Building Raised Beds

Raised garden beds give plants the opportunity to send their roots down deeper, spread wider and take up more nutrients. The plants thank us by producing better harvests in smaller spaces.

This year I’m putting in my permanent garden. All winter I’ve been working to design the best layout for the beds, knowing I also want to install a hedge around the perimeter. I’ve tried several different bed sizes and shapes attempting to maximize the growing area, keep a 2’ path between each bed for access, ensure the beds have good directional access to sunlight and thinking about the narrow slice of sun the reaches the garden in early spring and late fall. I used Excel to try these layouts since it’s easy to create a scaled drawing using each cell to represent one foot.

I chose to use Douglas fir even though it’s a softer, less durable wood because going with cedar would have doubled the cost of the project making it unfeasible. I will swap out rotten boards down the road as needed but at least I can get half of the beds in this year by going with a more economical material.

I used untreated 4x4s for the posts and untreated 2x6s for the rails. It’s important to me to stay away from pressure treated lumber because I’m growing food in these beds and I want to be as organic as possible.

I set the bed in place and put weed barrier on the floor of it. Then I used gravel to fill in the gap between the ground and the bottom of the bed. I figured this would help with drainage too.

 

After building four beds I filled them with 7 yards of premium, organic gardener’s soil and then planted my veggie starts.

This year I planted four varieties of tomatoes, lettuce, three kinds of kale, rainbow chard, beets, two kinds of eggplant, strawberries, two kinds of mint, carrots, basil and nasturtiums.  

Hopefully all this planning and bed construction will make for a bountiful harvest this year. Wish me luck!

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