The spring and summer is when most folk think about starting a garden and most newbies will be thinking that gardening is purely a summer activity - however a productive garden will give you food all year round. There are many vegetables which can handle sub zero temperatures. Late summer is the time to plant these veg, such as winter leek and cabbage. So if you think you've missed your window then have a rethink! Preparing a veg garden now will give you food this winter. The photos below were taken back in feb-march, and the plots are currently full of heritage mange-tout, young squash, fennel, beetroot and much more. As I harvest these I'll be sowing winter crops - many of which will taste much better after a frost. I'll post some pictures of the plots in their current state soon. But hopefully the advice below will be of some use still.
If you plan to build raised beds then you'll probably be building them from wood - better still reclaimed wood such as old scaffold boards, which is what I used. I was able to buy 24 boards, each 6 foot in length from a wood recycling scheme.
The problem with wood is it will slowly rot if exposed directly to the soil. As you can see from the photos below, which was a raised bed I've used for about four years.
The best way to prolong your beds is to line them with a water proof barrier. I was able to get hold of some plastic shed roof lining which seems very tough. This was simply stapled on the inside. To prolong the beds even further I tacked some scrap wood to the bottom of the beds to raise them slightly higher, which stops them sitting in pooled water after heavy rain. With all the additives which supermarkets add to food it makes sense to try and grow some of our own food - which is far healthier and tastier. And not only will you save from money for yourselves - growing food is a great home-education project which really teaches children the values of work, patience and ecology.
After 4 years of use and without a liner the wood was slowly rotting.
In this picture you can see I've lined the beds and also started covering the paths