The New Home Economics


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How to make a raised bed garden

Yesterday we helped my parents install 4 ft. x 8 ft. raised-bed garden.  They haven’t had a garden for years and wanted to get back into it.   Here’s how we did it:

Lumber
3 2x12x8 ft. construction-grade pine boards
1 2x2x8 ft. contstruction-grade pine board
2 1/2 in. ceramic-coated screws
Total cost: $30

1. Cut one of the 2x12x8’s in half.  Cut the 2x2x8 into 6 pieces (each is 16inch long), and cut one end of each at a 45 degree angle (see picture).

2. Assemble your garden structure upside down, as seen here:

raisedbedconstruct

Using the 2×2’s as braces on the inside of each corner makes the whole thing sturdier.  You screw your bigger boards to each other as well as to the 2×2’s, and put your two extra 2×2’s in the center of your longer board.  This will help with some of the outward pressure that the dirt will exert on the longer boards.

raisedbedoutline

3. With the bed still upside down on the spot where you want it, make an outline with your shovel.  Then move your structure aside, rip up the sod inside the square, and break up the ground a bit.

4.  Tip your garden so that the spikes point into the ground and jump a little bit on top to sink those stakes into the ground.  I suppose you could use a rubber mallet, but come on, how fun would that be?

raisedbedmentaldance
5. Fill with black dirt.  You will need 1 cubic yard.  My dad has a pickup so he was able to go get it from a local garden center for $35.

raisedbedblackdirt
Raised beds seem like they’re getting more popular all the time.  They offer a number of advantages including increased drainage, decreased soil compaction, better productivity per square foot, they warm up sooner in the spring, oh there are tons of reasons.

Because we used regular pine boards, this particular one is not going to last forever.  If you have the means, I would highly recommend using cedar boards.  But they are like 3 times more expensive than pine, so be aware of that when planning this out.  I personally would not use “green-treated” lumber for a garden that I’m going to raise food in, since I wouldn’t want to risk leeching chemicals into my food.

Total cost of this project: $65

This is not a super big garden but it’s a great size to start with.  Eventually you could add another one (or two) and then suddenly you have this really convenient way to do crop rotation, etc.

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