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Last Updated on:  12/16/2015 04:00 PM



 

Consideration for the Permanent Raised Beds in My Victory Garden

Why go the trouble of making raised bed?   Answer:  a greater harvest!

  • Can create your own "soil mix":  I can "create" the right kind of soil mix to suit the needs of specific crops. Some plants like sandy soil others do not.  
  • No Soil Compaction:  I can keep the soil "fluffy" because I will be able to reach all areas of the bed without every having to walk on the soil.
  • Promotes drainage & conservation: I'll water each bed and not the pathways. At some point, I'd like to install a drip irrigation system in the raised beds.
  • Easier to yank out those weeds:  When those pesky weeds & grass find their way into the beds, I'll be able to easily yank them out.
  • Longer growing season:  As with all raised beds, I'll be able to plant earlier (higher soil temperature).  The soil warms up quicker in the spring and will be warmer into the fall.
  • More produce:  I generally follow the principle of "square foot" gardening.
  • No more mud: With landscape fabric in between the beds (later with gravel), mud will not be an issue.  So no more mud! Yeah!!
  • Cover the frames: At the end of the season, I can ready the beds for the winter by covering them with plastic to prevent weed seeds from finding a home in the raised bed.
How big?  That is the question.  I've determined that bed 8' x 4' will be the right size for me.  I can easily reach the middle of a 4' width.  The lumber will be rough cut cedar 2" x 8" x 8'. 

I am filling with only 1' of "soil mix" - that is soil from raised beds built by the previous property owner, compost acquired from Red Oak Landscaping, and cotton bur compost called Nature Life.  This gives a 4" clearance to protect the plants from the Lubbock wind. 

How much garden soil will I need?  Basic math comes to play here.  First I have to determine the total volume of each bed.  4' (Width) x 8' (Length) x 1' (Depth) = 32 Cubic Feet.   For the record, 27 cubic feet = 1 cubic yard. 

I plan to construct 20 beds, so I need 640 Cubic Feet or 23.7 cubic yards total.  I'll see how far I can get with the existing soil and compost.  I purchase 1.3 cu. ft. bag of Nature Life per bed from Little Red Riding Hood Nursery.

Because I am building 18" deep beds, I will put landscape fabric in the bottom of the boxes.  I am trying my best to prevent Bermuda grass from growing up in the raised beds.

What are the dimensions and supplies needed?

  • Size: 4' x 8' x 16" frames.  That is two stacks of 2"x8" lumber. 
  • Materials:

    6 8' boards per bed - 4 for the length and 2 8' board (cut in 1/2) for the width.   

    4" x 4"  - 4 24" posts placed in each corner with about 8" buried for stability.

    32 4" lag screws & nuts and washers per bed. 
     

  • In order to prevent the boards from splitting, hubby drilled pilot holes first (I made a template)
  • We leveled each bed by pounding down high spots.
  • I'll add trellises (made of painted PVC pipe) to  beds so that vine crops can grow up instead of out.
  • The trellises will provide protection for lettuce and other tender crops.
How much will it cost?  That's another critical question.  They won't be cheap, but after the initial expense, they will be permanent.  The previous owners left a pile of dirt and three raised beds 4' x 30' each.   With a lot of effort, I can transfer that dirt to the new beds.   I'll have to see how far it goes.  I know I will have to amend the dirt with humus or manure or peat moss or sand.   So, the bottom line is that raised beds will certainly initially cost more, but they will pay for themselves in food & joy in getting my hands in the dirt.
What Kind of Wood will I Use?  I could use pressure treated wood.   Pressure treated wood is long lasting.  I am concerned about using wood that is chemically treated.  I know that I should not, under any circumstances, use wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) or creosote.  I have read that the EPA considers wood infused with alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) to be safe for food crops but I'm not willing the use it.  I will buy cedar.
Where will I purchase the lumber?   I'll use woods that are naturally rot-resistant wood, such as cedar or redwood.  The result of my phone calls in Lubbock is that rough cut cedar has to be ordered - no one stocks it here.  So order all the lumbers, hardware & landscape fabric from Lowe's and had it all delivered at once.   With the material delivered, Hubby &  I began to  build the Raised Bed Boxes at our leisure.
Pictures of construction        Lay-Out of Raised Beds in Jan's Victory Garden

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