier than usual
    •  The soil doesn’t compact as easily as in open ground because there is no need to walk on it.  Therefore water, air and nutrients are more accessible to plant roots.