How to Make a No-Dig, Raised Bed

Garden’s evolve, and mine’s done exactly that over the past year. The original vegetable patch is just too shady. Meanwhile, the lawn area has become muddy with dogs and chickens. So, I’m switching them. I’ll develop a ‘poultry yard’ at the bottom of the garden, and build raised veggie beds on the lawn and add a wrap-around cutting garden.

There are many advantages of raised beds; they’re easier to manage, there are fewer pests and weeds find it harder to get the upper-hand as they can’t creep in from paths and borders. A no-dig bed is even better because you can massively reduce the amount of work you need to do. I haven’t followed Charles Dowding’s method to the book – for example, he doesn’t use wooden sides. But in a garden where dogs, chickens and other chaos is a plenty, I need something to help safeguard my little plants. As an aside, Charles has a rather wonderful downloadable PDF of sowing times for various crops – find it here.

If you want to know how I made my garden, read on. Alternatively, just watch the video at the bottom!

I’m no carpenter, but if I can knock up these raised beds, then you definitely can! To make life as easy as possible I used 1.8m long timber sawn boards to reduce the number of cuts needed. I then used the theory as laid out in The Market Gardener and made my beds 75cm wide. This is because I’ll be sowing as per Jean-Martin Fortier’s intense cropping system.  I bought a couple of 1.8m battens that were then cut down into strips to make the structure of the bed.

For one bed, you’ll need:

  • 4 x 1.8m timber sawn boards for the sides (two each side, fixed one above the other).
  • 2 x 1.8m timber sawn boards for the ends (cut 4 x 75cm lengths and fix one above the other).
  • 1 x 1.8m timber sawn battan for supports (cut this into 15cm sections. Use three on each side – one on each end to fix the boards to and an additional support in the middle).
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Saw (I just used an electric pruning saw).

Raised beds are easy to build. Use a height of two boards, cut battons to 15cm to fix the bed together and fill; then you’re done!

 

When it comes to filling your no-dig, raised bed, it’s easy. Line the based with a thick amount of cardboard to prevent weeds from beneath coming through. Now, in the proper no-dig method you want to then add piles of well rotted manure and compost. I don’t have that – I have fresh chicken poop. So, I place this layer on top of the cardboard and then fill the rest of the bed with compost. It means that by the time my veggie’s roots have crept down through the soil, the manure will have started to degrade and leach all their goodness into the surrounding soil. It’ll give my plants a great boost. In the future, add well rotted manure on top of the no dig garden. If it’s not really well rotted, wait until winter and apply if on top of the soil. The frosts and any snow will help break it down ready for planting in the spring.

Finally, fill your raised bed all the way, leaving just a small gap (around an inch). This means that if you have to water later in the year, it won’t simply run straight off. So, there you have it. An easy-to-make growing system to help boost your kitchen garden this year.

 

I’m going to start popping in some early broad beans now. Check back for more progress!

Do you use raised beds or the no-dig method? Let me know!

 

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Hi,

I'm Geoff, and I'm a plant hoarder.

Like magpies collect bright shiny things, I can't resist plants. An exquisite flower, soft ferny foliage or a beautiful majestic tree - I love them all!

Here, I'll indulge in all things flora and share my passion. Join me as I develop my garden and hoard more plants without apology.