Get a Flying Start This Spring with Raised Beds and Planters
The ‘Beast from the East’ has headed west and spring is warming both the north and the south. And it’s raised beds and containers that allow gardeners across the UK to get ahead of the game. Both can help with earlier sowing and planting and are easy to protect if any cold weather dares to head back. Get the best from your beds and pots by following a few guidelines.
First up, your raised beds. If they are newly constructed, ensure that all your fixings are tightened as recent weather and general movement of wood, and even plastic, can result in screws and nails coming loose. Have you lined your raised beds with empty compost sacks (folded inside out so the black part is showing into the bed)? If not, do it, as it will protect the bed from water.
Now this bit is vital to the success of your raised beds. Have you allowed enough time for the soil in the beds to settle? Fluffy soil contains lots of air gaps, and roots don’t generally grow across canyons of space. Tamp down soil with the back of a rake to get the correct levels. The other problem with un-firmed soil is that you plant to a certain level and then, over the next few weeks, that level will settle, often leaving your seedlings at a wonky angle or, even worse, with roots exposed. I’m not suggesting you get the heavy roller out - just firm things down a little. Walking on the actual soil will be unnecessary as your beds can be worked from the edges.
Existing raised beds may actually need a little top up of organic matter to bring up levels. Soil settles over time, even in raised beds, so a few centimetres of homemade compost or organic mulch will see things right. If buying in, do get the calculator out as even two centimetres over a large raised bed can add up to a large volume. You do the maths!
Containers are increasingly popular and, to be honest, anything will grow in a suitable pot. Start off the season with clean containers by washing them out with warm soapy water. Allow to dry before use. It just makes filling them with compost a more enjoyable job. If you need new containers then I’d advise to get them in early. Containers sell out and there is nothing more irritating than having a few plug plants to pot up and no container to put them in. You can never have enough containers.
Avoid using any cracked or flaky terracotta pots as these will let you down in the season. Gently break these up to use as crocks for the base of your other containers. If, however, that cracked plant pot is your absolute favourite cracked plant pot and you promise that it won’t get slung around the garden during the upcoming seasons, you can have a go at repair. A drop or two of epoxy glue will soon see if the job is worthwhile.
It’s common sense that large pots are a) heavy and b) even heavier when filled with compost and plants. Place such pots in their positions before planting up. It also gives you a chance to assess whether or not they are going to look good all year.
Existing pots do tend to accumulate debris around the base. This can impede drainage. Carefully lift pots, clean around and place back down. You will find woodlice and other critters - you have been warned.
And that’s all you need to do to ensure you get off to a flying start with your raised beds and containers this spring. Before you head off into the garden, please take a moment to browse through Shedstore's fantastic range of raised beds.