Gardening is a great way to be self-sufficient. But, where to garden is always the question. Traditionally, people plant gardens in long rows. While that is a possible way, many of us do not have the space needed to grow the volume of produce we want. Raised beds have become the new way to garden. Raised beds have built above the ground using lumber or some other type of building material. Raised beds are popular because they don’t have the same issues row gardening has (e.g. poor soil or size issues). Raised beds can be built on patios and other challenging landscapes. You will find you will be able to grow more types of plants in quantities you deserve. You can also use soil which is tailored for your specific crop.
The size of your beds should not be wider than four feet. This allows you to be able to reach from both sides easily. The length can be just about anything, but eight feet is easier because most lumber is cut to eight feet long. Twelve inches high is a great height, but you can make it taller if need be. In fact, many people make them three feet tall to help reduce stress on the back. Untreated lumber should be your pick. There is a chance some chemicals could leak into the soil and be absorbed by your plants. Cedar is a great choice because it will last more than fifteen years and is naturally resistant to insects.
In order to build this simple raised bed you will need the following items: 3 – 1inchX6inchX8 ft boards; 6 – 2inchX12inch stakes; Hammer/Drill; Stainless Steel Nails/Screws; Mallet; Pitchfork/Tiller; Rake; Soil 500 lbs. Be sure you can get a water source to your bed. Before we begin building, it is a good idea to kill all the grass or other plants that are now growing on your plot. You can use plastic or some other dark material to cover it up for a few weeks. After you get your plot ready, you can start building your raised bed.
First, Mark out the area you will use for this bed. This bed will be 4 X 8 feet. Cut one of your boards in half. This gives you the sides of the rectangle. Use screws or nails to join the wood to form your rectangle. Use your mallet to hammer the stakes in the ground at each corner. Do the same to the last two stakes in the middle of the longer sides. You are now ready to fill your new bed with soil. Be sure to include some good compost to kick-start your new bed.
You should now figure out and plan a path around your bed. Three feet is a good size for a path. Place some landscape fabric on the ground and cover it with mulch. You will find you can use these pathways even if the weather is sour. Some people even install water delivery systems to make water even easier.
Now, you have built your first raised bed. You will have a great garden going in no time. Your garden will be the envy of your neighbors and your family will be well on its way to being self-sufficient.