Friday, March 27, 2009

How to Make a Raised Bed




Raised beds from 2007



Did you know that seeds sales are up by 30% this year? Yep, lots of people are starting to grow their own food again. With all the food scares in the past few years and the price of fruits and veggies going up, it's really the only way to have some control over your food and food costs. There's nothing as delicious as homegrown vegetables. Freshly picked lettuce for a salad or a warmed by the sun pesticide free tomato, nothing beats that!




Why make a raised bed? Raised beds warm up faster so you can plant earlier and they stay warmer longer so you can extend your season a bit. They also drain better which is great if you've got not so good soil like me. They produce better than traditional vegetable beds. They're also easier to maintain than a traditional bed and the soil doesn't get compacted because you don't walk on it.



You can make a raised bed out of concrete blocks, brick, stone or wood. Mine are made of wood so that what I'm going to show you how to make. It's really easy!



What you need:




Wood planks, a drill, measuring tape, saw, galvanized screws (like deck screws) so they don't rust, Optional - galvanized L brackets or small piece of wood for the corners (corner blocks).





L Bracket or





corner block



What Kind of Wood Should I Use? - I use pine. It holds up for me about 6-7 years. If you are in a very wet climate like the Pacific NW you may want to use cedar. There's a huge controversy about using pressure treated wood. Before it was a strict no no. Now supposedly they are treating the wood with something that isn't suppose to be harmful and leach into your beds like previous pressure treated. Do your research and see what other gardeners are using in your area or stick with pine (the cheapest) or cedar (rot resistant).



What Size Are They? - They can be any size that works for you. If you're going to do Square Foot Gardening (SquareFootGardening.com) he recommends a basic 4 x 4 ft. bed. But you can make them whatever size you want. I just remade some of my beds because they didn't work for me. I'm 5'4" and it was always hard to reach into the center of the bed. So I took some of mine apart and built narrower beds. They were originally 4 feet wide which is average. They are now 2 1/2 wide. You can also make them as tall as you need. You can stack two on top of each other if you're gardening on concrete or really really bad dirt.




Old bed size on the left new on the right


Like with most things, there's more than one way to make a raised vegetable bed. This is my way.


Step One - Cut your planks of wood to what ever size you decided to make your beds.



Step Two -Measure the depth of the wood you're using and then if you're using corner blocks like me, transfer that measurement to your corner block wood and cut 4 corner blocks for each bed.






Step Three - pre-drill your the holes for the screws - believe me it makes it much easier if you take the time to do this step! 3 pilot holes is enough.



Step Four - screw the corners together using the corner blocks on the inside corners until all four pieces are joined.



That's it! So Easy!

Here are my new beds in my vegetable garden. I kept two of my old beds on the other side.


I made the paths in between my new beds just big enough for my little garden seat that I got for my birthday. This way I can sit and weed and I don't have to kneel or bend over!



One of my new beds planted with peas, lettuce, and swiss chard (not up yet).



Country Living Magazine



Check out this You Tube video for inspiration. See what you can do with an urban lot!








46 comments:

Terri and Bob said...

We have three raised beds for flowers but now I want some for veggies!! Those make your garden look so neat. I bet it is easy to tend to it as well. Thanks for sharing!

Becky K. said...

Thanks for this!

We are planning to put a few raised beds out this year. We only get sun in the front and I wanted something that looks decent while producing the produce that my daughter and mother-in-law crave.

Melanie said...

Great post! I only have 1 raised bed in my yard for vegetables and I have to cram in as much as possible there. 90% of my yard is extremely shady so that's the best I can do. I love your beds though!

vintage at heart said...

I have been considering these due to our hard clay soil. You make the process look so inviting and simple!!! Looking forward to seeing yours progress!
Have a blessed Weekend!

Linda's Blue Gate said...

Wonderful...... there will be raised beds all over blog land.....
Now do you put weed cloth down and do you buy top soil to put in the beds?

WE have horrible clay soil.....
Have a great week end
Hugs
Linda

the pleasures of homemaking said...

Linda, I really don't like weed cloth. I put some down a few years ago inbetween my beds and all that happens is that the weeds seed on top and it's even harder to pull them out! I'm actually in the process of pulling it all out and starting over.

My vegetable garden used to be a traditional gaden without raised beds about 10 years ago. So the whole thing was rototilled. I would remove any grass before setting my raised bed on top. Or better yet, I would smother the grass a season before so it decomposes and adds to richness of the soil beneath.

I compost so I don't normally buy a lot of bagged dirt. But this time around I did since I was remaking my beds and used some of the dirt in the old beds to level out the planting area.

Manuela

Adrienne said...

Thanks, Manuela - My sweetheart will build my raised bed boxes tomorrow and soon I'll be enjoying the harvest of fresh veggies! Your post was very helpful. I appreciate you sharing your own experiences. ~Adrienne~

flmom said...

You've done a lovely job! We started out with wood raised beds a few years ago, but they didn't hold up to all the water/rain we got from the hurricanes in 2004. We're using concrete blocks now.

I saw a brief news report last week about an organic seed company (I can't recall the name now and it was one I'd never heard of). Their sales had jumped so much their staff of 6 has grown to a staff of 15 and they are still having trouble keeping up with all the orders. I'm not seeing any difference in the area where I live though. I'm in an agriculturally zoned area - quite a few people have farm/grazing animals, but hardly anyone grows a garden (out of well over a hundred homes I can only think of 3 of us who are doing so).

Milah said...

Your raised beds look wonderful. We are going to plant strawberries in raised beds this year. My only concern is I'm afraid they will tend to dry out since the sides are exposed. Not a problem though if I stay on top of it....the bed will be close enough to the house that I can reach it with the water hose.
Nice post!

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Thanks for sharing.
Glenda

Rebekah said...

Thanks for sharing this! I'm planning at least one raised bed for our backyard this year. I'm a little concerned because the area where I plan to put it doesn't drain very well and gets pretty soggy when it rains. I hope the raised bed will keep that from being a problem.

glorv1 said...

We don't have raised bed, but I like the way they look. This weekend we are putting in our vegetables. I think most of the chill is gone. Thx for sharing and have a great weekend.

julie & joe said...

Thank you! I printed it off. I asked my husband to make a raised be or two and he said he didn't know how.....now he does.

Salsa Mama said...

I'm so glad you posted this! We are getting ready to make some of these and this helps a lot! I am also short (shorter than you!) so GREAT advice on the size of the beds. Thanks!

Sand Flat Farm said...

I may try raised beds later - perhaps in the fall.

I really love your little garden seat that has the wheels on it. What brand is it? and where did you get it? I need one of those!

Melissa Wertz said...

I love this post. I want to do this, the only place I have for a garden, right now, is too close to my leach field. Not good.

I need to do more reasearch into that. Thanks for posting.

Torey said...

Do you layer the soil i.e. lasagna gardening, or did you just use potting soil? I'm dying to try the raised bed method asap.

Barb~Bella Vista said...

Manuela, thanks for sharing this. Can't wait to show this to my husband.

Barb

Vee said...

Thank you for the information. I think that, like you, I'd prefer the narrower bed. I'm off to watch the video now.

Ally0005 said...

We've never had raised beds. Our area is so small I wonder if this would work better and keep our dogs out we always have to put a small fence around the garden.
Oh, I found out the Goodwill in Austell opens up April 2.
Ally

diXymiss said...

We're finishing a closet project this weekend, but hoping to put in our raised beds neXt weekend. I'm so eXcited! ThanX for the tip on using cedar here in the soggy Pacific NW ~ very good to know!

Bonita said...

I started doing this a few years ago. I have always been a brown thumb, but even a brown thumb can grow food when you mix your own soil. I did the square foot gardens, but might try your longer narrower ones. I'm a shortie too.

Lyn said...

I love the idea of the wood beds but I am SO not technical. Would it be easier to do it with concrete blocks instead - just wondering the easiest way or even if any other ways are not healthier options? (I don't want anything seeping into the soil if that would be harmful.)

I'm sure your garden again will be just gorgeous. Looking forward to more pics down the road. Thank you for sharing about this.

Robin said...

I think this post was great. I also have raised beds similar to yours and love them. I'm thinking I will have to try the narrower size next time I add another bed. It seems more easy to handle. Happy gardening!

Amanda @ Morning Glory Cottage said...

Thanks Manuela!
I had only thought to use railroad ties for the beds and didn't think to use pine. Much cheaper. I have a friend who through illness has become disabled, but she would love to garden. I'm going to do some raised beds for her (actually the carpenter son will do them)and get her one of those little seats. I think she'll really enjoy them. Thanks for stopping by. I haven't forgotten your package. I'll explain it all in the letter. Gotta run.

Tanya said...

Hi Manuela,
I like your raised beds. We're about to install several of them and I keep telling my tall (6foot3in) husband that I (5foot3in) need the beds to be not so wide. Now I'm going to direct him to your post as proof!

salmagundi said...

We have raised beds already planted with peas, lettuce, spinach, and with 6" of snow on them as of last night. Those seeds are going to love that moisture, and will probably sprout next week!!!! Sally

Gena said...

I am so glad you posted this. My son is coming next weekend to help me with raised beds for my backyard. I get full sun all day, which is very HOT for us, but wonderful for veggies. I also have nothing but hard red clay so I will probably make mine a little deeper than yours.

I also love your little gardening scooter - looks like it will be a big help in weeding.

Kelli said...

We made raiesed beds last year and had great success. I can't wait to plant now!

Betsy said...

This is making me in the mood to garden! I have a bunch of strawberry plant starters being shipping very soon...I need to get out there and get the beds ready!

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/Lavender Hill Studio said...

Great tutorial! I have raised beds and love them! We started doing them because of the hard red clay.

Mary Isabella and Kiley too! said...

I think I will give this a try. Our yard has a drainage problem and this just might be the answer...m..

Amanda@Imperfectly Beautiful said...

I did a raised bed last year and loved it. I want to add 2 or 3 more this year. Thanks for the tips and how to's!

~Amanda

Chrissie Grace said...

I've been wanting to do this for a long time. Thanks for the inspiration and how-to!

Gypsy aka Tam said...

We are planning on some raised beds this year. We've outgrown the pots we've been using the last couple years. I'm not a great gardener by any means but I'm looking forward to learning as this project progresses. Thank you for sharing your raised beds with us.
Have a great day,
Tam

Momma Magpie said...

Love your blog! I also have a raised bed. We built it out of river rock. Lots of back labor getting, unloading, and building the bed. And now I wish we would have made it larger. But it looks so pretty, especially with all my healthy veggies growing in it!

The price of seeds has gone up. But if you buy heirloom you can seed save. That's really a smart way to do things if you're into being self sustainable.

I bought canning supplies this year so I really need my garden to be bountiful. Wouldn't it be nice to never have to go to the grocery store again? It's possible, isn't it!? The recession is teaching us to be more mindful of the Earth, and it's making us return to old ways...

Thanks for sharing!

BarbaraRyan said...

Thank you for posting this. It's my first Spring in my townhouse and I am taking on the challenge of planting a garden. I need to make some raised beds and this post is so helpful.

Steve n Vickie said...

I've always wanted a box garden. Thanks for sharing the how to's.

Lady Katherine said...

LOVE IT! I got hubby to come look, he still will not build me any, we shall see. lol A few years ago, I would have built them myself. lol So fun looking at your garden. First time on line in a few day. I have sheet rock in dining room and he is mudding it now. Yeah!

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

This was such an informative post. I'm starting to think about some place in the yard where I could do a raised bed for some veggies! Thanks so much for all of this great information. laurie

LMH said...

Hi-
Great information:
Question-
someone made me a box, but it has a bottom. I drilled large holes in the bottom. Do you think that will create a problem?

Should I just undo it and start over?
I am so excited to get started.
Laura
www.whitespraypaint.blogspot.com

Storybook Woods said...

Great post, we have fixed up our raised beds, but it is tooo cold to plant. Clarice

Spencer Family 6 said...

Manuela, what a lovely garden. Thanks for sharing your raised beds. I just started gardening last spring. I grew the best heirloom variety of tomatoes. I am a little slow at it this year though due to life's happenings.

Chiot's Run said...

Raised beds are the wy to go for sure. Our garden is on an old driveway & camper parking area, we knew we'd never get the soil ammending well enough to grow so we built up!

One great place to get lumber is a wood salvage place (if you have one close by). My beds are all made of old barn boards. They're nicely weathered and they're each over an inch thick. Not to mention no buying new products so they're more eco-friendly.

Suzanne said...

These are great! We made some last year and the garden sure is a lot easier to care for when it is "contained" in a raised bed. Haven't planted anything yet....it's too cold here!

a pot, a thought & a smidgen of dirt said...

I'm just starting to make my raised vegetable beds, made a few last year but umm, they need more screws lets say. So this is great, thanks for the post.