The National Vegetable Society (NVS) Bucks District Association meeting last week, on 28th October 2014, was “Raised Beds – Would they make it easier for you to grow better vegetables” by Barry Newman.

Barry Newman, a former Chairman of the NVS, is a well-known grower, exhibitor, lecturer and judge. He was formally trained in horticulture at Pershore, York and Bath and is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society's Fruit, Vegetable and Herb Committee.


The talk was very informative and here are a few of the key points from the talk:

Advantages & Disadvantages of Raised Beds

There are lots of advantages of growing vegetables in raised beds:

-          You can successfully grow veg on any soil

-          You can use quality infill material

-          There’s no digging once the raised beds are built

-          Good drainage

-          The soil warms quickly

-          Easy reach from all sides

-          Easier to get organised with your crop rotation

There are some disadvantages:

-          More watering in dry periods

-          Some crops are less suitable for small beds

-          You need to invest in materials to make the raised beds and paths

Building materials for Raised Beds and Paths

Raised beds can be made from various materials including railway sleepers, old builders scaffold planks, bricks, concrete posts & gravel boards (supercrete) and can be built at various heights to suit your particular requirements. Barry himself uses concrete posts & gravel boards made from supercrete – much lighter than concrete.

You’ll also need to think about what to do with your paths between the raised beds – best to avoid grass! Bark is a good option, as the slugs & snails don’t like it or the cheaper option is to go for wood chippings – try to get these in winter so they don’t have leaves attached!

The recommended width for raised beds is 4ft / 122cm, with access from both sides. This allows you to reach across the raised bed without standing on it – you can then have the raised bed any length you like!



Your raised beds will need preparing in spring and autumn. Best to fill them initially, with a ration of soil:compost of 60:40 and then you’ll need to top up the beds each 6 months or so with additional compost / manure or just more soil. The other thing that it’s worth doing in winter, if you’ve got wooden raised beds, is to move the soil away from the wood.

Depending on the materials used for the paths around the raised beds, regular maintenance is likely to be needed. If you use bark or chippings, then this will need to be topped up every 2-3 years.

Other Information Sources:

There are lots of other sources of information on using raised beds for growing vegetables – here are a couple for you:

The RHS has lots of info on its website about raised beds

The National Vegetable Society has lots of info on growing veg and an Article by Mick Poultney on raised beds & “no dig”


19:11, 01 Nov 2014 by Deleted User