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This week was the second of my days spent at my own allotment, with the aim of finishing the time consuming preparation of two new raised beds, to maximise my growing space for 2013.

Arriving at the plot on Friday morning I found that the local foxes had obviously had a good old romp around the new area, as my marking strings had been stoon around the place and posts knocked over (note to self: close the hole in the fence where the foxes get in!)

The beds as I found them the a week after they were prepared... I think the foxes had been having fun.

The beds as I found them the a week after they were prepared… I think the foxes had been having fun.

Step Four: laying out the edging boards

The wood for the edging of the raised beds was kindly given to me by family. Being able to reuse their unwanted wood is not only great for saving these materials from landfill but also means I don’t have to spend too much!

The reclaimed wood to be used to edge the new raised beds, very kindly donated by mine and my boyfriend's parents. Thanks Guys!

The reclaimed wood to be used to edge the new raised beds, very kindly donated by mine and my boyfriend’s parents. Thanks Guys!

Just the right amount of wood! This was very lucky / satisfying!

Just the right amount of wood! This was very lucky / satisfying!

As luck would have it, I had just the right about of wood to edge the two beds all the way around, with one piece left over which I could turn into stakes.

Step Five: Cutting and affixing stakes

To secure the edges of the beds, I chose to use roughly 5x5x30 cm stakes, which I cut out from one of the pieces of wood. This job took me a lot longer than I thought it would as I had to stop frequently to rest (I know how to saw but I don’t often do it, as my boyfriend tends to do that part of our DIY jobs : ) and surprising cutting with the grain seemed to be 10 times harder than against the grain! (I don’t remember this being the case…)

All the stakes cut, enough for each corner and a few along the sides.

All the stakes cut, enough for each corner and a few along the sides.

Stakes were screwed in at each corner and along the lengths.

Stakes were screwed in at each corner and along the lengths.

Once all the stakes were cut, they were screwed into the corners and along the edges. Once secured, the boards were then whacked into the ground with a mallet (a very satisfying job!)

The beds just off completion, with just two sides to complete.

The beds just off completion, with just two sides to complete.

Step Six: Topping up the beds

The benefits of spending the extra time to build a raised bed (as opposed to just growing into the prepared soil) is that the areas can be built up with extra compost and manure to a greater depth. With the help of my dad and his car I’ve started this process with some organic compost, farmyard manure and sand.

The finished raised beds! These are now ready for some more growing material to bring them up to height (the benefits of building up the sides in the first place).

The finished raised beds! These are now ready for some more growing material to bring them up to height (the benefits of building up the sides in the first place).

A damp and fuzzy photo of the two new beds with an extra layer of compost, manure and sand. Thanks Dad!

A damp and fuzzy photo of the two new beds with an extra layer of compost, manure and sand. Thanks Dad!

The beds could take a bit more material. Dad recommends some mushroom compost for bulk and some grit to aid drainage and help keep slugs at bay. I’ll make sure I order or source these next week, but otherwise I feel pretty happy with my new beds as i’ve added about a third more growing space to my allotment and did all the hard work myself : )

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