Gardening is such a fulfilling venture. There is nothing as rewarding as harvesting the food from your own garden and seeing it on your dining table to be consumed by you and your family. Yes, from the garden to the plate is an experience I really enjoy. I don’t have enough of that experience though. I wish that more than 70% of my food came from my own garden. Maybe I just need to plant more. There is really no excuse. Space is small but there are ways to overcome this hurdle and one such way is by planting my vegetables in raised bed. Find out how to build a raised bed vegetable garden so you too can enjoy the wonderful garden to plate experience.
What is a raised bed garden?
A raised bed garden is all the rage nowadays. It is a method of farming in which freestanding crop beds are placed above the level of the existing ground. The beds are usually a square or rectangular frame mostly constructed of wood but many other types of materials can also be used. It basically is a large wooden box without a bottom. The box is then filled with quality soil; usually a mixture such as top soil, compost, peat moss. The soil mix would vary depending on your needs.
Even though most raised beds are square or rectangular, there is no limit to the shape. So what if you want a round bed, or maybe be a half circle. You might even want a star shaped bed. There is no limit. If you can imagine it, you can certainly go ahead and build it.
Why Build a Raised Bed?
Why would you want to build a raised bed? Here are some reasons.
- For one thing, it makes you garden look neat and pretty.
- Also, with a raised bed garden, you can plant lots more food in a smaller area. No space is wasted on things like walkways. Your vegetables can be planted over the entire box.
- Speaking of space, a raised bed garden is perfect for areas that don’t have much yard space.
- Because the bed is raised, you don’t have to do that much bending and scrunching down as with a regular in-ground garden
- You can sit comfortably on the side of your bed and do your gardening. How cool is that!
- You won’t waste water when you are watering your plant. No more watering the driveway and the pavement and everywhere else where no seed is planted. That’s what usually happens with the in-ground garden where water is sprayed over a large area just to ensure that your plants get some of the water.
- All your plants are in one area and you don’t have to walk up and down these long rows to tend to your crop.
Let’s get on with setting up your raised bed
The first thing you have to consider is….
You need somewhere that is somewhat level and most importantly it must be a sunny spot. Your garden should get at least 6 hours of direct sun each day (unless you are growing some shade loving plants).
Next you need to consider the…..
The length, width and depth is dependent on what you plan to plant and how much space you have.
Most beds are about 4 feet wide. It can be a little less, but it shouldn’t be more. You need to be able to access all your plants without having to step into the bed and trampling and compacting the soil. Since your arm is approximately 2 feet long, you will be able to reach and tend to the plants in the middle of the bed. If the bed is wider than 4ft, you can see where difficulties may arise.
Some beds are 4ft square. Some are rectangular with lengths such as 8 feet, 12 feet, or more. The truth is, your bed can be as long as you want it. There are no restrictions when it comes to the length.. The only factor that comes into play here is how much space you have.
It is also up to you to decide how deep you want your bed. Just ensure that it is at least 6 inches deep. Most beds however are more in the region of 8 to 12 inches deep or more. It depends on what you intend to plant. If you are planting vegetables with shallow roots such as lettuce, the 6-inch bed will be sufficient. If however, you are planting deep root vegetables such as carrots and beets you will need to have the deeper beds. If you want to play it safe, just go ahead and build deeper beds. It certainly won’t hurt your shallow root plants.
What kind of material
As mentioned earlier, many different types of materials can be used to make your raised garden frame. The most common type used is wood, but other materials such as bricks, stone, corrugated metal, wicker, concrete, even fabric can be used. As a matter of fact, some raised beds do not even have a frame around them. The soil is just mounded up until it reaches the required height.
Best type of wood
The best type to use is rot resistant, untreated wood.
Untreated wood is preferred because the treated wood might leach harmful chemicals into you soil and into your plants. Just be mindful of the fact that they won’t last forever.
Both cedar and redwood are great chioices as they add a beautiful look to your raised bed garden and at the same time have a natural resistance to moisture, bugs, and rot. Although these materials will still break down over time, you will still be able to get five or more years from a properly built cedar or redwood bed, and depending on the climate, some might even last more than ten years.
How to build it cheap
There are ways that you can cut down on the cost of building your raised bed.
Wood can be expensive. Fortunately, there are other options besides wood for your raised bed. Old left over building blocks can be used. Rocks stacked on top of each other can also be used. Discarded plastic water tanks can be used. As you look around you will be surprised how many things you can find which will be able to contain your mound up dirt.
Speaking of dirt, the soil to fill the bed can be very costly. However, if you have your own compost heap, you can cut down on the cost. If you have good soil in your yard don’t be afraid to dig it up and add to your mix as well.
Fill the bottom of your garden box with a layer of leaves, grass clippings, straw, wood chips and other organic materials which break down and act as fertilizer for your plants.
Use stones and other material at the bottom of the bed. Not only will it improve drainage but it will also take up some of the space so that it will need less soil to fill up.
Ready to assemble gardens
Some of you might not be very handy with the hammer and the saw. Woodworking is not your cup of tea. Not to worry. Even if you are not equipped with the tools or the skills to build a raised garden bed from scratch, you don’t have to be left out. There are companys that actually pre-make the frames and all you have to do is just assemble the pieces. As easy as that.
If you like to dabble in woodwork and you decide to make the raised bed frames yourself, here are some of the tools and material you might need.
Tools and materials
- Circular saw
- Tape measure
- 2×4 lumber (since the most common frames are made from wood)
Make it from scratch
Are you excited and eager to go out and make you own raised bed garden. Watch this video from Lowes to get ideas on how to go about this project.
Also you can find their step by step instructions here
Off the ground or waist high beds
If you are still challenged with bending in the garden you can decrease the need to bend by simply adding legs to your bed. You can make it as low or as high as you want it to be.
If you have an energetic dog who is always chasing through your garden, then that would be another reason you would want to add legs and raise the bed off the ground.
Even if you are confined to a wheelchair, you will still be able to do your gardening.
Quick and Easy
Are you new to gardening and want to try your hand with a raised bed garden? Well check out this video by Epic Gardening. He will show you how to build a cheap raised bed in under 30 minutes and inspire you to get going with your project.
So what do you plan to plant in your garden? Have you had success with raised bed gardening? Let us know in the comments section below.