Raised beds and containers

These can all be employed wherever suitable, with agreement – in your garden, in shared or public spaces, allotments, schools etc. Plus you can have huge fun making them out of re-purposed materials!

Raised beds and containers offer a number of advantages over growing in the ground. They can be easier to reach if you have trouble bending over, they are slightly more resistant to pests (though most can in fact climb or fly in), they can exten the growing season, can avoid having to use poor or potentially contaminated local soils and avoid compaction, as they are not usually walked on. On the down side, some designs will encourage pest nesting in the walls, they cost moent for container and growing material, and they generally need more watering. 

Check Soils etc for important info on the health and safety of growing materials.

The supply of free growing material from Yorkshire Water, (Esholt) made from ‘phytoremediated’ green and brown waste is currently unavailable, but we are hoping it can be reinstated soon. Meanwhile, you can buy soil and other growing media at most garden centres. 

Find sources of soil and compost on the Map – on the Resources layer.

Raised beds 

‘Un-raised’ beds (flat mounds, using imported material if necessary) actually attract fewer pests, because slugs and ants like to live in wooden or brick sides, but beds with walls are useful if you’re not 100% confident of your soil and are bringing in new growing material, and worth considering even if using the soil on site, because the edges do resist encroaching weeds. 1-1.2m is the ideal width, so you can reach from both sides, and high raised beds can help if you have problems bending over. 

You can fill the bottom with logs and/or un-composted organic material (which increases fertility) or make a false bottom if you don’t have enough. To make a raised bed on grass, cut out the top layer of turf, dig out another layer of soil, bury the turf upside down, and put the soil back on top….or use a few layers of cardboard or newspaper on the grass/weeds, and then put compost/soil on top. (Cardboard will exclude light and so kill the grass/weeds which then rot down into the soil). 

Tyres make good raised beds.

Raised beds with a base function more like containers and will need more water.

Raised beds https://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/Profile.aspx?pid=428

Best Practices for Growing Vegetables in a Community Garden or at Home in Raised Beds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnnjOmQbtJQ

‘Lasagna’ gardening http://organicgardening.about.com/od/startinganorganicgarden/a/lasagnagarden.htm

Also from Back Yard Boss: https://www.backyardboss.net/lasagna-gardening/

Linkaboard – flexible plastic raised beds from recycled materials http://www.linkabord.co.uk/

See Shopping and Sharing

Containers (pots, bags, boxes etc) 

These include everything from a tiny pot, to a shopping bag, to a builders’ skip!

They tend to be self-contained, and the smaller type have the advantage of being movable – plus you can have huge fun ‘re-purposing’ things to grow in! 

Generally the smaller the container, the more watering it will need, and the sooner it will run out of nutrients – so pots and bags are fine, but watch them closely! 

Containers http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?pid=527 

Sub-irrigated planters / self watering pots http://www.insideurbangreen.org/2010/03/simpletomake-green-tote-box-sip.html

Earthbox, smartpots and bags http://containergardening.about.com/od/vegetablesandherbs/tp/5-Great-Outdoor-Containers-For-Growing-Vegetables.htm

See Shopping and Sharing

Compost and Soil  

You will need to buy or scrounge some ‘growing media’ to put into your containers or raised beds. For a while Yorkshire Water were able to supply (sometimes for free) a wonderful product made from sewage and green waste, but this is currnely not available. Meanwhile you can buy compost and soil from the usual places.

Make your own compost if you can – but remember that this is fuel, not so much a structure to grow in, so larger pots and raised beds will need a mixture of compost and soil.


York Rotters: http://www.homecomposting.org.uk/master-composters-mainmenu-36/how-to-get-involved-mainmenu-39/sheme-contact-details/40-york-rotters


and check Soils etc for important info on the health and safety of growing materials

Walls and fences 

You can even grow food on walls – again, often using recycled containers. 

Veg on walls https://www.rhs.org.uk/Advice/Profile?PID=547

Vertical veg – resources for growing in small spaces http://www.verticalveg.org.uk/

Pallet planters (with a larger mass of soil needing less watering) http://lifeonthebalcony.com/how-to-turn-a-pallet-into-a-garden/

Please advise of any broken links, or links you think should be included here.