We have been talking about growing our own vegetables for years, but never got around to it. We are not into gardening particularly (in fact, we have a bloke that comes and tidies up, cuts the grass, does some weeding for us for our main garden – which is kept pretty simple), but feel that growing our own vegetables and perhaps some fruit would be worth doing.
The obvious area to do this is probably unsuitable as it is north facing and shaded by the house. We know that there are some vegetables and salads that would do reasonably well in such a location, but probably not the best thing to start with.
To the south side of the house, we have some large concreted but otherwise largely unused areas. We have decided to build up raised beds on top of the concrete rather breaking up and removing the concrete. We have also decided to reclaim the land occupied by the chicken coop as the girls no longer seem interested in keeping chickens and have not restocked since the demise of our last birds. The coop though was hand built by our friend from Nepal using lots of wire netting and many relatively modest bits of wood is pretty large and will provide excellent protection from birds.
Our first thoughts on build raised beds was to use railway sleepers. We then found all sorts of concerns and legislation regarding what sleepers have been treated with in the past, the dangers of skin contact, leaching of chemicals into the soil, etc. We are now looking at all sorts of options on construction or even buying ready made galvanised steel troughs. No hurry, plenty of time to decide what to do before planting season is upon us.
One advantage of creating new raised beds on concrete is that we can fill them with just the right top soil to make our first steps into growing of vegetables as easy as possible. Drainage will be the biggest challenge. We think a membrane of some kind underneath a lot of course material will ensure the beds do not hold too much water and drown plants whilst retaining sufficient to promote growth.