People who know me and my gardening habits seem a bit surprised, but I have finally boarded the grow-your-own bus. Until now I have always resented putting aside any of my limited border space for fruit or veg, in favour of all the perennials, shrubs and bulbs I love, but the remorseless media onslaught pushing this productive side of gardening has ground me down. When you work on a magazine there is simply no escaping it and, anyhow, I decided I needed to learn more. I’m also a born miser so any chance to save money and I’m there.
The solution for me was to build a raised bed. I have, outside the back of my house, a large expanse of concrete, inherited from the previous owners. It’s not pretty, but would require a huge effort to remove – far better to cover it up somehow. Gales last year blew down some substantial wooden gates that have now been replaced, but the old timber from them – perfectly serviceable – has been put to good use to make the bed. It is not huge, just large enough for some tomatoes, a wigwam of runner beans, a few herbs, some cut-and-come-again salad leaves, and perhaps an aubergine and a few strawberries.
The fact that it is not especially deep (about 70cm) and on solid concrete worries me a little – I have added plenty of hardcore at the base for drainage and the locally-sourced topsoil I have filled it with seems pretty well drained. I will I think just avoid root crops and hope for the best. I have to admit I’m really excited!