Q – I have been told that raised beds are very good for growing crops and even flowers, what can you tell me about them?

A – Raised beds for growing your own fresh food can be a very useful addition to your garden or even a tiny outdoor space such as a backyard or rooftop. Ready-to-use raised growing beds have recently enjoyed a great surge of popularity; this is mainly because of the huge hike in fresh vegetable and salad prices in both supermarkets and even the cheaper farm shops. Many people have now made the decision to grow as much of their own produce as is possible in the space they have. This is where the idea of a high-sided independent bed, filled with good soil and compost, is pure genius and a terrific aid to gardeners.

Where else could you opt to create a small movable ‘garden’ which can have its own soil conditions including that all important PH level and with a bit of clever juggling? It even has its own individual micro-climate. Normally constructed from strong timber or plastic, this modern invention, based on an old idea, is designed to hold any type of recommended growing medium.

They also help eliminate horticultural dilemmas such as lack of production space, wet clay, slug invasions or a cold exposed garden. In addition raised beds are also ideal if you suffer from a bad back since you don’t have to bend down so far and several small beds are considerably less than a vast vegetable plot, that needs incessant weeding hoeing and watering. For what they cost, which isn’t a great deal, if laid out well they can actually look good in the garden, especially if you make them form some sort of colour and foliage pattern. For example a whole bed of purple cabbages would look great planted alongside a bed of silver leaved globe artichokes or a carpet of deep green parsley.

There are certainly many benefits from investing in this alternative method of growing crops; for one you can extend the growing season by quite a lot as the soil will warm up earlier and you can cover your raised beds with protective plastic or glass sheets. This incidentally can also help to deter pigeons that are hunting for fresh green shoots to feed their young squabs. So there it is – invest time and a little money into producing home grown produce OR put more money into supermarket tills.

Raised beds for growing your own vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers have grown enormously in popularity over the last few years as both keen gardeners and those with restricted facilities recognise the huge advantages of having an area that can help to eliminate gardening problems such as poor drainage, poor soil or no soil, pests and harsh climate conditions. These ready-made growing beds, with high sides, are normally made from wood or plastic and are designed to enclose areas of soil, or even rich compost, to create a new section of garden that stands alone and is higher than its surroundings.