Sunday, 24 March 2013

Using Scaffold Boards on the Allotment

The new allotment was covered in small beds surrounded by wooden boards.  They were about 4 inches in height and most of them had rotted away at the bottom.  They were not really retaining the soil because the level was below the bottom of the boards. They did give the beds some shape and boundaries.

I cannot be doing with lots of little beds and the Calystegia sepium was spreading along the boards because it was difficult to weed below them.   As I have been sieve double digging, I have taken out all the boards except those down the sides of the allotment.  This has also meant that I have taken out all the paths as well.

The paths were topsoil covered in carpet which was covered in shredded brushwood.  I have a great collection of carpets which are slowly being taken down to the tip.   The shredded brushwood had decayed well and was of a lovely fibrous texture.  This got sieved into the top soil as I dug down the allotment.

The boards down the sides of the allotment have rotted away as well but they are still serviceable.  However, I do have access to some 13 foot scaffold boards so I need to decide whether I box in the allotment or leave the old rotten boards.  Leaving the old boards will be cheaper.

Using the old wood, I probably have enough stakes to take boards along both sides of the allotment and across the top but I will need to buy the scaffold boards.  I am not going to build little beds across the allotment but rather divide the beds with the bay trees and asparagus.  I will possibly use some of the black currant cuttings to divide the beds too.

On the old allotment, I have used old paving slabs to retain the soil and this would be my favourite choice but I am not sure that I will be able to get any soon.  They do not rot.
As I have raised the old allotment up the paving slabs became invaluable
in retaining the soil and preventing it from over spilling the path.  
This soil has only been raised with home made compost, leaves and manure.  

In any case I would use paving slabs to cover the paths  made using the sieved  stone.  Only when I have a good path down the side of the allotment and across the bottom to the shed will I start to use the slabs as edging.

The scaffold planks do eventually rot away.  I will not use preservative on them because this is just another chemical I do not want leaching into the allotment soil.

Scaffold boards are very effective at retaining the soil and giving the allotment shape.  They do tidy the allotment up and make it look better but that will not improve the soil or increase my harvest.  The priority is the growing rather than the aesthetics.

If I think that I have the time this spring I will get some boards but with the weather as cold as it is, I think that the season will be contracted and time will be short to finish more important jobs.  

1 comment:

  1. I garden 100% organically and for my raised beds I also use scaffolding boards- however I have discovered that used roofing slates, which you can get for nothing from roofers who are replacing them, are the same size as the boards when laid on their side, so they act as a damp proof course and stop the boards rotting, and they look OK too. I wrap the underside of the boards in cheap builders black plastic where they touch the soil at the bottom, which I staple on with a DIY heavy duty staple gun ( roofing felt nails also good for this, but staples are easier).You can then angle the plastic so that water won't accumulate, instead running downwards and away from the boards on the outside of the raised beds. Using this method, and screwing the boards to sharpened stakes, which can easily be replaced when they rot, they will last many more years than if they're just used in the raw- with no need for nasty chemicals. However, to further enhance their lifespan, check out Osmo natural wood preservers which are eco-freindly and can be brush onto the exposed surfaces, they are oil based and repel water rather than working by a fungicidal action alone.