Raised beds on concrete

Community Community No dig gardening Preparing the ground Raised beds on concrete

This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  SiaCorbyn 4 years, 10 months ago.

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    Hello all.
    I have a question about how to work with raised beds on solid concrete. We just moved into a house that has raised beds around an outdoor patio. That whole side of the house is either solid concrete or paving stones. I’d like to use the beds to grow veggies and other edibles, but am concerned that there are no worms at all. Do I need them if the soil is loose enough and gets municipal compost and worm castings from our own compost bin?
    Many thanks for any advice.



    Hi Marcy,
    It would be useful to know your context. It would be a different proposition between, say, West of Scotlant and East Anglia, as to how dry you are or whether you can put enough water down!
    There is a garden called Glenwhan (https://glenwhangardens.co.uk/) in the South West of Scotland where parts of the garden are only a few inches of peat over solid rock. This could be equated to by compost over concrete. However, that part of Scotland receives a LOT of rain ….
    My response would be suck it and see 🙂 !



    Thanks Neil,

    I should have mentioned my location! I am in Denmark, zone 8b. I think we get a fair amount of rain, and yes I think I’ll just make a go of it and see what happens. I have two garden patches as well, one has already been dug, and one that I am just starting with the no dig process – it just has the first step with good compost, cardboard and tarps so far. So I will plant the ‘no dig’, previously dug, and the raised beds in the spring. (I have composted them all with a deep layer) I am very curious to see what the differences between the three are. What would be the best test veggies to plant in all three to measure the different yields do you think? There won’t be room for everything in the raised beds. This is my first shot at no-dig, so an experiment will be super fun, and will also be fantastic to show some of the skeptics in the family if all goes well! 🙂




    OH! And thanks for the link, Glenwhan looks amazing, what a project!



    Hi Marcy,
    Sounds like a really interesting project. It will take a thorough comparison to prove the benefits to those who doubt. I am sorry I assumed you are in the UK.
    I guess the best veg for trialling would be those you eat a lot of. One thing I have found is that an excess of things like cabbage and cauliflower means that they often do not get eaten, so I would concentrate on those things which store well such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips and beetroot. I would try some leaf veg as well just to see the difference as those mentioned before are all root crops.
    How much rain did you get during June, July and August this year?



    My thoughts would revolve around drainage and available planting depth.
    If the depth is sufficient for your crop and they drain, then no issue. But if shallow, ponding or likely to become saturated and flow away, then drainage must be considered.
    Dependant on the type of construction of the concrete surface, it may be possible to punch through either with a mechanical breaker, “Kango” type machine or a hammer machine with 50mm coredrill. This would allow vertical drainage and a route for earthworms to migrate.Such machines can be hired



    A friend of mine does all his veg planting in beds on concrete.
    He buys 3″x9″ timbers 16ft long and then makes rectangles 16ft x 5ft and 18″ deep.
    He is 74 years old so does some of his digging with a mini digger, which is a good point of having the concrete to clatter around on.
    He has great results but he does buy in lots of compost and is on hand for watering most of the time. He just does the traditional spring to autumn season so they sit idle over the winter so I can’t tell you if it works in the cold and wet.
    We are in Pembrokeshire with a lot of rain.

    There are worms in his beds, which presumably have arrived from the compost he has made and then have multiplied, but I wouldn’t say it is a ecologically balanced soil. They are just huge boxes of compost.



    Hope you managed to grow your veggies properly. I really haven’t tried doing or using a raised bed set up in the ground. Instead, I used plastic raised garden bed kits that I got from this seller, which are easy to assemble and portable. But as far as I know, earthworms play a great role when it comes to having great soil for your plants. Some of the things they can do are to eat dead insects and leaf moulds, plus, improve the structure and loosen compacted soil. But you can also try investing in fertilizers and better soil if you don’t want to handle earthworms lol. That’s just what I know.

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