How to make a vegetable bed

A small, narrow veggie bed isn’t nearly as daunting as a large vegetable plot. Packed full, it can be amazingly productive and an attractive garden feature in its own right.

How to make a vegetable bed

A small, narrow veggie bed isn’t nearly as daunting as a large vegetable plot. Packed full, it can be amazingly productive and an attractive garden feature in its own right. Crops that grow in containers will usually do equally well – if not better – in a bed. Good value for space and taste are:

  • All sorts of salads, pea shoots and edible pods
  • Baby root crops such as beetroot and carrots, or long tapering shallots
  • Short-lived leafy herbs, such as parsley, chervil, dill and coriander

You will need
All the tools you should need are a trowel, small ‘border’ fork, hoe, and a watering can with a ‘rose’. To set up the bed, you’ll need a garden spade and fork, and carpentry tools if you are edging it with wood.

Where to put it
Choose a sunny, sheltered spot. You could convert an existing flower bed, sacrifice a strip of lawn, or build a raised bed on poor soil or a gravelly surface.

How big?
A maximum width of 1.2m makes the centre of the bed within most people’s reach, and a length of no more than 3m makes it easy to walk round. It doesn’t have to be rectangular – curves and triangles can make better use of an existing space.

Bed edges
Mark out the bed with strings and pegs. Raised beds are essential if you’re building on poor ground. There are easy-to-construct kits in a range of sizes. Edges 15cm deep will be enough to keep a ground level bed tidy; beds built up on poor ground should be 45cm deep.

Preparing the ground
If the ground’s been cultivated before, you just need to fork over the bed to a depth of 15-20cm and remove any weed roots. If you’re converting a lawn, dig the bed and bury the turf at least 15cm deep (worth the hard work, as it will feed your plant as it decays). If you’re building up a raised bed on poor ground, buy topsoil to fill it. In all cases add a soil improver (from garden centres) and spread in a 3-5cm layer over the bed.

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