Guest Article by NRP & Blue April 2, 2022.
Before I begin I want to make a few comments;
First of all, I want to thank Connie for the wonderful opportunity of allowing me to post Articles here. She has done a fantastic job on this BLOG for many many years, and I believe her work and thanks is well received. Please if you have a chance give her a HUGE “Thank You” for her efforts.
Second about Gardening, what these articles are for, I truly believe there is a Dark Storm on the horizon (take that for what it’s worth), and times ‘may’ be getting harder soon. Maybe one should really take a good hard look at one’s “Lifestyle” and think about where “you” are headed.
Lastly, then I’ll shut up (Dream On HAHAHA), I personally like a Raised-Bed/Container Garden for many reasons, but for the first 3, I like the fact that one does not have to crawl around on the ground or be bending over 90% of the time working the soil (talk to me when you hit your late 60’s. Next, do a little research on “Square Foot Gardening”, you will find that one can actually produce more produce and have a better yield in those “Containers” than in a HUGE plot of dirt whereas things are spread out 2-3 feet apart like I said, do some research. Now that does not mean that a Farm is to go all Raised-Bed. I have been doing Raised Beds for over 20 years now….. Enough Said.
PS: Weeding is the most difficult job in Gardening, IMHO, Raised Beds are 1000% easier to take care of than crawling around on the ground pulling weeds…..
As you can see from this Photo I have a Hodge-Podge of different Raised Bed containers.
I can NOT build a Garden into the ground without a HUGE Investment in leveling the Hill I live on, removing tons of Rocks, and importing several tons of “Decent” soil to start.
Obviously, the simple solution is to build Raised Beds.
Now let me say I’m not the richest person on the block, AND I’m very VERY Frugal with little cash I do have.
SO, as you will notice I scrounge a LOT for building materials, I gather things like Pallets (lots and lots of Pallets), 55-Gallon Barrels, 5-Gallon Buckets, Milk Creates, and all the “scrap” lumber I can get.
Ask around and you will be amazed what a few kind words, a friendly Hand Shake, and the willingness to haul “Stuff” off; you’ll be surprised how many Building Materials you can be given.
BTW, having Raised Beds has another advantage….. Being an “Old Fart” really saves the ole body from getting up and down off the ground. I did plenty of that when I was young, no need to do that anymore if ya can help it.
Lastly, there are times when you simply cannot just plow up a spot in the yard and Rototill that Garden Spot, a steep slope, billions of rocks, very BAD soil, and a few other reasons will add to the need for Raised Beds.
So, how about we start with the Building?
Well, one of the very first things most people do is put up a Good Fence.
Here are a few suggestions about a Fence.
I don’t care how good of a Fence you have “Critters” of some type are going to get into your Garden, expect it and you won’t be disappointed when it happens.
Deer can and will jump a 6-foot high fence in a heartbeat, Only ones I have seen that will keep Deer out are 8+ feet high, OR you can set 2 six-foot-high fences about 4-6 feet apart. This will not give the deer a place to land after jumping without landing into the second fence.
Rodents WILL dig under a fence in a flash, Moles, Badgers, Rats, Mice, and so forth can and will dig a tunnel to the Garden
Rabbits and such seem to squeeze through a 3” hole without a problem.
Birds, ohhhhh Yeah, birds will have a field day with new sprouts, newly planted seeds, and the like.
So after all that good news, yes you’ll want to put up a fence if nothing else to keep your ever-expanding Garden from taking over the entire backyard.
PS: make sure you put a Gate in the fence big enough to back the Truck in.
As far as My Fence, I don’t have one….
Another reason to have Raised Beds, the Rabbits and such don’t climb up the Beds and containers, the Deer are seasonal here and are only here in the Winter, they head to the Hay Fields across the river in the spring, and the Underground critters can dig through the Rocks, so all-in-all I’m lucky, the only thing that occasionally comes by is a Bear or maybe a stray Cow, but they do no damage.
Here is what I have come up with for the Main Raised Beds, good old Concrete Panels, I was lucky enough to get a bunch from a Contractor that was going out of business and purchased them cheap, VERY cheap. I got enough to put together (4) 4’wide by 20’long 2’high beds.
One can use good old 2” X12” pine or fir planks, or about any lumber you can find, do NOT use Treated Lumber, the chemical in the wood is to kill mold and growing “stuff” aka Plants. So DO NOT USE TREATED WOOD.
I have even seen people use 2’wide Pallets and placed Heavy Plastic on the inside to hold the dirt. Actually works very well.
Make sure you place a layer of good heavy reinforced plastic down before building the Beds, this will act as a Weed Barrier, yes Weeds will grow up the 2 feet through that wonderful soil you’re going to build, and the Plastic will help keep that ‘Expensive Water’ from simply dumping out the bottom.
As a GREAT Option, you can get these little gems, they are fantastic, but I will warn you they are very VERY expensive, around $180+ for a 6’X2’X2’ bed. Wayyyyy too rich for my budget for sure, but they sure do look good huh?
Ok, I’m going to show you a few ways to build supports for those 55-gallon barrels cut in 1/2.
Above is just some long pallets (12’ long) stacked up, notice the Rocks or whatever I could find to level the Pallets, Frugal remember?
Here again, I simply used a stack of Pallets using rocks and blocks of wood to lever the stack, basically, you can build your Stack about anyways you want to fit the area.
This is another group of Barrels, notice how steep the ground is, but no problem, just use more pallets on the down-hill side, also notice the large pallet on top.
Those HUGE pallets are a little harder to find, but look around and ask.
Another sample of what you can do with the support for those Barrels.
Please remember those Barrels filled with Dirt are going to be very heavy, so do not skimp on the pallets to hold them up.
Also notice the Trellis built over the barrels, which are for Beans, Peas, Cucumbers, So-On to run/climb, I will add vertical Twine to the framework after the seeds start to pop up.
Can ya tell I like using Barrels? HAHAHA……. AND free for the asking most of the time, do NOT use barrels that have had harsh Chemicals or Fuel in them.
The last thing on Barrels, you will need to drill holes around the sides near the bottom for drainage, I simply use a 1/2 inch Spade Bit and place the holes about 8 to 10 inches apart.
Milk Creates can be found all over the place, ASK for them, most of the time Food Stores and some Restaurants will have them stacked out-back. A lot of times these are not picked back up by the supplier, but make dang sure you ASK, do NOT just take them.
Again I use Pallets for the surface to stack the Creates on, but here I simply cut a few logs to the right length for legs. This also gives me places to toss “stuff” under the Creates.
I wrap a hunk of heavily reinforced plastic around the inside and place a piece of weed guard on the bottom to keep the dirt inside.
Good old used 5-Gallon Buckets, these puppies can be found all over the place.
Try a Painting or a Stucco Contractor a lot of times most General Contractors will have stacks and stacks of these.
Ok, you will need to also punch holes around the side near the bottom for water drainage, you don’t want to drown the plants. I also add 2 inches of Clean Rock in the bottom for drainage.
Notice the Support System? Pallets and a few logs on end.
Here are a couple of Heavy Black Tubs that someone gave me, that will work perfectly for Potatoes, I simply took out the plug at the bottom and filled about 3 inches with clean gravel, then dirt on top.
These should work perfectly for Potatoes, what ya think?
Well here is a really simple idea, just take apart a couple of those Pallets and build a Wood Box (without a bottom).
Like I said “Frugal” as it comes.
I did lay a hunk of that Plastic on top of a piece of 6X6 concrete mesh, this helps keep the dirt from pushing itself through the spaces in the supporting pallets.
I Raise Potatoes in these also, when it comes to harvesting, I just pull the box sections off and separate the Spuds from the dirt, a piece of cake.
Ok folks that’s about it on how I have built a Raised Bed Garden.
I know there are a few hundred ways to do all of this, but I’m looking to build inexpensive (Frugal) as I can and yet make a relaxing, fun place to Garden, AND get a LOT of produce from it.
I honestly enjoy the scrounging around, talking to folks about getting “free” materials, and all the goodwill people show when you talk about what you’re doing with the “Stuff”.
Tis kinda fun after you have a few folks that have given you stuff, then that Fall you come back with a few bushels of Produce for them, the smiles and “Thank You” you get truly make the heart warm.
I seem to be doing “Ok” don’t ya think?
Not a bad-looking Turnip, and just as tender and flavorful as you could very dream for.