Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gardening: raised beds

Remember this post, sharing a new favorite blog of mine which makes it seem easy peasy to build your own furniture and stuff?

Well, if not, go check out Ana's amazing work over at Knock-off Wood

She's been posting all sorts of plans lately for outdoor use - adirondack chairs, an outdoor sectional "couch", tables, benches, chairs...you name it.

One post a few weeks ago focused on raised beds for gardening. She posted plans and shared some reader photos, and I was inspired.  I got home from work, picked up the boys (who love a ride in the truck), and we headed off to the Home Depot.  (LOVE that place!)

I had a plan in my head that was nothing like what Ana had posted, but I knew it would be perfect. It's just too easy for it to go wrong.  I wanted to build some of these boxes to hold my garden for two a few reasons. Most importantly, personal laziness.  And love of my back.  And these two:

And because a traditional garden is so...permanent.  And permanence gives makes me itch and scratch.

Most often, these raised beds are long and narrow, and somewhat shallow.  My parents built some this year that are 6 feet long by 2 feet wide, and just under 12 inches deep. 

Due to the reasons listed above, and that I wanted to put a few of them at the end of my driveway which is 13 feet wide, I decided to make my beds 4 feet by 4 feet by 3 feet deep.

I purchased 4- 4x4 posts (6 feet long), 12- 1x12 pine boards (8 feet long), and a one pound box of deck screws.

And here's what I built:

Total time in production: less than 2 hours.

Waiting for hubby to get home to help me drag move them from the garage to the back yard: 4 hours.  They're heavy!

I didn't make them complete boxes, just frames.  I wanted to have the drainage of the ground at the bottom.

I did not, however, want to fill all 42 cubic feet (times two!) with straight dirt, and had another idea, anyway.

When my parents built their boxes (and when they've built them in the past), they filled them with a layer of different materials, including sticks, cardboard, newspaper, grass clippings, manure, and, of course, dirt.

So I started my layering with bark leftover from this project, then some skinny branches a friend gave me after pruning some trees.  I cut these up into smaller sticks to make a nice layer on top of the bark, shown here:

I have buckets and bags of grass clippings and pine needles to layer in next, once our crazy wet and windy weather calms down a little bit.   Then we'll add some dirt, mix in some old dried up manure, and get planting!

The friend who begged me to take shared the branches also shared these thornless raspberry starts, one bucket of which will be the first thing to go into a bed:

I currently plan to fill half of one bed with raspberries and the other half with blueberries (an experiment with something not easily grown in this region!).  The other bed will have strawberries, possibly some zucchini, a few tomato plants, a few sweet onions, and a small herb garden.
You can see both garden boxes in the background of the last picture.  I'm thinking I may build one more box, this one long and skinny, but just as tall, to sit to the right of the other two with a walkway in between.  Maybe I would plant flowers in that one, or possibly make that the box for the mounds of zucchini and squash.  Any thoughts?

It's been a few years, but I've finally got the gardening bug and I'm so excited! 
I'll post more pictures as I get them planted.


Alea said...

Hi! Kara told me about your blog and since I'm a newly addicted blogaholic, here I am! Sounds like you're having fun in your yard. Good for you for building your boxes. I always think I have to leave that stuff for my husband, but I need to toughen up and just do it! So I dont' know about the weather down there - but there are types of blueberries that will grow in mid to northern ID. MillerNurseries.com has a lot of options. I haven't looked for a while, but they did have different types of blueberries for different regions.

I'll keep stopping by!

Dorese @ Dorese's Pieces said...

Thanks for the advice, Alea! I checked out MillerNurseries.com and they have a great site!

Cindy Orlandi said...

Dorese, This is Mom and Pine Needles is NOT a good thing to add unless you are planting items that need an acidy soil like azaleas and Rhododendrons sp? You will need to add alkaline things to balance them out. I think bone meal is alkaline but ask at the nursery.
good job! I had Dad build mine and Mark even helped when you were there 3 or 4 years ago. We had to do it to level the ground on our hilly backyard. Also sounds like you need more boxes to plant all of that. Why put blueberries and raspberries in a box? They grow tall anyway! Good Luck Love Ya!

tonksfam said...

I think the long skinny box will look perfect with those other two boxes. Great job! Are you doing real squarefoot gardening, then? If you need any tips, don't hesitate to call! And, you know, don't hesitate to call even if you don't need tips ;)

Pam said...

The layering is such an innovative idea (and SMART too!) :) Great job!

Stephanie Lynn said...

Love these! I can't wait to see them filled. You did a fabulous job on the boxes! Thanks for joining the Sunday Showcase! I greatly appreciate it! ~ Stephanie Lynn

M. Walker said...

Very nice. I recently built one our yard but it is only six inches deep and instead of relying on height to keep dog paws out I built a chicken wire frame that fits on top. Your way would have been easier, I should have checked here first.

Tru said...

Nice. I love garden projects.