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Regular readers of my reviews will know that growing endives and lettuces is one of my passions. I have a small garden but manage to be self sufficient in these crops all year round, and the best thing is that the salad leaves I produce are all organic. You can easily achieve this in a small garden as they need little space, and with a little thought you can design a system which facilitates maximum production for minimum effort.
The Bed Builder Pack
With this in mind last year I increased my production by purchasing a raised bed kit from Amazon. As I only have a small garden I wanted something that I could put just outside my patio, as during the winter the lawn gets really muddy, and picking salad leaves on a daily basis means stepping outside in all weathers. Therefore the item had to look good and so I looked on Amazon with this thought in mind. The Bed Builder Pack really stood out for me when I saw it, as it is a rustic bed made from half logs, so it blends in well with the natural surroundings and looks aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
There are two sizes but I opted for the largest which measures 2m by 1m and this provides 21cm of planting depth, which is ideal for lettuces as they have shallow roots.
The price on Amazon now is £41 but when I purchased this last summer it was only £39.99. The item is dispatched from Garden Central who is an Amazon Marketplace seller. Shipping is free on this item which is superb value as the item is extremely heavy and bulky.
Excellent Customer Service
I was called by the company soon after ordering to arrange a delivery date which I thought was excellent, and the courier arrived on time. I suppose I hadn't prepared myself for what would arrive as it was basically a pile of wood and screws and fixing posts all bundled together. There was no packaging at all so consequently minimal instructions either, but the driver was kind and took the wood around the back of my house where it was imperative to attend to it quickly as its size meant it was in the way.
Now my husband is rather technically minded and can always turn his hand to a job and rarely reads instructions, but even he said they should be supplied with the kit. This is because it is so important to hammer the fixing posts into the ground at the proper angle and position, and you don't want to shatter them as they provide the key to the longevity of the item. I looked at the kit supplied and realised it was beyond my experience, especially as it had no clear instructions, so I would say unless you are good at DIY I would steer clear from this one. For example, it wasn't clear where the holes were to be drilled into the wood, and it didn't say on the Amazon listing that a drill was going to be required. It is also quite physically hard work to construct as the posts are very heavy, and the posts have to be driven into the ground, so it is wise to choose a day when there has been recent rainfall.
Delighted With The Result!
When completed the bed looked fantastic and I was so pleased with the result. It is also worth saying that you must factor in the cost of the compost as it took over 6 large bags to fill. I was able to purchase these cheaply at the end of the summer season but it does add to the cost considerably.
I would say that the bed holds over 100 endive plants which are now in full production providing salad leaves on a daily basis. It is positioned in full sun and at this time of year requires little attention, though in summer it will need a lot of watering. The crops are well protected from slugs, as they find it hard to crawl up the bevelled edges of the logs, which is a real bonus as we have a major slug problem where we live especially in wet weather.
The size of the bed is such a bonus as the area it provides is so spacious it allows a decent quantity of endives to be grown, and the plants are more disease resistant as they are protected from many soil borne pests and weeds. The plants in this bed are study and strong, and I have been delighted with the high yields I have obtained. It has allowed me to make redundant some of my smaller pots, which were high maintenance for low yields, and can now be used for flowers and more decorative purposes.
I love the rustic nature of this bed which looks natural and blends in well with the garden, and hopefully it should last for many years as the wood is treated and is weatherproof.
I was impressed by the company as they called up a week after delivery to make sure I was happy with my purchase and allowed me to voice any concerns. I explained that I was not happy about the lack of instructions provided with the kit, and the lady told me that was the feedback they were getting across the board, so hopefully this will be rectified in the near future.
I must also point out that this bed has already paid for itself. I have been pricing up the produce against shop prices that it has allowed me to produce this autumn and winter, and I am already in profit as it provides daily salad leaves in copious quantities.
All in all this is an excellent purchase for the home gardener, but check with the company first to see if the instruction sheet has been improved as I feel this is where the product fails.
This review will also be published on Ciao with photographs under my user name Violet1278