I'm a childminder, and DS is 6 years old so it's just a bit of fun to do with the kids. We've dug down and got a lot of earth but I'm in Torquay, so it's thick, red clay. I cant change the garden to much because it is rented but they are happy for us to have a veggie patch.
gardening and GYO-ing can be cheap but what you're doing with your raised beds is really best described as landscaping, wantanorange. If you dug down somewhere else in the garden (perhaps to create a bog garden or just some different levels) then you could get enough of your own soil to make your raised beds.
You do need to feed the soil or things won't grow well. Wormery products will be good, all your cardboard, egg boxes, shredded paper and kitchen veg waste in your compost bin of course, and tea bags and coffeegrounds.
It's not free though, and you need to be prepared for some things to fail. In my experience that's the expensive specimens!!
Growing your own can be frugal, or it can be really expensive- it depends what you grow and how you grow it. I like to save seeds from things (pumpkins, squash and tomatoes) and that's a really cheap way to grow things. Also if you get together with some friends and grow one lots of seeds each, and then swap some plants so you don't end up with hundreds of the same thing; that's a good way of doing things too.
You could see if there's a local gardening club or allotment that does plant swaps or try on freecycle. I'm always giving away strawberry plants, they go crazy in my garden.
Mine was one big bag, you know the kind they deliver bulk building materials in, sort of like a Hippo waste bag?
I have also got local recycled council compost, but not in large quantities. I would avoid soil sold from building sites as 'screened topsoil' because it may be sifted for rubble lumps but you don't know that it's been sterilized or is free of serious nasties like bindweed, JK or horsetail. Whether or not you have a receipt and any recourse to the seller, the damage is done the moment you spread it on your garden. That isn't from experience though, just warnings from garden magazines.
We got topsoil from a skip company - 8 tonnes of it in a skip for £115 iirc. Compost for the borders etc came from our local tip as in this area the food and green waste is industrially composted and was much cheaper than alternatives
If you take up the turf and lay it upside down on the place where your raised bed will be it forms a good water retaining layer to start with.
I bought topsoil for relaying a lawn and soil improver for veg beds from 'thecompostshop' online. It was delivered in a cubic metre bag to the kerb outside my house and was about £80-100 for a ton. That's 17 wheelbarrow loads by the way.
ooo how exciting. We're in a rented house with an average garden. It's going to use up about a quarter of the playing space but it's something the DS will really enjoy so it's worth it. I'm a childminder so it's a great thing to do with the little ones too. Just hope 4 month old DD is happy to sit and watch.
DS and I are making a veg patch in our garden. It's going to be about 3x1m It's currently a lawn so will need to be dug up. Do I need to put some topsoil down, how much and where is the cheapest place to get this? I dont have a car so need to order online.