Building A Raised Garden Bed

A raised Garden Bed, A Hot House, and an Automatic Watering Sprinkler —  the perfect setup for any gardener!

What do you do when you love gardening but you just had a hip replacement  and you will never again be able to get down to soil level to get the work done?

Well you may want to do what my sister in New Brunswick did:  have someone build you a raised  garden bed ( “a raised wooden box large enough to add soil and plant a garden” built at the perfect height so that she can continue gardening without having to bend much). If you are as lucky as she is, perhaps that person can also put in place not onlya raised garden bed but also a hot house and an automatic watering system.

Click on the picture for a better side view of her hot house and raised garden bed

A <b>raised garden bed, </b> a hot house, and a watering system -- in small back yard This raised garden bed is 51 inches wide, 149 inches long, and approximately 12 inches deep.

Building The Raised garden Bed

1. When building a raised garden bed,  one should buy  red pine  or red cedar. ( Normal cedar can be used, but it will rot faster than the other two.)  Of the three, red pine is the strongest and will last the longest i.e. will not rot as fast as the other two.

In this case, Jacques (her son) chose to make this raised garden bed with “rough” red pine.  He needed some 4×4 for the pillars (legs), and some 2×6  boards.  (Again they don’t have to be fancy.  The “rough” red pine boards work well)

2. To make the box frame of the raised garden bed, he nailed together the 2×6 red pine boards standing on edge.  (Depending on how long and how wide you want this raised garden bed to be, you cut the boards to the required lenght (2 for the end and 2 for the sides, and nail them together in the form of a box.)

3. Then he cut long 4 x 4 beams into six  4×4  beams/posts/legs  —  each 22 inches long,  and nailed one of these inside each corner of the box and one at the middle of each side.  (Remember the box frame is still on the ground and the legs are sticking up in the air. No bottom to this box yet)

3. Next he  made sure he nailed strengthening “cross boards”  in place from side to side across this frame  (minimum 3 cross boards), and then he  uprighted this structure so that the “legs” of the box were now touching the ground and holding up the box frame.

NOTE: When Jacques set up his raised garden bed, he did not realize that he would need  to put blocks of cement 12 inches square and minimum 2 inches thick under each of the six 4 x 4 beams/posts/legs (whatever you want to call these).  He only realized this when during the summer, the weight of the raised garden bed was slowly causing the legs to sink into the ground.

(You may want to remember to put cement slabs in place when you build your raised garden bed. . . especially if you have heavy clay soil under the “legs” of the raised garden bed. A few heavy rain storms would change this clay soil to mud and the posts holding up your raised garden bed will begin to slowly sink into the ground.)

As a temporary fix, Jacques put reinforcement blocks at different spots  under the garden bed to stop the supporting posts from sinking into the ground. (Quite a job when the raised garden bed is full of soil and growing vegetables!!)

4. The box is now up on its legs and the box has only 3 or 4 cross boards under it. Now it’s time to build the bottom of the box with a bunch of 2 x 6 red pine boards by setting them from side by side or from end to end. Personally I think from side to side would make the structure even stronger and the center less likely to sag after a few years.

These boards are now nailed on top of this frame and arranged from end to end.  Putting these boards tightly side by side allows excess water to simply seep through the tiny gaps between the 2 x 6 boards and fall to the ground thus avoiding  overwatering  the plants. On the other hand, the boards must be set side by side tightly enough that the soil is kept in place.

If you look carefully at the next picture, you will notice this layer of boards on top of the frame.  It looks like it is meant to  separate the frame from the above  layer of  boards, but that was not Jacques intention. He just decided to save on cutting so extended long boards from end to end.

5.  The fifth step is to nail pieces of  2 x 6 red pine boards upright on the oustside of the box frame upwards. The side boards will be nailed to these 2 x 6 pieces to keep the garden’s side boards in place.

The length of these pine boards will depend how high you want the raised garden bed to be. Jacques figured that a 12 inches deep raised garden bed  should be enough even for deep rooted vegetables such as carrots; therefore to have the garden box itself be 12 inches deep and the side of the box frame  is 6 inches, so each upright piece would have to be 12 inches + 6 inches minimum = 18 inches long.

In the above picture, you can see four of these  2 x 6 boards extending upright on the outside of the raised garden bed.  If you want a box 12 inches deep, you will have to add a few inches to the length of these pieces so that they can be nailed securely to the frame.

6. The sixth step  to building a raised garden bed is to add the sides of the box itself and secure the boards in place. Once Jacques’ side boards were nailed in place,  his finished raised garden bed had enough place to put into it  12 or so inches of soil, homemade compost,   or whatever else his mom wanted to add.

As a last step, The front section of Carmel's gardenyou could add a flat layer of 2 x 4  red pine ( or other type wood)  around  the very top of the box to provide a resting area and to lock together the side boards even more securely.

You may want to put a layer of gardening cloth in the bottom of the box before adding the soil as a further precaution to keep the soil in place. However, it’s not necessary.

When all was done, my sister’s raised garden bed stood approximately 34 inches high, just the right height for her.  Click on the picture to have a better view of what the end of the raised garden looks like.

Here are my sister’s comments:

It makes it easy to weed and I really like it.”

“My hot house is made out of glass on both sides, plastic in front and back with a window in back and the top is plastiglass. I have a rain barrel with a pump that has a timer to water the garden twice a day or however often I want. Jacques (my son) bought the timer because he forgets and/or does not have time to water the garden. So if there is no one home the garden gets watered anyway.

In this last picture you will have a better view of her rain barrels and her compost bin.  Notice beside her wheel barrow the aerating tool which can be used to add air to her compost every so often.  You can read more about this tool at
http://supercompostingtips.com/adding-air-to-composting-pile/

Although her back yard is very small (as most backyards are), she can still make her own compost to feed her vegetables, use rainwater to water them, grow her own seedlings in her hot house, and enjoy the best vegetables in the world: organically grown lush, healthy, nutritious Vegetables!…thanks to her son Jacques…..

Now don’t you think this little raised garden bed with the automatic watering system is the best setup in the world?

for more reasons on why use raised beds, visit http://plantsandgardeningtips.com/raised-beds.

Marcie


Bio: A gardener since the 70’s, Marcie Snyder knows that there is no comparison to growing your own vegetables and plants organically. Therefore, to help the budding gardener, she has dedicated four blogs to explaining different aspects of organic gardening. In addition, besides the FREE ebook “The Complete Guide to Organic Vegetable Gardening” (OVG GUIDE), Marcie also offers a very comprehensive step-by-step ebook detailing 4 methods of composting. Check for more articles at http://organicvegetablegardeningguide.com/blog

Please note: You can use my articles on your blog as long as you use it as is without changing any of the text and you include my bio with my website link.

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