Friday, June 7, 2013

raised bed gardening for beginners

I've recently been sharing my expertise (that may be too strong a word) on gardening with a few friends who are interested in giving it go.  I promised that I'd get it all down on paper (this counts, right?), so here goes...

Although I've been gardening since I was a kid (we called it "yard work/yuck") I still absolutely count myself as a beginner.  I grew up on a farm with a really big beautiful yard, thanks to my mom's LOVE for all things green.  In retrospect, I wish, wish, wish that I had payed more attention to my mom's gardening genius, but I spent most of my time complaining and just getting the job done so I could move on to better things (sorry about all of the whining, mom & dad, I'm sure Carson will pay me back one day).

Ironically, gardening has now become one of my favorite pastimes.

And, now that I have a little garden assistant, we're all about the edible gardening.  You can literally see the vegetables grow overnight.  The ripe fruits and veggies are the perfect motivation to get him outside and helping me!

It all starts with a few 2"x8's and only a couple of hours.  You can build a bed in any dimension that will fit your space.  Our raised bed is 4' x 8'.

Building a raised bed is super simple.
Here's what you need to make one like ours (adjust sizes if necessary):
4 - 8' 2x8s
4 - 4' 2x8s
4 - 18" 4x4s
2.5" wood screws

I wish I had more pictures to share, but I built this last year, when my blog was just a little glint in my eye.  I'd be more than happy to answer any questions, just send them along (and if you've got my number, give me a ring).

There's probably no right or wrong way to do this, as long as you end up with some sort of rectangular-ish box.  Here's the general steps that got me to my finished product.

First, I grabbed my 4x4s and my 4 ft. 2x8s.  You probably want to do this near the location of your little garden, since it will be hard to move once it's built!
I screwed the 2x8s into the 4x4s, so the ends lined up perfectly.  See the pic above.
Once I had my 4 footers screwed in, I grabbed my 8 footers and screwed those in, lining them up with the ends of the 4 footers (again, see pic).   You'll notice that the 4x4s are longer than the bed so they can go a few inches into to the ground.

That's it!

The next step is to figure out exactly where you want your garden.  There's no moving it once it's filled with dirt!  The number one rule is SUN!!!  At least six hours for most of your crops!

Once I had found the perfect location, I lined the bottom with weed barrier.  I've heard you can also use newspaper (I bet it works, I wouldn't hesitate to take that route and save a little money).

Then I filled it with soil.  In the soil department I've found you get what you pay for.  Go for an organic potting soil.  Unfortunately, it's not going to be cheap (you'll probably need 10 bags of soil and 2-3 bags of compost.  I use a soil called Happy Frog (about $13/bag), mixed with some organic compost, and I'm having great results.  The good news is, next year you'll just have to add some compost to your soil and get to planting.

Speaking of planting...

my next post will be on the plants I've loved and the ones I haven't.  I'm all about easy and fast growing/producing.

You'll also get my thoughts on organic plant feeding and pest control (I've become a little bug crazy!) and directions on building a super cheap trellis.

Happy gardening!

1 comment:

  1. This is great, of course it counts as detailed directions...your friends have to visit your blog site to learn how to create a vegetable garden like the one you've built. I love the way it looks and it appears you have a green thumb. There are so many great looking things to eat! Thanks for this, if I ever have a sunny patch I'll refer to it.