Raised Beds for Anyone!

Raised Beds for Anyone!
Garlic and dead nettle chilling in the raised bed in the west yard

Here’s a simple method to building a raised bed that you can accomplish in a weekend or less.

Materials: wood (treated or untreated/salvaged/whatever suits you) Decent dimensions are 2×6 planks for depth and having something that’ll hold up for a few years.
Stakes. You can make them or buy packs at the big orange store for a few bucks.
Cardboard or lots of newsprint. No glossy. No tape.
Screws. Self driving makes things easier.

Once you’ve sited where you’d like your garden and determined your bed sizes (I recommend no wider than four feet and six to eight feet is a decent length.) If you opt for four feet, make sure you can reach it from all sides. The idea is to never step into this bed and compact the soil. If your soil seems pretty dead (only a few worms, compacted, etc, throw down some laying hen feed or sweet feed in the sited area. This will attract some beneficial bugs to the area. Lay out your paper or cardboard. Make it several layers thick. This will help keep grass from infiltrating. Extend these layers a foot or so beyond where the border of your bed will be. Use some string to mark off your edges and drive in some stakes. About 2 stakes per four feet of length is a good ratio. Drive in the stakes, park the 2×6 against it and screw the board to the stake. Cap off your ends with the same method.

Sweet. Now we have a box. What goes in it? If you’ve been composting, add finished compost. Well decayed leaves is another option. Check with the folks in your area who have goats, horses or sheep and see if you can pick up some of their finished manure and bedding.
You can get bagged soil from the big orange store but that would be my last preference. In my experience, any soil like medium is a good start. You’ll get various results but that’s how we learn.

As you get the hang of that style there’s plenty of variations. None of my raised beds are identical because they each occupy a different microclimate with space considerations.
Some folks may want to consider this method if they’re renting because they can be disassembled and the soil raked out and replanted with grass if the landlord desires. They won’t last forever, so do plan on needing to rebuild after 3-4 years depending on what materials you used. By then you’ve likely learned a great deal and will be ready to change or adapt your methods. Raised beds that are 6 to 8 inches deep will accommodate root crops, especially if you can keep your soil loose and well drained. I’ve also had great success with tomatoes, peppers, peas, lettuce, cabbage, sunflowers, okra and marigolds in a raised bed.

Beds can be built over the winter and even in early spring. It’s better to get started anytime than not at all!

If you’d like to do your gardening without all the stooping and bending, this method can be scaled up to basically a box that’s 3 feet tall. You can do all of your planting and harvesting while standing up. There’s versions that have cut outs where someone using a wheelchair or a walker can still get right next to their bed.

If a raised bed scaled to your needs sounds like something you’d like to have built, contact us at strongrootsresources@gmail.com All of our services are on a sliding scale and we’d be happy to get ya rolling!