3 years ago we were able to purchase and move to a cottage a mile from where we were living, which is the wet and windy cottage I write about, here in the Lake District. It was perfect, but had a very and I mean very small garden, so the work to expand it started. We obtained planning permission to expand the garden into the adjacent field.
The plan was to split the garding into 4. One of the sections to be a pottage. Here is the story so far.
As the whole of the lower garden was part of the field fencing all around was required, but we needed to build the raised beds for the pottage and then fill them with soil and compost before the external fence went up as access with such quantities of soil would be a problem.
We found a farmer in Keswick, north Lake District who had old railway sleepers for sale. We bought as may as we could carry… or would fit in a trailer and slowly brought them back down to the south lakes.
I had a design of 4 raised beds in a backwards L shape with a central area left empty for when I found a big pot. At the side a lower bed only 1 sleeper high but a lot larger to grow potatoes and then use as a cuttings bed and cut flower bed by way of crop rotation.
In addition a small raised bed for asparagus, one of my dream vegetables.
The 4 main beds are 2 railway sleepers high. I then filled them with stones and rubble at the bottom to aid drainage, then river sand, mixed with compost and rotten horse manure. I then put further river sand on the top with an aim of suppressing the weeds. This all took a lot of hard work and some muscle power. the Asparagus bed is again 2 sleepers high. I had been give some plants by a friend of a friend but they had lived in pots for a couple of years, so their progress may be limited. I planted them in 2 long raised beds using a lot of grit.
The long side bed is 1 railway sleeper high but 2 sleepers in length and 1 wide so a big bed which I have to step onto to reach the middle. I have therefore got a scaffold plank which I can put across and walk on so as not to damage the soil.
All of these beds will be no-dig, which means now they are filled with soil I will not put a spade into them.
The beds were finally built and filled with soil by last July, which just left enough time to throw in some vegetables and flowers so something grew in them. There was no time for planning on what went where apart from tall things on the north side of the beds so as not to cause too much shadow.
I have to say I was really pleased with them, as they are raised beds this helps with drainage and helps. I also threw in any cutting I had taken. In the picture above, at the front of the bed are some Nepeta (cat mint) cuttings which have thrived. These have now been transferred into their new home a Nepeta bed along the edge of the Pottager.
The planting was a real miss match, but it worked and things grew, what it is all about.
So this year, my aim to fill the beds even further and I might even try to have some sort of order to them… buts lets wait and see.