Raised garden beds boost vegetables above potentially waterlogged grounds. Not every gardener deals with a high water table, but there are other good reasons to plant in raised beds:
- They are easier to keep free of encroaching grass than ground-level beds.
- Elevated soil warms earlier in spring and drains more quickly after a rain.
- Soil doesn’t become compacted because you don’t step on the growing area.
- Raised beds offer easier access for planting, thinning, weeding, and harvest.
Ideas to remember for spacing:
Build your beds somewhere that receives at least 5 to 6 hours of daily sunlight (the more, the better!). Orient them north to south to prevent plants from shading each other out. Beds should be at least a foot wide, though no more than 4 feet across to make weeding and harvesting manageable. Six to 8 feet long is typical and cost-effective. Ten to 14 inches is an ideal height to accommodate strong roots. Leave at least 2 or 3 feet between beds for walking and wheelbarrow access.
You want the kind that’s dark, rich, and loaded with microorganisms. Fill your beds with a mix of 50 to 60 percent good-quality topsoil and 40 to 50 percent well-aged compost. Before each new growing season, test your soil for pH and nutrient content. You can buy a kit at most home-improvement stores. If your test shows a need for additional nutrients like nitrogen and potassium, raise levels by working in amendments such as bone meal and kelp. Dress beds with an additional ½ inch of compost later in the growing season to increase organic matter and boost soil health.
Pressure-treated lumber and railroad ties contain chemicals like arsenic and creosote that can leach into your soil. Instead, use untreated wood. It isn’t as durable, but the brilliance of a plank-and-rebar design (see below) is that each individual wall is easily replaced. Try naturally rot-resistant varieties of wood, such as oak, cedar, and redwood.
The beauty of this particular raised bed build is that it is cheap and easy to build. The wood and rebar will cost you no more than $50 if you’re using untreated pine planks, and the entire build can be completed in less than an hour’s time. The untreated pine might only last 5-10 years, but due to the nature of this build, each board is easily replaceable without taking apart the entire bed.
For a 4-by-8-foot bed, you’ll need:
Two 2-by-12 planks, each 8 feet long
Two 2-by-12 planks, each 4 feet long
12 pieces of rebar, each 2 feet long
A rubber mallet
Newspaper or cardboard
Soil to fill the finished frame
- On a level section of ground, lay the boards down with their inner corners touching. Stand one long board on its side, and, using a rubber mallet, hammer two pieces of rebar 1 foot from each corner, a few inches deep into the ground.
- Prop up the short sides using a piece of rebar at each center for temporary support. Next, prop up the second long side and adjust the alignment of your frame as necessary. Then hammer rebar a few inches deep 1 foot from each corner of the second long side.3. Hammer rebar a few inches deep a foot from each corner of the short sides and remove the temporary supports. Add two pieces of rebar 2 feet apart along each long side. These will reinforce the frame when it’s filled with soil.4. Hammer in the 4. rebar until 6 to 10 inches are exposed above ground. Line the bottom of your frame with newspaper or cardboard and wet it thoroughly. Finally, fill your bed with soil to within a few inches of the top.
Here is my dream garden beds!
My family has been gardening for about 5 years now! Each year we learn what not to do, and what we need to do. Our very first year we started out as newbies. As you can see we had no fencing protection to keep everything out of our garden! We used basic sticks, and really could have used some better dirt.
However, my husband was a good sport, and hoed the dirt for me…much more work then it looks like this way. I would not recommend this way if you can help it.
As you can see, the kids really loved gardening, and gives them a lot of good experiences learning, and bonding with one another! It is a group effort for the kids to fill up large pales of water and walk them over to the garden daily! The struggle was real..however click here for a DIY on how we upgraded our garden irrigation system in the future! The kids were much happier then trying to carry over 5 gallon pales of water!
With the bare minimal..our garden was a success.
This is our garden now as years have passed! Much more easier on the back. And my husband’s back as well as I do not have to send my husband out to hoe any longer!
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