Constructing a Raised Bed

square-footCreating a raised bed is an easy way to get started on growing vegetables. To see photos and video of an example of a raised bed, click here.  To build a raised bed, follow these easy steps:

  • Start by choosing a sunny location where your raised bed will go.
  • Decide if you want to buy something premade or make your raised bed yourself. Below are some premade options and books on how to construct a raised bed yourself:

  • If you decide to build it yourself, next design the shape of your raised bed.  It will need an open top and bottom, and you can do it in any shape that you want. You are building a form to pour soil into.
  • Draw the bed on paper, measure your available garden space, and add the measurements to your drawing.  Lay out the shape in the area where you are planning to put your raised bed to create a “footprint.”
  • If you want to make it yourself, you can use just about anything that will hold dirt. You can use recycled lumber, railroad ties, bricks, rocks, or a number of other items to hold the dirt. However, using lumber is generally the easiest and most efficient method.
  • Gather your needed supplies and cut to fit. The sides should be cut to your desired length and at least 24″ (60 cm) in height.
  • Connect the sides of your bed together to form the shape of your bed. If you are using lumber, consider using 4″ x 4″ (10 cm x 10 cm) posts cut to size to serve as the corners of your bed. Then, you can simply nail or screw your sides into the corner pieces. This method will increase strength and help ensure that your raised bed stays together once dirt is placed in it.
  • Cut a piece of gardening fabric or weed mat to fit to reduce the amount of weeds that will grow in your bed.
  • Place your raised bed form over the footprint already created.
  • Fill the bed with soil.  Add some composted chicken manure into the bottom of the bed and then layer potting soil on top of the nutrient-rich compost. You can cut costs significantly by using some soil (up to 50%) from other parts of your property. Plan on filling at least 1/3 of your raised bed with compost or composted manure.
  • Mix in dry organic fertilizers (like wood ash, bone meal, and blood meal) while building your bed.
  • Start planting!  You probably want to map out what plants you are going to use before you put anything in the ground.  You can start things from seed indoors first (follow instructions on the seed pack) or you can get starts at a local nursery.