I sometimes refer to the plants in my garden as "software" and the structural items as "hardware". My raised beds therefore count as hardware.
I have been very conscious lately that some of my raised beds are much in need of replacement. They are made of wood, and wood being a natural product they don't last for ever. Recently I lifted out the invoice relating to the last time I replaced some of them. I found that it was dated February 2010 (which pre-dates the time when I started blogging, and therefore recording such things!) At that time I replaced 4 of my 6 main raised beds, so two of them must be even older - probably by at least a couple of years. It is hardly surprising therefore that the older ones are on their last gasp:
My garden suffers from a lack of direct sunlight, and conditions are therefore often darker, damper and cooler than I would like, which accelerates the rotting of the wood and - as you can see in many of today's photos - the growth of mosses and fungi.
The design of my raised beds is really the simplest it could possibly be, just a rectangle of wood held together by angle-brackets. The dimensions are 2.4 metres x 1 metre. The wood is "Tanalised carcassing", planks of treated softwood (Scandinavian Pine, I believe) 19mm thick and 150mm wide.
This is not good quality timber, but it's good value for money. The timber for 4 raised beds cost me about £80 (in 2010). If it has lasted 5 years, I think I've had my money's worth, even if the timber is now falling apart:
I suppose I could have put in some pegs half-way along to keep the beds more rigid (I did with the first ones I made, years ago, but the pegs rotted very quickly and I concluded they were not worth the additional effort and expense). A couple of the boards are now very bowed:
Well, I think I have made my point. Sometime soon those beds need to be replaced. These days I am not as physically able as I was, so this is a big task for me. I think I will probably do it in two phases, one this year and one next year. I have already started looking round at what is available in terms of the timber. Lots of places sell it (B and Q, Wickes, Jewson, Travis Perkins etc), but the prices vary a lot - and some places charge a lot for delivery too. Some people have suggested that I use second-hand scaffolding-boards this time. They are strong and cheap, but may be worn at the edges, and of course finding them may be tricky... Anyone know of a business that wants to get rid of some?
What I would really like of course is some more like this:
That is my "Woodblocx" bed, kindly given to me free by Woodblocx as a review item. It is very sturdy and I expect it to last a fair while, though you can see that it has already turned quite green! This is the bed in which my Carrots and Parsnips were grown this past year, and very good they have been too. I attribute the success of these crops at least partly to the good depth of soil provided by this design of bed. The only disadvantage is the cost. I think this sort of bed retails at about £300. I might be able to justify buying one, but SIX, no way!