Your local recycling centre will usually pass on freezer baskets that would otherwise be destined for landfill. Freezer baskets are made from plastic-coated steel wire and measure 18" by 18" by 6" (45 x 45 x 6cm) approximately. They can be used singly (ideal for salad leaves, spring onions, radishes etc.) or stacked 2 or 3 high (deep enough for root vegetables, legumes and brassicas). Baskets can be fixed to railings, fences or joined to each other using twists of wire, waterproof tape or plastic security tags.
Rather than buying some sort of membrane to hold soil in place, cut up thickish fabric – old curtains and woolly jumpers are good – into strips about 2" (5cm) wide. Weave these in and out of the wire slats of the bottom and the sides of the basket. If you are stacking baskets only infill the base of the lowest one with fabric, so that root systems have free growth. Move your new raised bed to its final position and put in a layer of crockery or small stones for drainage.
Fill with a soil and compost mixture and start planting and remember that strawberries, nasturtiums and herbs can be grown from the sides rather than take up room on the top. Try cutting a hole in the base of the topmost basket and plant a couple of chitted potatoes. Coddle the raised bed through the autumn or put it in a conservatory or greenhouse and there'll be new potatoes for Christmas dinner!
Maria Lalic, www.coblynes.co.uk