How to build a school raised bed vegetable garden
Using school raised garden beds We would strongly recommend using timber raised vegetable beds for your school garden for a number of reasons, the biggest from the teachers point of view is they cut down on maintenance.
Raised beds contain the growing area and will suffer far less from encroaching weeds than a vegetable bed dug straight into the ground. We find most schools need to place their beds on a hard surface so really raised beds are your only option.
I'll list the reasons why find raised beds such a good solution:
Protect your soil from traffic
This ensures the soil doesn't get compacted by walking on the soil. Compacted soil is more difficult for roots to penetrate and has less beneficial soil life than a light, crumbly soil structure.
Choose your soil.
Many gardens have shallow soil of poor quality which won't be sufficient to feed demanding vegetable plants. A raised bed can be filled with imported soil to your specification.
Easier to manage.
You'll have less trouble with encroaching weeds from the surrounding area. The extra height makes weeding a raised bed much more comfortable as bending is reduced.
Neat and Tidy.
If you're growing in your school garden you don't want to ruin your view with an untidy plot. Raised vegetable beds create a neat, easy to manage growing area.
Warm Quicker in Spring.
Raised beds will warm quicker than the surrounding soil in Springtime from the heat of the sun on the sides. This allows you to get going a little earlier as growing depends more on soil temperature than outside air temperature.
Raised Beds Aid Growth.
The rich deep soil means you will get more vigorous growth from your vegetable plants and in many cases can plant at closer spacings making a small area more productive.
Raised Bed Options
There are a number of options you can choose for your school raised bed system depending on your budget, space available and growing requirements. You can choose from small easy to manage planters to more substantial raised bed systems for larger schools and class sizes. I'm listing the main and most popular options below which we find most schools use but if you need an alternative solution not included please do give us a call. We generally work to standard raised bed size of 6ft by 3ft" but can also supply custom sizes if required.
Compact Budget Planters
Many of the crops suitable for schools can be grown in smaller containers and may not need a full size raised bed garden if budgets are tight. We have a number of options which are perfectly suited to growing herbs and salad crops with tub planter kits also suitable for growing potatoes and other larger crops.
The simple planter bags typically consist of a re-useable horticultural planter sack in various sizes to suit different crops. These planters are filled with a good multipurpose compost which is then topped up with a plant feed after about a month to 6 weeks.
The advantage of this type of planter is it's value and also the fact that they can be emptied and folded away for use the following year.
Reservoir Planters Reservoir planters are an ideal mid range solution that has the added advantage of carrying a water reservoir in the base meaning less watering time. Plants actually grow better with their source of moisture coming from underneath the roots rather than above as this encourages a better root system. Reservoir planters have been proven to increase yields and to speed up growth so are ideal for a school vegetable garden.
Reservoir planters are very handy in that they include a water level indicator that clearly shows when the plant needs to be watered. This indicator is also stops over watering which is a very common reason for failure with inexperienced gardeners. Essentially this planter has your back.
Reservoir planters are of differing design but all work in more or less the same way. The base of the planter will either contain a reservoir of water or sit in one and is replenished every couple of days depending on the demands of the plant. You can also mix a liquid feed in with the water (we love liquid seaweed products) to keep your nutrient levels high enough when the feed in the compost has been exhausted.
Large Timber Raised Garden Bed Kits
Timber raised garden kits are our speciality and are the cornerstone of our business. We produce a broad range of raised beds but for schools the most popular modes are the classic 14inch high bed and the Premier 14inch high bed. Both these beds are exactly the same size with the only difference being the thickness of the timber used. Both beds are 6ft by 3ft by 14 inches high.
All our timber beds come as a flat pack kit with instructions and fixings included. We also provide assembly videos on the site should you require help putting the beds together.
Classic Raised Vegetable Beds
The Classic beds are designed for allotments where a simple and cheap system is needed to keep the soil contained. There will be small amounts of warping or bowing of the timber over time but this will not effect the structure of the bed. Classic beds tend to be used where the look of the bed isn't of critical importance. The Classic beds come in 2 different heights, 9 inch and 14 inch with the 14 inch being most popular for schools.
Premier Raised Vegetable Beds
Our Premier range use the same basic design of the Classic but with thicker planks and corner posts. These beds are made from a much chunkier timber and which retains it's shape and will result in a longer lasting bed. The Premier beds are our most popular design and are available in 3 different heights, 9 inch,14 inch and 21 inch with the 14 inch model being most popular for schools.