Raised Bed Gardening
Those of you that have been following my blog awhile might remember my earlier post Ready..Set..Grow... That post briefly explained that my entire yard is a hill which makes gardening a little more
difficult. Let’s say challenging.
Last year I started with a simple 8′ x 4′ raised garden. Being it is on a hill it has to be buried on one side in order that the top is level. If I didn’t bury some of it, all my soil would wash to the bottom and spill over the side. Plus it would look rather silly and unprofessional.
There are other reasons to use raised beds besides hilly terrain.
- Better Drainage. This really is great for people who have compacted soil. Raised beds can hold the soil above water-logged areas.
- Warmer Soil. Soil in the raised bed will absorb the heat from the sun from the sides and not just from the top down which will help lengthen the growing season.
- Better Quality Soil. You will be filling the beds with the optimal soil and compost matter for growing. So, it doesn’t matter what kind or how compacted the soil on your property is.
This year I wanted to expand it a bit. Though that brings new challenges because the farther I go down the hill the steeper it gets. So, instead of another 8′ long bed, I chose to make them smaller and have (3) 4′ x 4′ beds. That way I would not have to dig as much. The board over a 4′ span does not drop as much as an 8′ span when keeping it level. Basic geometry.
Building these boxes could not be any easier. To make a 4′ x 4′ bed, purchase (2) 8′ long boards. Make sure the width is at least 8″, but I would go with 10″ or 12″ if you can afford to. The deeper boxes give you more depth to work with if you want to grow things like carrots or plants that send roots down deep.
I bought my wood from Lowes and they will cut your 8′ boards in half for free. They are suppose to charge you after the second cut, but they never do. I just pull my pockets out, frown and try to look pitiful. It only costs a quarter per cut after the second anyway.
Even better than the small savings is that I don’t have to bust out my saw when I get home and it will fit in your vehicle better at this length.
Don’t buy preasure treated wood because the chemicals used to make the wood resistant to the elements will leak out and into your soil. Just buy the cheap wood and replace it after 3-5 years. Or you could buy cedar and get a few more years out of it, but it is double the price.
You could also use untreated railroad ties, bricks, stone, concrete blocks or about anything that can hold up dirt and withstand weather. Get creative.
With your wood cut to the 4′ lengths all you have to do is screw them together with 3 deck screws per corner.
One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the others, by the time I finish my song?
I guess the new boxes have a bit of weathering to do before they match the original.
Yes, I know I have grass in the beds. I thought about digging it up, but instead am taking corrugated sheets and laying them inside. This should smother the grass which is a lot easier than trying to dig it all out. Plus it acts as a weed barrier.
The bed farthest down the hill was a problem. It really drops off quickly in the spot it was going. To get the top level I would need to bury the high side below the surface of the hill. That won’t work.
So, I actually made the box and then took a saw (yeah, had to bust the saw out anyway) and cut the box in half on an angle. After separating the box, I flipped one over and screwed them back together. This made the box high on one side and short on the other. But, when placed on the hill, it worked out to level. Same amount of wood as the others. I know! Why am I not out designing rockets?
(patting myself on the back)
Here is another view, this time looking downhill.
I placed logs and rock on the sheets to keep them blowing away (it was really windy). I will remove them before adding the soil.
All said and done it took me about 2 hours, most of that was digging.
My soil is a mixture of materials. Humus, cow manure, topsoil, mushroom compost, regular compost, peat moss and vermiculite.
All of my veggies should find a little something they like in that soil cocktail.
Plants like this are the reason for my labor. It won’t be to much longer.
In 6 weeks your new home will be ready for occupancy.