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Anyone built raised beds?

(14 Posts)
msrisotto Mon 02-Jan-17 20:00:57

Hello green fingered ones! I'm not especially knowledgable or experienced in things gardening but I like flowers and stuff and find a bit of gardening a nice way to enjoy the outdoors in summer.

And i'm a keen cook so I have decided that I would like a proper herb garden. In front of my kitchen I have a fairly unattractive hedge/bush which i'm thinking of digging out and replacing with a raised bed. Our back garden came with railway sleeper raised beds when we moved in so I intend to continue the theme.

Any advice about this process? Acquiring sleepers (cutting them to size??), which herbs come up every year? The RHS website on herb gardens tells me I can grow Basil but i've tried and failed spectacularly before. Obviously I can't plant anything yet but I can plan and prepare.

bookbook Tue 03-Jan-17 07:33:33

oh, am in a bit of a rush , so will come back later .
Herbs for growing in the garden
but basil is not an outdoor herb here ( I'm assuming Uk?) apart from height of summer - it needs to be warm smile

jessplussomeonenew Tue 03-Jan-17 07:50:47

What herbs do you use? There's no point planting something you wouldn't ever pick. Thyme is really useful, garlic chives, bay - but I don't use sage and rosemary much so they're a bit pointless for me. Basil mint gives you a bit of basil flavour in a hardy form but is best kept in a pot or it will go everywhere.

ChuckSnowballs Tue 03-Jan-17 07:56:38

You can get railway sleepers and half length sleepers from Wickes. They are very heavy but they will deliver.

Some herbs are Mediterranean and love the heat but are perennials so come back every year and they like soil with very good drainage eg thyme, rosemary, sage - they will grow well as long as they do not have wet roots. These often do not lose their leaves and you can use them all year round.

Some like good hearty soil, eg chives, oregano, and will also come back but aren't too fussy about the dry soil aspect. Oregano makes a good flower for the bees but be aware if you let it set seed it will seed itself everywhere. Ditto Marjoram which is Oregano but just a slight difference in taste.

Some like mint, are actually water lovers, but will send out shoots underground and try to take over whatever patch you give them, so are best grown either in beds of their own, or plant the mint in a large pot, with holes in, and bury the whole pot in the soil to contain the roots if you want it in a mixed bed.

Some like parsley, including the flat leaved type, are biennials so will try to flower in year two but will stay in leaf all winter long so I always sow a new batch in the spring leaving lots in the garden each winter.

Basil, Coriander and Dill, are hot weather herbs and quite difficult to grow from seed. During the 7 years of teaching organic horticulture, although I did grow quite a few good crops, my best ones were to buy a basil plant at the supermarket, and take cuttings and plant those out after the last frost date. Dill will bolt like crazy so you have to keep chopping it back. Same with Coriander, but there are two types - coriander is grown for the seeds but cilantro is grown for the leaves so if you want it to go to seed slightly less, buy Cilantro or Leaf coriander seeds or plants. Again I have kept coriander going from supermarket plants for months, much easier than growing from seed.

I would like to offer up as well, getting some Garlic chives; these are flat chives, which taste of garlic. Which means you can get a good garlic taste for cooking; without having to wait each year for your garlic crop which can be hit and miss.

Also, Lemon Verbena, which is a perennial [it does lose it's leaves in winter] and has the most divine scented leaves. Chamomile is a great short herb which can go under the taller sages or rosemary. And Fennel - you have to have a fennel just for the glorious scent and you can leave it to flower for the bees and use the seeds in cooking.

Also to make use of the space, as the annual herbs die off each year, fill the gaps with some leeks which will grow all winter, and be harvested before you put next year's tender herbs out.

bookbook Tue 03-Jan-17 09:36:18

oh good - someone with far more knowledge arrived!

msrisotto Tue 03-Jan-17 19:39:00

Wow fab advice everyone, thank you!

Yes i'm in the UK which is probably why the basil died!

I want to plant herbs that will survive year on year so for that reason do I rule Basil and Parsley out? Other than those, the herbs I use the most are Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage. I love the sound of garlic chives too but not sure how much space I need to leave each plant to grow into?

Also, growing chamomile under (do you mean just in front?) sage or rosemary sounds great, but I don't really understand how that works - won't they battle each other for soil nutrients and sun?

msrisotto Tue 03-Jan-17 19:44:46

Chives might be good too.

bookbook Tue 03-Jan-17 20:51:42

I too am an avid cook, so virtually every day I pop out to pick smile
I forgot bay of course - but mine is in a very large tub, that can be wheeled under some protection in winter . I grow chives too - they come back every year. I have 2 rosemary bushes, as I use a lot of it , so they get picked on a rotation, so I don't kill them !
Parsley I buy as a pot plant and repot to stand outside - it usually lasts a year, longer if I am lucky,- mind you, the slugs and snails seem to have developed a real liking for it.
Basil and coriander I sow in the greenhouse every spring, they just about last all summer, then I buy those plants ( as Chuck suggested ) for over winter on my kitchen windowsill.
Mint ( I have 2 or three different ones ) I keep in pots, because they can be quite thuggish , as above smile
My sage is quite a large , sprawly plant, so not sure I could grow chamomile under it. Mind you, I should grow it - my DH has a cup of chamomile tea every evening smile
I am going to give garlic chives a go now, Chuck gives such good ideas along with the advice !

shovetheholly Wed 04-Jan-17 07:46:38

Yes, as chuck and book say - basil and parsley are short-lived so you will need to keep resowing if you want to grow those. Whether this is worth it depends on how often you use them and the quantities you need (if you're intending to make quantities of pesto, it can be way more economical to grow basil from seed or cuttings).

I have little to add to the excellent advice you've already had on this thread. I think starting with a sage, a rosemary, a bay, a couple of thymes, an oregano, chives and garlic chives is a great plan. I would also add lavender to that list - lovely for bees as well as for adding to sugar and making biscuits! Mint too, though DO NOT PLANT THIS IN THE GROUND because it is a horrible thug! Keep it in a pot in a shady, damp corner. The size of each plant depends on the variety you buy - sage and rosemary are much bigger than thyme on the whole. It's worth taking a bit of graph paper and plotting out what you want. (Think about colours too).

Another thing to consider: words like 'sage' and 'thyme' really describe groups of herbs, not single varieties. Therefore, to find the best variety for your garden (and this is a combination of how the plant looks and how hardy it is as well as how it tastes) you need to do a tiny bit of research.

Fortunately, there is a very good national supplier in the shape of Jekka's Herbs. They have a really good website - it's worth spending an hour or so happily browsing through. You will find that there are culinary rosemaries with blue, pink, even white flowers; that sage can be purple, grey, variegated or multicoloured; that thyme comes in dozens of varieties (it can have a hint of lemon, or lime, or orange, or coconut, or mint, or lavender; it can be gold, white or green, and it may creep along the ground or have an upright habit). Though this might sound confusing at first, it actually means there are loads of amazing tastes out there to choose from!

mousehole Mon 09-Jan-17 20:53:46

I love the oak raised beds around my greenhouse - I use them for cutting flowers which fill the house all through spring to late Autumn..My landscape gardener made them for me from plain lengths of oak.

msrisotto Mon 09-Jan-17 21:38:03

Bloody hell that looks a bit grand mouse! Extremely beautiful.

mousehole Mon 09-Jan-17 22:49:48

Oh - !! I didn't mean to look grand at all - so sorry. Also I don't actually have a landscape gardener - just a chap who did the ground works before alitex plopped the greenhouse in. The landscaping around it wasn't too difficult - he managed to get the oak at a pretty good price - and did the finials himself. All good value - I'm not v keen on railway sleepers as they are a bit rustic for me - but its personal choice of course. I love pottering in the raised beds - v therapeutic !!

shovetheholly Tue 10-Jan-17 08:36:23

It's absolutely beautiful mousehole - you must be delighted!

mousehole Tue 10-Jan-17 20:33:30

Thanks Shovetheholly - yes - very much - the garden is a passion - but the pottager part - completed a couple of years ago with the greenhouse - is fantastic for pure escapism and growing cut flowers from seeds (I'm not too bothered about veg as don't eat enough of it to make the process worthwhile so like to grow vase flowers alongside herbs and fill the house. The key with gardening I think is to not let it become a chore and unenjoyable when the exact opposite is what is needed. Life/raising children/working is stressful enough without a garden adding to it ;)

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