Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens
Growing fresh vegetables is something I’ve done since I was a kid. When I was a kid we had a huge garden that took lots of hours and hard work but provide our family with all the vegetables we needed. With my family’s busy schedule a huge garden isn’t a viable option for us so we decided to build some smaller raised bed gardens.
Raised bed vegetable gardens are an excellent option for people with small yards, yards with poor soil conditions, or yards with poor drainage. The raised sides of the garden allow for a suitable depth of soil, better drainage, and better access to vegetables.
With some basic tools and materials you can build raised bed vegetable gardens in your yard and start your own garden. It’s an excellent family activity and the “fruit of your labor” are great organic vegetables at a fraction of the cost.
Raised Bed Design
After doing some research 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. Each garden will be 50 sf which isn’t huge but can certainly hold quite a few vegetables.
For example, in one garden we are able to plant 8 tomato plants, in another garden we are able to plant 6 string bean plants along with 12 lettuce plants. With several raised beds you can plant quite a wide assortment of vegetables.
For this design I chose 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.
The corner posts serve two purposes, first they provide an effective way to stake the box to the ground, and second they provide extra material to screw the side boards to and stiffen the corner.
Construction & Assembly
First I used my sliding miter saw to cut the cedar boards to length (you could use a simple hand saw to cut 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 (corner of the box that touches the ground) 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 cut off any extra length on the corner posts so they are 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.