Friday, January 30, 2009

Building the raised beds May 2008

When I first looked at this house with our Realtor, I picked out the spot for the garden. There's a spot that isn't in the back fence with the dogs, but also isn't in the front yard in full view. It's on the south side of the house and is pretty well screened from the street behind a retaining wall.

I decided one week in May that I was going to try raised beds, a first for me. I learned about lasagna gardening online, and thought it sounded worth a try. After a lot of internet searching and a lot of reading on the Gardenweb forums, I decided to get started. I found used redwood 2x6s for free on Craigslist, and started on the plan! The beds are 4' x 10' and 3 boards high (about 15.5"). Each corner has a piece of wood that I screwed the boards into, as some of the board ends aren't in the best shape. I also added a piece of 2x6 inside the center of each long side. This adds stability and helps pull the somewhat warped boards in line with each other. Building with used lumber can make for interesting projects. It may not the prettiest up close, but it serves its purpose well. I lined the wood with plastic sheeting in the hopes that it will help it last longer.

I filled the beds with what organic materials I
could find at the time. The bulk of the filling is well aged horse manure (came chock-full-o'-worms too) that I got from a family who lives a few miles up the road. They advertised the manure free on Craigslist. I started with a layer of paper and layered chicken manure (that was at least 6 months old if not older), leaves and pine needles, horse manure, coffee grounds, coffee chaffe, and a little fill dirt. I don't remember the exact order, but I tried to keep the layers to about 2-4" thick and alternate "greens" and "browns" as best I could.

The photo shows the 2 beds after they were filled. The sticks in the right bed are for the peas and in the left bed is my makeshift stick trellis. All of the materials for these 2 beds I got free through Craigslist and Freecycle or were items I had on hand.

I also built a potato box from old fence boards and 2x4's. The plan was to mulch the potatoes with straw and add the 2 open sides as the plants grew. I left the back side intact since it was against the retaining wall. I left the right side intact because the compost bin will be going just to the right of the bin.

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Matthew Steinhoff said...

I, too, just built my first raised vegetable garden. It took a lot less time that I would have expected. This is my first attempt at gardening of any sort. I'm really excited about growing my own vegetables.

I guess I'm hooked because I'm already thinking about expanding into a second box. The first box is four feet by eight feet. I ran out of room the for beans I'd like to plant. So, I gotta go bigger.

—Farmer Matt

Phloxy said...

Thanks Amy! I've been wanting to do raised beds for a while now; my flower beds at the old house were raised, held by the same retention wall around your yard. It was great. Your boxes are beautiful - exactly like what I picture mine will be. Mary