Progress in the raised bed vegetable garden

Here in the South East of England we had the pleasure of heavy rain followed by bright prolonged sunshine, which has led to a doubling in size of the vegetable plants. We are delighted that almost* everything is looking strong, green, and in some cases such as runner beans and courgettes, even flowering.


The final raised bed plant count from left to right, top to bottom, is:
2 Elephant garlic
30 Hercules onions
5 each of 6 varieties of potatoes*
6 Calabrese broccoli
2 rows of Tender and True parsnips
21 heads of Red Iceberg lettuce
4 Verde di Italia early courgette
8 runner beans
3 rows of Long de Meziers leeks
2 rows of Giant Red carrots (which will actually be orange)
30 full white celery (which sadly are very green so far)
12 Ashworth sweetcorn
4 Waltham butternut squash
4 Summer Crookneck squash

*Two Charlotte potatoes suddenly keeled over and died. We are worried this will spread, but so far fingers crossed it is an isolated incident. We are expecting some losses overall, but I hope we don’t lose the whole lot of potatoes.


We have also rather retentively started a spreadsheet to calculate the economics of growing your own. This is not to prove that it is cheaper, because certainly this year it will not be! But it will provide an economist like me a little insight year over year into the monetary cost of our home produce. Now the time cost is another study altogether…

So far, the list has two strawberries. I will post the results in winter.


17 responses to “Progress in the raised bed vegetable garden

  1. I can now see a brilliant new use of school veg gardens as a outdoor maths classroom. I am hovering somewhere between admiration of your methodical and sensible study of the economics and a desire to scream ‘get out more!’.

    I shall await the results with interest

  2. themoderngardener

    You are so right, and do you know, it is only putting it up here that will hopefully keep me from being lazy and quitting half way through.

  3. It is so neat and clean and right angled. I am in awe.

  4. such a pretty garden — how much space is left between the beds?

    • themoderngardener

      Lori, thanks. We left about 50 cm (20 inches), and one central path that’s hard to see in the photos that is about a metre.

  5. i think i am too portly/uncoordinated to work in those narrow paths! ;^)

  6. Thank you for visiting my blog.
    What a great veg patch you have. I love your raised beds, and everything looks so organised.
    I will be popping back to catch up with your progress.

  7. looks wonderful!

  8. Wonderful and so inspirational!

  9. Lisa Mulholland

    Hi – What size are your raised beds? Do you find this adequate

    • Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by. The key to determining the size of your raised beds really depends on your reach! My husband and I are both tall and have a decent reach, so the size of our raised beds is about 1.5m square.

      I recommend thinking about how you garden (sow, weed, water) and how far you can comfortably reach doing those tasks. That will determine the middle point of your bed. I imagine 1.2m wide by as much as 3m long would be and average workable size — any longer and it becomes a task to walk around the bed. Good luck!

  10. Following up on my promise on this page, I have posted about the economics of vegetable growing here:

  11. You need to blanch those celery when they are full and ready to get rid of the green. Basically you put them in darkness. ie hoophouse with a blanket over, paper bags. A week or two, this will make them less fibrous also.

  12. How did you determine depth of soil requirement? Do you vary PH by individual box/crop? Did you use a weed cloth barrier under the boxes? How do you irrigate (drip? spray?) Have you found what appear to be 1X2 or 2×4 corner posts and reinforcement adequate or would you recommend a 4 x 4? I’m planting blueberry bushes in pine fines using drip irrigation tied into a special zone of my yard sprinkler system, and my boxes are mainly to hold in the pine fines from floating away in our FL rains. I’m using cedar and don’t know if I should seal it to increase durability or not — difficult to find non-toxic sealers in FL. So far economics of blueberries are so far off the charts that wife won’t let me try anything else!!! (about a $1 per berry after 1 year – ouch) Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Hi Tom, wow you sound like an engineer! Our boxes are more like 4 sides plonked onto tilled earth, with the soil improved every year based on the crop rotation and what we are planning on planting within. We used untreated wood to avoid chemicals, and we haven’t used weed barrier – although I am determined to do so between the beds this year. We don’t bother tracking PH, as we have found that a bit of knowledge on each crop is enough to give us a decent yield. Irrigation is probably more of a problem for you than for us over here in England, with the exception of July/August. We use water butts to feel environmentally friendly, and a garden hose during the parched months, but have discussed an irrigation system although as you say, the costs spiral. Good luck!

  13. you have a very organized garden. Great photos.

  14. Hi, great looking plot. I’m just changing my garden to grow some fruit and veg and plan on using raised beds. Can you tell me what size wood you used (looks like 8X2). Do you find it sufficient and has it lasted ok, I was thinking about sleepers but I do have a tendency to go over kill. Also is there any reason why the soil level is low or do you just intend to build up over the years.

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