Building Wood Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens
Written by Todd Fratzel.
Updated Spring 2011: So I’m getting ready to plant our raised bed vegetable gardens again this year. This will be the 3rd season with these and they have been wonderful. If you’re going to build raised bed gardens be sure to pay special attention to my warning below about using pressure treated lumber. DO NOT USE PT Lumber! Good luck!
Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens
We love fresh vegetables so we wanted to plant a small garden. Instead of planting a really large garden we decided to plant several smaller raised bed vegetable gardens.
I decided that I wanted to try using raised bed vegetable gardens instead of just planting in the ground. The reason for this is two fold; first the soil in our back yard is only a few inches deep followed by clean beach like sand, and secondly this approach will allow better access between plants for weeding and harvesting.
Raised Bed Design
After reading several sites on raised bed vegetable gardens we decided to make three gardens 10 ft long by 5 ft wide. The 5 ft dimension allows easy access to reach into the beds without having to crawl into them. This will give us 150 sq. ft. of planting area which is similar in size to our previous garden.
I decided to build the boxes out of 1×10 cedar with 2×2 posts in the corners to secure it to the ground. I chose cedar because of it’s natural resistance to decay when exposed to the elements. It’s worth pointing out that it’s not a good idea to use pressure treated wood for vegetable gardens as you run the risk of contamination from the preservatives in the wood.
Construction & Assembly
These raised bed garden boxes are really easy to do and require basic tools. This project took me about 3 hours from start to finish.
First I used my sliding miter saw to cut the cedar boards to length (you could use a simple hand saw to cum them). Then I pre-drilled three holes in each board then screwed them together using 2-inch long stainless steel screws. Stainless steel hardware is the best product to use with cedar (galvanized will stain). I screwed the entire box together before going to the next step.
Next I drove 2×2 corner posts into the ground several feet at each corner using a sledge hammer. Once the corner posts are installed I used a long builders level to level the box. Start at the highest grade level and screw the box to the corner post. Then work your way around the box leveling and screwing the box to the posts. You may need to fill in some extra soil on the outside of the box in areas where the grade falls away from the bottom of the box.
Finally I cut off any extra length in the corner posts so they were flush with the top of the 1×10′s.
All that’s left to do is fill the boxes with good quality loam (soil) along with some fertilizer and you’re ready to plant the garden. We’ll be planting tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, radishes, peppers, beans, squash and herbs.
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