“ Brand: Harrod Horticulture / Type: Kids Gardening „
I've only really got into gardening in the last couple of years, because being a hayfever sufferer I wasn't interested in encouraging anything to grow that would make my symptoms worse!
So I'm a kitchen gardener, only growing things that I can eat! I've successfully grown a few things in pots, like chillies and tomatoes, but I really wanted to push the boat out this year and grow more in terms of quantity and variety.
So my fiancé persuaded his Mum to let me have a raised bed (I live with him and his parents) on the patio area. This area doesn't have paving slabs and is just concrete, so she didn't mind me making a mess here!
Initially I was going to make my own raised bed from old bits of wood and even though I like to think I'm quite handy with a hammer and nails, I really wanted something that would look good and not fall apart in 5 minutes.
A quick search on Google led me to Link-a-Bord, which are raised beds made from 98% recycled plastic. The product is unique in that it is double-skinned, which means warmth is kept trapped inside a Link-a-Bord structure and this maintains a stable growing temperature.
Here are the key features taken from the Link-a-Bord website:
* Non-Toxic, recycled from waste material
* Range of colours
* Does not rot or break
* Simple to Use
* Double-Skinned insulation
The brilliant thing about Link-a-Bord is the number of different sizes and shapes of beds and containers you can make. The boards come in a range of lengths from 50cm, 100cm, 200cm or 300cm and they are 15cm high. The pieces link together using corner pieces, straight links and vertical dowelling, so you can make the beds as big as you like or you can stack them on top of each other to make deep beds.
Link-a-Bord is available from quite a few gardening based websites as kits or individual pieces, so you will surely be able to build a bed to your own specifications.
With the space I was given on the patio, I could build a bed that was 100cm long by 50cm. On the Harrod Horticultural website there is loads of useful information so you can decide how big to make your bed, but also how many tiers deep, as different crops require different depths.
I wanted to grow carrots and beetroot so I needed 2 tiers, which is what I got with the Children's kit and it was the perfect size. It cost £29.95 and as I'd done my research I knew this was a good price, especially with a 10% discount code I had. Harrod Horticultural have quite a few different sized kits available and I noticed they had a kit the same size as the Children's kit but it was more expensive! So it's worth doing your homework on all the different kits and components as you could save a few quid.
Anyway, I ordered my kit and it took about 2 weeks for the first parts to be delivered. I received all the boards and the corners on a Friday but the dowels were missing. I phoned up Customer Services and after a long wait I finally managed to talk to someone and they said the dowels could be in another delivery van and if they weren't with me by the following Monday then I should call again. I was a bit annoyed that not all the bits had arrived together, but as it happens I went away that weekend, so I couldn't have done any planting anyway. The dowels did arrive on the Monday, so I set to work building my raised bed!
The bed was incredibly easy to put together as all the pieces just slot together and I managed to do this on my own. The dowels come in 1 or 2 metre lengths, so I had to cut them into 8 pieces and this was easy to do with a small hacksaw or apparently you can use secateurs. I left my dowels long so that they weren't flush with the top of the bed, so I could tie any netting that I might need in the future.
The only real problem I had with the bed was totally underestimating how much compost I'd need to fill it up! I've only been used to filling up pots, so I thought my two 40 litre bags of compost would be enough. No chance! They didn't even fill it 1/3 full. So I went around the garden collecting soil (I dug quite a big trench and everyone thought it was the pesky foxes! Heeheehee!) and I needed about 6 - 7 buckets to get it 2/3 full. Then my fiancé's Mum said I could use her 40 litre bag of compost she'd been saving, so I got it about 2 inches full from the top.
In case you're interested, here's what I've planted:
2 butternut squash plants
3 tomato plants
6 beetroot plants
3 onion sets
1 yellow pepper plant
a patch of lolla rosso lettuce
2 patches of basil
a row of carrot seed
I think there is adequate space for everything to grow, but as I'm a complete novice to this raised bed gardening lark, I had to make an educated guess as to how far apart I should plant things. I'm a bit worried the butternut squash will take over the whole bed, so fingers crossed it will be OK!
I grew everything except the yellow pepper plant from seed (which I am really proud of!) and the seedlings are loving their new home. They seem to be really thriving from the space, the moisture and the warmth. The beds from Harrod Horticultural come in black, which not only looks very stylish but it obviously helps to retain the heat and believe me they do get hot in the sun!
I think the Link-a-Bord kits are brilliant as they're so easy to put together. They should last for about 20 years and hopefully my fiancé and I will have our own place in the next few years, so we can take it with us!
The Harrod Horticultural product code for the Children's Link-a-Bord Kit is: GDN-667
You can also buy kits and individual pieces directly from www.linkabord.co.uk who I was originally going to buy from, because they seem to be the only place that stocks all the different colours (green, white, terracotta, light blue and black).
I have emailed their customer services for advice about putting the raised bed directly on concrete and they reply very quickly and are really helpful (no need for a lining unless you want to protect the ground from staining). Postage from them is £5.00 for orders under £35.00 and £10.00 for orders over £35.00. Delivery from Harrod Horticultual was £4.95.
The kit comes complete with all boards, links and dowels (children will need the assistance of an adult to assemble).