Saturday, 16 April 2016

Sleeper raised beds

I don't normally resort to writing lists of jobs to be done but we have so much that needs doing outside that I've had to list them all so that we can prioritise - often it seems that the one job we want to do cannot be done before another is completed to clear the way.

Filling these new raised beds is a case in point. The raised parts are finally finished mostly (the temporary ends need something more permanent) and so they needed filling. Some of it was filled months ago but then it got left as I pondered on all the other jobs that were piling up - a mistake I promised myself we wouldn't make this year.
I have to say there is great satisfaction in finally seeing the raised beds completed and filled with lovely top soil and compost.  We bought the topsoil in last year (or the year before, I forget) but the compost is all free of charge.

Mr TG collected several Hippo bags filled with all the plant material and spent compost from a local department store. Usually they would pay a firm to come in and haul away the bags but I was asked by an employee as to whether they were any good to me. So late last year hubby collected the bags on his trailer and bought them home - with a police escort as it turned out he was littering the entire 15 miles home, oops! I then covered the tops of the bags to allow the contents to rot down over the winter.

These bags contain a huge amount of material and it was pleasant to see that the contents had actually managed to rot down  over winter despite the cold, I was concerned that they wouldn't heat up enough to do so.

We have used this type of compost once before and I had forgotten just how back breaking the work is. Ordinarily I think a person could do this and not suffer any pain but for some reason 5 minutes of this and my back feels like it is broken and I have to rest.
There is a system to this stuff though. I cannot empty it directly onto the beds because the contents not only contain the rotted plant material and spent compost but ID labels get chucked in, sticks go in, cane toppers go in, plant rings are in there and even the odd pot has been thrown in.
This is the current sytem:
  • 3 to 4 shovel fulls go into the barrow. This then has to be hand sifted to remove all the plants that haven't rotted which go straight into the trailer, all the non degradeable stuff goes into a bucket for disposal and all the small weeds etc go into another bucket which again then goes into the trailer. Once the trailer is full I hook it up to the quadbike and it is then driven down the land where the plant material can be shovelled out to rot down.
It's the being bent over the barrow that actually cause the back pain.

This is what a full barrow looks like and each Hippo bag gets us at least 5 of these.

This is one part of the filled raised bed. It's approx 2ft in height so has used alot of top soil and compost.
Excuse the boarding to the left, this is going to be removed as Mr TG builds a wall there to protect the garden from the northerly winds that funnel down here. This means though that the plants I put in the raised bed will all be facing south and in full sun all day - insert smiley face.
These raised beds are to house shrubs to form another windbreak until the wall is built but also to add height and enclose the open garden a little.
I'm not 100% certain of the plant combination but I have alot of Hebe,large hardy Fuschia, Viburnums and Hydranges - this is a large area to fill and will frame the new patio we are going to lay.
Just in front of the raised beds we are adding another line of sleepers to create another smaller raised bed so that we can plant Day Lillies, Crocosmia and Iris.
The back larger raised beds will also contain honeysuckle and climbing roses to mask the aviary which is out of shot of the picture.