The easiest way to build a raised bed- attach 4 boards together and fashion a 4 foot by 8 foot rectangular garden bed. This size garden bed is large enough to grow many crops over 2-3 seasons in New England and is incredibly simple to build. I bought untreated pine boards from Lowes to keep costs low and to eliminate the possibility of chemical contaminants.
Materials needed to build this very simple bed:
- 2 2x12x8 in. untreated pine boards
- 2 2x12x4 in. untreated pine boards
- 4 2x12x4 for interior corner braces (not pictured below)
- 1 carpenter's square
- 12 exterior screws, at least 4" long
- 32 square feet of soil, (ideally 16 compost, 8 vermiculite, 8 peat moss)
- 4x8 hardware cloth,
- heavy duty stapler
- wirecutters to cut off any excess hardware cloth
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Square, screws, impact driver, foot. Foot not necessary.[/caption]
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Using the square to put two pieces of wood together at a 90 degree angle[/caption]
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75% of the way there[/caption]
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Drilling in the screw- I pre-drilled holes using a drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw. [/caption]
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Three screws at each corner of the bed[/caption]
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Prior to building the bed, I dug about 12-18 inches into the rocky soil. I did my best to loosen the soil (it was highly compacted from tree-removal vehicles) and removing many rocks, the bed was ready to fill.[/caption]
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I filled the bed with a mix of compost and loam. I added additional sifted compost that was made here last year.[/caption]
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Raking the bed flat[/caption]
Because the bed is built from untreated pine, it will likely last a few years and then need to be replaced. It may also warp on the sooner side, as it is just 4 boards screwed together. Oh well.
This particular bed is located within a fenced area, on top of garden soil. If I were to construct the bed in a more open, unfenced area, I would do several things differently.
Staple hardware cloth to the bottom of the bed prior to filling it with soil. Hardware cloth is not fabric, but a metal fencing-type material with square openings 1/2" in size. Putting this on the bottom of the bed prevents small rodents from tunneling through the bottom of the bed. It can also prevent roots and rocks from migrating through the soil into the bed. Finally, it helps to contain the soil you place in the bed.
- I would add a different mix of soil ingredients into the bed. In his book, Square Foot Gardening, Mel Bartholomew suggests a mix of: 1 part peat moss, 1 part vermiculite and 2 parts high quality compost. This is a super mix and makes the soil light, fluffy, friable and super easy to work with. I did not do this because I have chosen to amend the beds at the farm with leaf mulch and other compost I produce over the coming years.
Add a small fence around your bed. You know how much YOU love fresh veggies? Groundhogs, rabbits and deer love them more. Nothing is sadder than returning home from a hard day of teaching to see the groundhog inside the garden eating the last broccoli plant that you have been tending to for months. This happened to me. I know, shocking. This was the day I found out that if you chase a groundhog and bark like a dog, the groundhog will show you its fence climbing skills. 6 foot fence scaled by this brown furry creature. What a show-off.
Wondering what to plant in this incredible garden bed with 32 square feet of space? Check out "Kate's Curated Seed Collection" !
This is my collection of non-GMO, all organic seeds from my 2 most favorite New-England based seed companies. I have chosen varieties that I have grown for years and work well in New England. Included in the package is an instructional packet to help you plant seeds, care for the growing plants, and harvest your produce. If you get the seed collection, you will also join an email list to receive timely updates about when and what to plant, how to identify new seedlings, etc.
The collection has just enough seeds to plant a 4x8 bed several times over in a year. It includes seeds to be planted right away, (parsley, beet, sugar snap peas, 20 varieties of lettuce, spinach, kale and carrots0. For the hot summer months: squash, beans (yellow, purple and green!), sweet pickling cucumbers, nasturtiums (edible flowers), marigolds and basil.
If you choose to purchase the collection, it will be placed in the mail to you within 24-48 hours. Happy Growing!