Raised beds can be a good option for polytunnel gardeners. If there is hard-standing beneath your polytunnel or the soil is particularly poor, they may be the only option. If you are older or have mobility problems, they can make gardening a whole lot easier. They can also make it easier to control pests and weeds. If you are just getting started with your polytunnel and are thinking about raised beds, then here are some tips to help you make good decisions:
There are several different options when it comes to the size and shape of raised beds in a polytunnel. Obviously, the raised bed and layout design will depend on the size of your polytunnel as well as your own personal requirements but it is a good idea to follow some basic rules of thumb.
The first is that you should always aim to maximise 'edge', as the edge between two systems is always the most productive. So, making more, smaller beds or an irregular edged bed could be a better option than two big rectangular ones. The second is more straight forward and is simply that you should consider the practicalities and make beds no larger than you can comfortably reach to.
Raised bed edges can be attractive and functional. They can also help you to make your polytunnel growing a more eco-friendly and sustainable option. You can do this by using reclaimed materials to make your bed edges. While raised beds do not always need edging, edges will usually help to keep all the soil and materials in place.
Raised beds should be at least 25cm in depth, ideally at least 35cm deep for growing vegetables. When determining depth, always make sure you bear in mind the needs of the plants you wish to grow there.
Rather than filling beds entirely with top soil & compost, you can save money and create a fertile growing area by layering up organic matter and cardboard or straw to compost in place before topping the beds with a topsoil or compost into which seeds can easily be sown. You can then top add compost and mulches to improve and replenish the growing medium over time and create a sustainable system that can feed and nurture your plants for years to come.