Raised garden beds also known as garden boxes are a boon to home gardeners. It helps us to grow more variety of vegetables (and/or flowers) in less space. We have been able to pack our plants to much higher densities and therefore get more produce out of our garden over the last few years.
What are the advantages of Raised Garden Beds?
- Get more produce from less space as the roots of the plants in adjacent planter boxes won't compete for space.
- Preventing/better control of weeds from garden soil.
- Prevent soil compaction.
- Good drainage system.
- Preventing soil erosion during heavy rains.
- Enables you to use high quality soil instead of having to test and/or amend the existing one in your garden.
- The soil warms up earlier in a raised bed, hence one can plant earlier and extend the growing season
- The vegetable plants are spaced in geometric patterns, much closer together than in conventional row gardening; hence a boon for home gardens with minimal space.
Why build your own?
Firstly, it's much cheaper than buying one. Secondly, it can be made to fit your garden dimensions precisely.
Before you begin - Things to consider
A good plan will go a long way in saving time and money when making your raised garden beds. Things like types of plants you are planning to grow and the amount of produce - whether just one or two plants or enough to feed your family. This is essential to decide the space available thereby the dimensions of your raised bed. Tip: If you are new to this, begin slow.
. Create a rough sketch like the one given below at Cadagu.com
. Make sure to provide enough space between the raised beds to help you walk in middle or even enough for a wheelbarrow to carry soil.
Most vegetables prefer 6-8 hours of sunlight while few like Cauliflower, Swiss Chard and Lettuce do well with less sunlight. Fruits always need full sun. Don't forget the watering aspect of the raised beds. You can choose to do manual watering but for convenience we do dripping system for each box. Will get to that later.
Our personal preference is to avoid chemically treated woods. Growing at home is one of the best ways to consume organic, nutritious produce and chemically treated wood are counterintuitive. We have built our raised beds using Cedar and Redwood since its lasts for a long time and are also resistant to insects. Since Cedar is much cheaper than Redwood, we use the latter for only building corner posts and Cedar for the siding.
Our Dimensions for Raised Beds
We used 6 feet 1X2 Cedar boards and 6 feet 2X4 Redwood planks. Our dimensions : 6' X 4' X 1' planter box. Total for one box: 8 Cedar boards and 2 Redwood planks.
Cut the redwood planks into 2 feet chunks
That, by the way, is the engineer of the house at work - The husband! The pleasure of loitering around while someone is working ( for once) is unparalleled - although if we are honest here, I was working too - taking pictures! That's a precise art too ;)
We used a electric saw to make our life much easier. Handy to keep these tools around if you are a handyman.
Neat 2 feet Redwood chunk all ready. Repeat likewise to get 4X2 feet planks.
Since we were building 6 feet long planter boxes, we did not need to cut the cedar for the length. But our width was 4 feet hence we cut 4 planks of 4 feet each.
Electric saw in action again!
Place the various pieces as shown in the picture. There are two 6 feet cedar planks on the right/left side (total 4) and two 4 feet cedar planks on the top/bottom (total 4). On each of the four corners there is a 2 feet redwood planks (total 4)
We used deck screws to attach the planks together
We used a drill driver - can use regular but its a time and effort saving tool to have around especially if you do DIY often enough.
Attach the cedar to redwood
Just complete the rectangle.
Should look like this once done. Now all that's left is fill this with good soil, some good home compost and needed fertilizers and you are set to go! These woods have been with us for many years and still going strong.