Thursday, May 13, 2010

Raised Beds

We're hoping to have a pretty decent vegetable and herb garden this year. The local farmer's market is great and all, but there are some things that it lacked this past year that we like having. We recently got a whole bunch of seeds from the Seed Saver's Exchange, and Hilary put them into little planters today, so it's high time we had a place to put them when they've sprouted.

I looked around a lot for information about building raised beds. They can be as simple as a bunch of 2-by-whatevers butted together, or as complicated much money do you have to blow? As it happens, and a recent run through the neighborhood I passed by a reasonably attractive raised bed that someone was selling. At only 2'x2', and with an asking price of $125, it was out of the question. But, it looked pretty good, so I mulled it over and came up with something similar.

I shied away from pressure-treated lumber. I searched around, and couldn't find a wood finish that I'd feel comfortable putting in a vegetable garden. So, bare wood it shall be. I did manage to score some reasonably-priced cedar, so it should at least age gracefully. This was my first time using cedar in a woodworking project. I can understand the attraction of an aromatic, rot-resistant wood, but I wouldn't say it's that nice to work with. It cuts easily enough, but is both fibrous and has some weird sap in it, which made drilling clean holes difficult. More than one of the corner posts ended up with splitting.

The tricky bit were the corner posts. I got another chance to use my second hand power drill and foot-long 1/2" bit!

I drove reebar into the ground so that the corner posts won't have a chance to move around. It took more than one pass to make sure the frame was square.

After the frame was together I laid down some weed cloth (so grass and weeds couldn't grow up through the new soil) and we filled the bed with a mix of peat moss, composted manure, and vermiculite.

One of the things I like about this design is that it has a top plate.

Unfortunately, with rough lumber and lacking a miter saw, the corner detail is not exactly fine carpentry.

But hey, knocking the corners always helps.

So now we've added two 2' x 9' x 6" beds to our back yard. We're planning to populate them using the square foot gardening method, so we're up to 36 square-foot plots now. It was also reasonably satisfying to make it myself. Considering how much time I spent bent over during the construction, I can't say that my lower back found it all that satisfying, but I'll feed it some red pepper later this summer to make up for it.


Beth said...

if only we had space for a garden...nicely, done!

Anonymous said...

Found your project from Apartment Therapy Re-Nest. Love all of the wood working you do - nice job.

Anonymous said...

Saw this on Re-Nest ( your daughter is adorable!