Monday, May 25, 2009

A Raised Vegetable Bed - A Journey

Chris and Michelle asked me to contribute my experience creating a raised vegetable bed in our back yard. While my wife, Bridget, likes flower gardening, I like growing herbs and vegetables. I base a plant's importance on whether or not I can eat it. If I can't, it ceases to interest me, much to my wife's dismay.

Since my wife decided that there wasn't enough room to plant vegetables in the existing flower bed, so coveted because of its full-sun location, we ended up creating a new bed just for vegetables right next to it. My wife found an interesting article on the HGTV site about building raised beds. However, as you'll see, ours wasn't as elaborate.

Below are some diagrams of the design and dimensions (Sorry for the poor renderings, I was in a hurry). We ended up using untreated pine, though we wanted to use cedar because it’s a hardwood and would last the longest. The cedar planks, however, were very expensive and didn’t come readily available in the dimensions we needed.

The materials used were
  • (2) 1.5x3x12 planks
  • (2) 1.5x8x12 planks
  • (4) 4x4x12 planks
  • (16) 3/8 Carriage Bolts
We stained the outside, top and bottom edges of the frame to make it more water resistant. We didn't stain the inside because we didn't want the chemicals to leach into the soil.

*Disclaimer: As you'll notice in the images below of the actual construction, we messed up the on the corners and created a gap. Something to learn from in the future. Moral of the story: Measure twice, cut once.

After we bought the materials and assembled the frame, we marked out a spot on the lawn that receives the most direct sun throughout the day.

Because the area had some really nice grass that I didn't want to just rip up, we transplanted it to an area next to the compost pile that had sparse grass.

We set the frame of the vegetable bed into the hole created by removing the grass sod. We dug down a little further on one side (about 2-3 inches) to level the frame because our backyard has a gradual slope.

We then headed down to a local garden center and asked their advice on what to put into the box. They recommended we get 3 bags of stones for drainage, 14 bags of Bumper Crop organic top soil (a combination of soil, peat moss, and organic fertilizer), and a jar of Soil Moist Plus. The Soil Moist Plus is supposed to absorb water, and then when the soil begins to dry, it releases water back into the soil along with extra nutrients. We loaded up our VW bus with all our supplies, which filled up almost the whole car, and headed back home.

We first layered the rocks in the bottom of the bed and spread two bags of Bumper Crop on top. Then we sprinkled the Soil Moist Plus, watered it, and waited about ten minutes to give the gel beads a chance to absorb the water and expand.

We then spread the rest of the soil in the box but only wound up using 11 bags. We started out by planting asparagus, 5 zucchinis, 5 cucumber, 2 cherry tomato plants and a basil. The zucchinis and cucumber I sprouted from seedlings using a Jiffy Peat Moss growing kit.

We decided to put the cherry tomato plants closer to the asparagus because asparagus beetles hate the smell of tomato plants and could help ward them off. from what I've been told planting even one zucchinis or cucumber plants is one too much, so we might giving away a ton of vegetables to friends and family soon enough.

So that's it for now! More was added to the garden since these images were taken and will post them soon.



C4 said...

Looking good:)

Michelle said...

ROFL! "Poor renderings" my foot! I can't believe you rendered diagrams of your raised beds! :D Thank you for the marvelous post! Great garden you've got there. And you even got your VW in there, lol! Chris says you reconstructed it? Cheers!

Steven Ashley said...

Yeah, the bus was a junker about 8 years ago and it's taken 6 years of restoration, almost from the ground up.

I've taken some pictures of other herbs, etc that I grow around the yard and will do a segment on dehydration and pickling (for the cucumbers) in the future. Glad you like it my first blog ever. :)

Jen said...

welcome to the blog :)

Michelle said...

Ooooh, dehydration and pickling FTW!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful looking garden. I can't wait to come down from Vermont to see it!

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