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Monday, March 21, 2011

Greenland Gardener Raised Beds

I've always been a big fan of raised bed gardening. There are significant advantages to gardening in raised beds which is why when Greenland Gardener offered to send me one of their raised bed kits to test out I said "yes please!" My vegetable garden is almost completely made of raised beds built from non-pressure treated lumber which only lasts about 2 seasons before it completely disintegrates. Are there better ways of building a raised bed? Let's see how the Greenland Gardener raised bed kit stacks up.



First you should know that I have not tested the raised bed for growing anything yet. It's really too early to plant it according to their kit (which offers up a neat planting plan for a salsa garden and another regular garden) but I can tell you about the installation and compare that to building my own raised beds. First the Greenland gardener raised beds are made from composite lumber which will last decades. That's an obvious advantage to the home built ones in my backyard. The composite lumber is made from recycled plastic bags which is another plus for it's environmentally friendly origins.


The kit I tested came with 7 - 42" boards and 6 joint pieces. Each joint piece was routed to fit together with the routed ends of the composite lumber. The idea is to make these beds as easy as possible for the consumer to put together - that's another plus. Anything to encourage a new gardener and help them be successful is good to me! But this is also where the kit had some issues. When putting the pieces together I found that some of the routers grooves were routed backwards. The lumber can only fit together in one way and it just didn't fit together smoothly. It required several different adjustments by moving the boards from location to location. At one point I had to get out the old hammer to "gently convince" the boards that they really do fit that way."Yes boards, I insist" I said.

Also a level surface is a must since some of the routered joints fit loosely and others very tightly - if the surface is level it's not an issue.

The instructions for putting the beds together are so simple that I'm confident that anyone could easily assemble them. No tools or cutting is needed to put together the raised beds so even those with deficient carpentry skills can build these raised beds.

My Junior Gardener Assistant!

Overall I think the concept is great. Greenland Gardener designed a raised bed that will last, is easy to assemble, and should function perfectly well. My only misgiving with the product is the corners and the misrouted grooves. It's possible that the beds I received with the rough joints were an anomaly. I really like the seed planting concept that Greenland gardener kit has, but I'll save that post for later - when the weather is safe for planting!







10 comments :

  1. Dave, after assembly you added a layer of newspaper, is the next layer grass clippings? If so how long before you can add the soil? It does look like a nice bed, what is the cost of the kit? Thank you.

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  2. Hi Debbie,

    I'm alternating layers of newspapers and grass clippings. Soon I'll add some soil. You can pretty much plant it as soon as it is filled up. It's the whole lasagna gardening thing. Those kits seem to be priced differently at different stores but I think the large one with two beds is between $80-$100.

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  3. Looks like a pretty neat kit! Looking forward to seeing what grows!

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  4. Dave,

    This product review has launched me onto the soapbox that has been growing under my feet of late.

    Please allow me: the media-fueled popularity of vegetable gardening has spawned a cottage industry of over-priced gadgets, such as this, that crafty gardeners can easily make themselves for a fraction of the price. I've built my own raised beds for less than 20% of what this company is charging, with supplies available at any big-box retailer, and I've enjoyed the satisfaction of a job well-done.

    For beginners, I suggest looking over detailed plans--provided on Dave's blog and others--for building and arranging your own raised beds.

    Thanks for providing a forum for my two cents as well as for your informative blog!

    T.

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  5. Hi T,

    You may have a point on the media fueled popularity creating expensive gadgetry. I really prefer the satisfaction of building something of my own. (I'm sure you knew that though!) You could feasibly build a similar raised bed for the cost of two 16' composite boards and a few screws so your estimate may be right on target. The people who would find this useful would be those who just want to dabble in gardening who may not necessarily have the time to build on for themselves (which admittedly doesn't really take long anyway!)

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  6. It does look easy to put together and I'll bet it lasts which is a big plus for people who are just starting. I think having a raised bed that starts to fall apart after a couple of years could cause those who are still learning to just give up.
    You gardening assistant sure seems to enjoy her work, and she has her own little gardening gloves!
    Our "official" raised vegetable beds are made with cinder blocks and pavers. Yes, we put some money into that but I know they'll never rot. If needed, we can remove a block or fix one that has moved easily since they are just sitting there. They are a grea width for sitting on to work in the garden as well (and for walking on to).
    Looking forward to the next post.
    I use newspapers too but don't have grass clippings like that. Looks simple.

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  7. I agree Dave, raised beds are the way to go if possible. I have two very long ones and one veggie bed and they all do wonderful with none of the problems that ground beds have.

    Eileen

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  8. That sure looks like a winner. Sure wish I had a couple but they would have to be much higher.
    I really like your helper.

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  9. Dave,

    I want to build a raised bed garden to put on my deck and I need ideas for the design of the bottom. Should it be a solid composite board bottom with small spaces between the boards for drainage? Should the bottom be raised by an 1" or more so I don't have a constant moisture problem with the floor boards of the deck?
    would you line the bottom with fabric cloth and then a layer of gravel for drainage? What would prevent the roots from penetrating the bottom and creating an unsightly mess?
    Would appreciate your thoughts.

    Dale

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey Dale! I hope you don't mind but I used your comment as a subject for a post. Great idea!

    Here are my suggestions for your raised bed project.

    I hope that helps!

    ReplyDelete

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