Updated: Mar 16
This post is for you who are thinking of building a raised bed this year. There are a few things that you need to think about first when building a bed. Here are a couple of tips and tricks that can make it a bit easier and less costly.
First thing is where to build it. You want it easily accessible, close to a water source and most of all, in all day sun light if possible.
Second thing is what will you grow in it? Why does this matter? You don't want to have a shallow bed for a root crop, but a shallow bed would be ok for a leaf crop, such as greens. So determining your height is important. One thing to keep in mind is if you are building them for ease like looking forward to older age gardening, then you may want one tall enough that you could sit on without having to get down on the ground. You also want it the width that is easy to reach from both sides. You don't want to have an unreachable strip down the center. 🙂
You should use a pure building material. Even though pressure treated is a normal go to, it has been treated. I have seen that it is ok to use it if you line the box with some kind of liner or heavy plastic. Cedar is one of the best because it also will last a long time without a quick decay.
Make sure you make it so that it is braced well and even tied together side to side on the inside. This helps to keep the sides from spreading from the weight of the dirt once it is filled. Also, you want to lay a lot of cardboard in the bottom to act as a grass and weed barrier. This ensures the worms can eventually work their way up but keeps the existing grass and weeds from coming up.
Now filling it... this can be costly. You want a good soil, but wow that is a lot of bags of compost or garden dirt. Here is my timeless tip…. Hügelkultur…. What's that? I am glad you asked! Its all about nature, how does she do it? Look around, look in the woods, look in old fields. If you have been following me for a while I have talked about different "out of the box" gardening methods. I have talked about and showed you my ruth stout beds, the back to Eden method and now this Hügelkultur. Hügelkultur is the idea that you make a bed by using organic matter laying around without tilling the land. If you were making a bed in your garden, you would drag old logs, branches, leaves, old pieces of wood, compost... whatever you have. lay it all in a slightly dug out hole and then cover it with the dirt you took out. This makes a wonderful growing environment for your plants to thrive. There is drainage, because you have put the large stuff on the bottom. There is nutrients available because they are breaking down right under the plants and the filling also acts as a moisture retention to the roots of your now flourishing plants. So, what does this have to do with your new raised bed? This is what spawned this post. I had to drive thru town today and do you know how many paper lawn bags are just sitting by the road? Oh my gosh that is an instant garden bed! Jackpot!! Make your raised bed and instead of filling it all with bags and bags of dirt, fill the bottom 1/3 with some big sticks, blocks of wood or old logs in the bottom first then add these bags full of limbs, leaves and top with good dirt! You have just saved yourself a lot of money and will have a wonderful growing bed in no time. As always DO NOT FORGET TO MULCH! It is all about saving time, money and energy.
I hope that this helps someone who has been toying with the idea and just do it. Just start small and with one then go forward from there. Happy gardening guys!