Raised Bed B: A social isolation project

Two years ago, when the builders rebuilt our wall and built my two raised beds, the weather was atrocious. Heavy rain, snow, icy winds – the Beast from the East struck at just the wrong time. By the time they were shovelling back all the soil, neither they – not I – cared what was going into the hole.

Before I began planting, I had dug through both beds to remove what rubble, stones and bricks I could, but I was too eager to start planting (and too tired by the time I got to this one) that I didn’t quite dig everything out. I thought if I put good compost on top of the rubbish, everything would be fine. And it was; but now there are shoots of Japanese anemone coming up, and no matter how deep I dig, I cannot get to the bottom of them to remove them.

So I planned to dig everything out and refill one bed this year, knowing that the allotment bed would take the pressure off and I could take my time.

Only now I can’t get to the allotment and this task has become top priority.

Day One

First it needed to be cleared and emptied.

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Good job we have these extra large bags. So far every spade and shovelful has been examined for stones, old mortar and any other rubbish. I’m less than a third of the way through and I’ve half-filled a rubble sack with rubbish and almost filled this humungous bag with soil.

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I am, however, seriously impressed with the number and variety of worms inhabiting this bed (some of which have been sent on holiday to Raised Bed A).

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It doesn’t look as though I did much in three hours, does it?

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I intend to empty only half of the bed, then move the soil/remove the rubble from the other half as I shovel/rake/kick it into the empty space. That’s the theory anyway.

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And then it rained overnight, and I hadn’t thought to cover it so . . .

Day Two

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Once again, rain stopped play. I’ve half filled a second large bag and have four sacks of rubble to store until I can either offer it for hardcore or transport it to the Recycling Centre when it re-opens.

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Ever wished you’d never started something? Me too.  But, every shovelful has already been cleared of rubbish so when I am ready to replace the soil (bulking it up with home-made compost) it will just be a case of shovel it in and rake it level.

Day Three

I’ve dug out one third of the bed; removed seven bricks and half-bricks; filled three more rubble sacks with bits of mortar, large chunks of gravel and old plant roots (but I have a plan for some of the contents); and almost filled the second large bag with soil.

Just before the heavens opened, I had started moving soil from the next third into the empty space. This involved hoiking myself up on top of the bed and kneeling on an (empty) rubble sack before contorting myself into a very precarious downward dog pose – rather like this once-popular plastic Jack Russell terriers people used to put in their gardens.

One Digger Dog Jack Russell Garden Ornament

Not very elegant or ladylike!

Day Four

The sun came out – and stayed.

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My brother very kindly dropped off three sacks of lawn-moss the Saturday before the self-isolation measures came in, so I’ve used it to line the bottom of each trench as I slowly dug my way across the raised bed (left to right).

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After I’d finished digging, I spread the contents of the last bag on top, then added a layer of soil, emptying one of the large storage bags in the process.

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There are the contents of  the other storage bag to go on here, then I’ll cover it with bubble wrap for a few days to warm the soil.

Day Five

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Ta-da! Finally finished putting the last of the soil back in.

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And threw on the Allotment cages (to keep the cats off), and covered with bubble wrap to warm the soil ready for planting.

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Now we just need some rain!




Six on Saturday: 4 April 2020

Well we’ve survived for another week.

These narcissi are doing well in the front border. Not sure of the variety – could be Minnow with that little point to the petals (and the name does seem vaguely familiar) –  each flower is no larger than a 50p

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The peonies in the Shady Border are about 18 inches tall now, and they are starting to bulk out.

The woody herbs survived the winter and are putting on growth. Need a tidy up though.

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I’ve been working on one of my raised beds; dug it over and removed even more bricks and builder’s rubble, but added lots of bulk in the form of raked moss from my brother’s lawn. I was pleasantly surprised at the sheer number and variety of worms in the soil. No photos though as they can’t half move when they want to.

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A big shout out to one of our local garden centres who are now doing home deliveries. Most of my order arrived yesterday – 6 bags of compost and 9 potato growing bags (there should have been 10).

Taylors Bulbs - 1 Outdoor Potato Growing Bag Taylors Bulbs Outdoor Potato Growing Bag (POTBAG)

As I can’t get to the allotment to plant my spuds, these will have to do. They are made of a material similar to a bag for life with a couple of holes in the sides – 12 inches x 12 inches x 14 inches. The label says THREE seed potatoes in each, which I think is a little excessive; I’ll try two.

So that’s my not very exciting Six on Saturday (which turns out to be only five, but there you go. I’ll try to do better next week).




On this day . . .

An occasional look at what was happening in or around my garden on a particular day.

2019 – My second attempt at growing a ginger plant from a root bout at the supermarket. My second failure!


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2018 – My lovely new wall and raised beds. The wheelbarrow is full of rubbish the builders decided to bury to hide it. I’m still digging it out two years on.


2017 – lovely primroses – sadly they did not survive later ‘regeneration’ projects.




It’s my friend D’s birthday today. This time last year we had coffee at one of our local gardening centres and I bought her several trays of pansies and other bedding plants as a gift. Yesterday we had an hour-long chat on the telephone instead.


Monthly Roundup: March

After a long dark and miserable February, March arrived and it was time to decide which vegetables to plant at home and, for the first time in the allotment bed – and which ones will never darken my raised beds again (Beetroot, your days are numbered). The first job was to sort through my vegetable seeds. Being me, I made a spreadsheet! I’ll update it as and when I buy/receive new seeds. Continue reading “Monthly Roundup: March”

Six on Saturday: 28th March 2020

20200325Whatever else is going on in the world, those of us who live in Wales and England can’t complain about the glorious weather we’ve had this week. This was Wednesday. It’s a lot duller and colder today.

Monday and Tuesday we worked on my new greenhouse – to be known as the Tiny Greenhouse – (to the right of the picture below). You can read about that here – if you have a spare minute or two. Continue reading “Six on Saturday: 28th March 2020”

Project Greenhouse 2020

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12 March

We finally got around to calculating what supplies we will need to complete this modest project.

The frame will be built of 3 x 2 inch treated timber, which comes in 3600mm lengths (just short of 12 feet).

After making a small adjustment to the height of the front of the green house (reducing it by 25mm only), we will be able to get all the uprights, roof supports, cross pieces, and shelf supports, with only a small amount of wastage.

We need:

  • 2 x 2400 mm roof beams
  • 6 x 2000 mm uprights (2 x 2000 and 4 x 1800)
  • 8 x 600 mm side supports (4 each side)
  • 16 x 600 mm shelf supports (8 front, 8 back, 4 each side – instead of the 3 each side shown in the plan above).

The cross pieces and shelf supports will be adjusted as necessary.

We need 9 lengths at a cost of £4.15 per length = £37.35.

The greenhouse will be covered with twin-wall polycarbonate sheets

  • 2 x 2000 x 700 mm (for the sides)
  • 3 x 2000 x 1050 mm (for the front and door – cut down to 800 mm)
  • 1 x 2500 x 900 mm (for the roof – though we have to buy 2500 x 1050mm and cut it down)

With the coach bolts, screws, and plastic screw covers my husband already bought, we estimate the total cost will be approximately £160.00.

A similar (but not exact) size – off the shelf – made of aluminium and glass is £400.00 minimum – add floor, vents, rainwater collection sustem etc., and the price jumps to over £600.


DAY ONE – 16 March

For once the weather forecasters said we would have dry and sunny weather – and we did! A light frost first thing, but not enough to stop us getting out into the garden to make a start on the greenhouse.

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The wood was delivered at the weekend so once the area was cleared of the pots and accumulated junk, we made a start.

First one side – to get the sizes right. Fortunately we had a short piece of 700mm wide polycarbonate sheet, which helped.

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In place (but not yet screwed to the wall)

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And then there were two!

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DAY TWO – 17th March

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A long day – 6 hours (with a short coffee and lunch break). We just need to put some battens on the shed wall, to match the three on the two front sections. These are for my removable shelves.


I’m looking forward to sitting in the conservatory and seeing a sea of green inside.

DAY THREE – 23rd March

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The (removable) shelves have gone in!

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DAY 4 – 24th March

We started work at 8:45 and finished at 2:45 (with breaks). Just the door to make, but we’ve wedged a plastic sheet in temporarily while we take a break.

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In case you’re wondering, we’ve left the protective plastic cover on otherwise we’ll forget which side has the UV protection, which has to face outwards (or upwards).


As each pack of sheets came double-wrapped in bubble wrap, we will be OK for some stress-relieving bubble popping in the coming weeks. Or I could just use it on my raised beds to raise the temperature!

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Another project ticked off the list

Day 6 – 25th March

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Filling up nicely – and I’ve found a use for some of that bubble-wrap too!

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