Sunday, May 31, 2009

Garden Project - Raised Veggie Bed

I promised you fine readers years ago that I would cover how I build my raised veggie beds. Well, I finally got around to making a second one a few weeks ago, so now I have pictures to show!
MATERIALS: 15 3x4 8' long ACQ treated landscaping timbers (they have the corners rounded; use 3x6 if you want a larger seating area - do not ever use railroad ties for edible gardens!) and 20+ 2' long rebar rods (these are hard to find - you could use 3' or 4' or get longer pieces and cut them down - a pain in the patootie). Total cost: just under $84.

TOOLS: Tape measure, chop/miter saw, long level, wood boring bit a little smaller in diameter than the rebar, hammer drill, sledge hammer, flat shovel.

Here is the bed I started two years ago. See my awesome patch of garlic? The rest is pretty much weeds except for some volunteer leeks from last year's leeks. I had laid down treated boards (leveled, of course) then stacked bricks on top. It worked pretty well, but I wanted something more stable and permanent.

My son and I tore down the old and replaced with the new as we worked our way around the bed. I was moving this bed a little on the garlic end to make it parallel to the raised bed next to it (my bad from two years ago when I laid the second bed cockeyed in haste to plant ;)

Make sure that you carefully level the first layer as the whole bed is dependent on this layer. I leveled it all the way around as well as leveling it to the other bed.

I made 4' x 16' beds since the lumber is 8' long and you shouldn't have beds more than 4' wide to be able to reach all parts of it from the edges. For the ends, I just chopped 3 pieces of the lumber in half. For the sides, I wanted to alternate for strength, so I start with 2 full pieces end to end, cut a piece of lumber for the next layer so that I have one full piece in the middle and two half pieces on each end of it, then the last layer is back to two full pieces.

Now here's where the 20+ on the rebar comes in. There are two ways to tackle the attachment - you can either drive in rebar after the second layer and then again for the top layer or wait until the top layer to do it all in one. I did rebar as I went along, but in hindsight, I would get all the lumber laid out and do it all in one to save the hassle and money on rebar.

Where ever there is a joint, drill a hole to either side of the joint and drive a rebar through. Our drill bit was only long enough to go through two boards, so on the top layer, I drilled through the top and middle layer, pulled the top board off and finished drilling the hole all the way through the middle and bottom. Do not attach any rebar until you have all the holes for one piece of lumber all the way drilled through all three pieces!

Here is my helper with the finished product. As you can see, we alternated all the lumber, even the corners. This adds strength and stability. These corners will not pull apart. That bed next to it is over 8 years old; all the lumber is still where I originally put it.

Now it is just a matter of finishing off the bed with some compost and we are ready to plant!

I actually have already finished that part too. I have even gotten both of these beds fully planted: 14 tomato plants, 8 Packman broccoli, 12 pepper plants (orange sweet, red sweet, yellow sweet, jalepeno), 3 Fordhook straight neck summer squash, 2 Black Beauty zucchini, 1 spaghetti squash, all that garlic, an equal size block of American Flag leeks, two 8' rows of mixed lettuce, a 2' row of more garlic, a 4' square of Maxibel green beans, a 2' row of Vates kale, eight 4' rows of various peas, and Bloomsdale spinach and Mammoth basil everywhere!! Yay for me!


Blogger Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Sylvana,
Wow, what a project! Hooray for you and your son for pulling it off so spectacularly! We should probably do our veggies in raised beds, but we just use the old jungle gym area in the back of our yard (which we inherited), though Fernymoss expanded it a bit this year to accommodate the extra plants we're putting in this year.

Your veggies sound great, can I stop by when they're ready? :-) I tried leeks last year but they didn't do much for me (and I love em). This year we're trying acorn squash, along with even more sweet corn and tomatoes, and of course lots of peppers. I need to get some more tomatoes in this week, along with some herbs, but we're in this rainy pattern again in early June, so it's keeping me indoors!

I'll be looking forward to more posts on how your beds are doing! Do you have good luck with garlic? We keep thinking about getting some going, but never get around to it!

6/02/2009 1:38 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Iowa VG, my leeks don't get very big. I'm still trying to figure out how to get them as big as they are in the store. But they grow great for me otherwise. In fact, I didn't even plant them this year I had so many seedlings from last years leeks!

I have similar luck with garlic, not as big as in the store, but it grows great otherwise. It doesn't matter that the garlic is small though, it tastes better than from the store, even though the starter garlic was just a grocery store garlic bulb that I broke apart and planted!
Garlic is nice too in that it can be planted among your other veggies and repels pests.

6/02/2009 10:10 PM  
Blogger ForestJane said...

Very cool!

Do you rent out your son? He looks like a good helper. ;)

And the kitty litter around my squash is on the OUTside of the wading pool... I would'a been leery of eating kitty litter flavored squash too.

6/09/2009 4:07 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Thanks Jane! I have rented him out a few times as a matter of fact. He is a good helper; a GREAT helper if there is money involved!

6/10/2009 11:26 AM  
Blogger Wayne Stratz said...

wow, you will be blessed with some tasty food this summer.

6/14/2009 6:51 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Wayne, I have already been harvesting spinach, and the broccoli should be ready later this week. My Early Girl tomatoes already have tomatoes started on them - in Wisconsin! The peas haven't even started blooming yet!

6/14/2009 7:44 AM  

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