Friday, February 19, 2010

Building A Raised Bed for the Garden

Building a new raised bed for a vegetable garden isn't difficult and  doesn't have to be expensive. This week I put together a new raised bed that measures 3'x10' with materials I had laying around the garage. It's wider than I originally intended in my garden layout but I discovered after remeasuring the area that I actually had a little more space. I think 3 feet wide is probably the ideal width most people should build their beds but 4 feet is definitely the maximum width. Gardeners want to be able to easily reach the middle of the bed for weeding and harvesting and 3 feet wide beds are only 18 inches to the center which I think is good enough for most people. 

The raised bed I put together uses a hodgepodge collection of materials for a couple reasons:  
  1. I had the materials conveniently laying around the garage (which means I didn't have to buy anything) and  
  2. I needed to compensate for a slight slope in this area of the garden.  
To try to keep a level bed I used a 3 foot long section of 2"x6" on the lower end and a 3 foot long section of 2"x4" on the high side. The result was pretty close to level.


I used two 2"x4"s on each side; one measured 4 feet while the other measured 10 feet long. I put the smaller one on the bottom and the larger one on top to build a little depth. The actual height on the deep side is 7 and 1/4 inches while on the high side is only 3 and a half inches. The soil underneath is in good shape after being amended with grass clippings and leaves in the fall. Generally if there is good soil underneath the raised beds the height doesn't need to be as tall. Rocky and clay compacted soils necessitate a higher/deeper raised bed.


To attach the beds together I used 1"x3" pieces cut to the correct height (7.25") on the corners and on the sides where the bottom 2"x4" ends. These pieces required a few more screws (I used 2" coated deck screws) to fit together than just going end to end but should hold together well. I put these on the outside of the beds but using 4"x4" posts on the inside corners is a good method also.


Now I need to layer the bottom with newspapers or cardboard then fill with soil, compost, and grass clippings from the yard.  I still have at least one more bed to put together but since these will be tomato beds and tomatoes can't be planted outside for several weeks I have a little window of time to get the job done!


How are you expanding your vegetable garden this year?



5 comments :

  1. We are starting our garden from scratch in a new house and have planned to use raised beds. In fact we just made an experimental one the other day. Our size was 3X6 because we used some old cedar fence boards. We did it very much the same as you, but we had to line the bottom with gopher wire. We made the wire go down about 6 inches then bend up and get stapled to the side of our box. We planted the sample and so far no sign of gophers breaking in! And the plants are already growing due to the burst of sunshine we were experiencing here in N. Calif. Now can't wait to get into full swing gardening!

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  2. Looks great, Dave and I like the fact that you've used what you have available. :) As for expanding my veggie garden this summer, it's hard to think about while still unpacking and trying to settle into new digs, but at least I have a fair bit more room, if only for more containers. I'll keep you posted, though. :)

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  3. Hi Dave, You will enjoy these beds! We were fortunate that there was already a raised bed garden in place when we moved here. It's taken a lot of work to get it into shape, but it's coming along. However, as you know, we're in the shade... no veggies (except I have hopes for a little spot I want built this summer). This brings me to my new post. You asked us to post about 5 new things in our Garden this Summer. So... my post is finished, and I've linked to you. :-)

    Do you want me to comment on your post with the request??

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  4. Your veggies are going to have a great spot to grow!

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  5. More space for more veggies. That's great.

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