How To Make A Raised Garden Easily and Cheaply

One of the big projects in our garden adventure is making an entire garden – a raised bed garden as it were.
You see, we have almost no soil and if you don’t count the two-inches of clay over 8-inches of limestone shale rock as soil, we have none at all. So we need raised beds to garden. We’ve had them in various forms over the past six years on this garden and it’s time to get serious about them.

Raised Garden Materials

I decided to use 2×4’s. Plain old spruce standard stud wood.
I then treated them with vegetable oil.  My thinking here is that using pressure treated wood is “problematic” for organic gardens, old railroad ties leach creosote, and even if this wood only lasts a few extra years, I’ll get a solid ten years out of each cheap bed – and they can be replaced for less than any other alternative.
2.5 inch deck screws – lots.
I use a power drill to pre-drill the holes and then screw the bits together, this amount of hand tool work would take me forever and would leave me with popeye-sized forearms.

How Deep Is It?

I’m using 4 boards stacked one on top of the other so we wind up with fourteen and one-quarter inches tall but figure fourteen if you’re a chainsaw carpenter like I am.

Corner Details

Here’s the raised bed corner detail. It’s standard construction system stuff.
I cut four lengths of fourteen-inch 2×4 for the corners. And all wood is screwed to these corner pieces.Here’s the Final Project

The picture below will give you as much detail as you need – no fancy raised bed garden plans necessary. 🙂
The corners are constructed as above. Four boards high.
The length is standard, uncut eight-foot lengths.
The standard width is thirty-six inches but this is 34-inches (see below).
Important – if you make it wider, you’ll have difficulty reaching into the middle from either side.
Yes, it seems like a waste of wood or you can do what I did and shorten it down to thirty-four inches wide and that gives me two ends and two upright corner bits from each standard length – no wastage and easier to reach into the middle as well.

The green frame is a season-extending cold frame system (used to warm up soil for very early crops or protect from late frosts) And the solar light is to mark the edges at night so visitors don’t kill themselves walking into it. 🙂

Two Construction Details To Consider.

squaring corners
Get your corners square
The garden beds should really be square and I’ve used a carpenter’s square to get mine right, I’d suggest you use a similar tool.

levelling raised bed
Getting a bed to be level is a useful step and I recommend it highly.

Raised Bed Garden Soil

I use standard garden soil in them but I add copious amounts of peat moss and compost to each bed every year. I dig this material in and after a few years, I’ll have a great soil that grows darn near anything I need to grow.
I have experimented with soilless mix in raised beds and it does a reasonable job as well but you do have to add a lot of compost and peat every year (more than regular soil) because of the shrinkage and degradation of the soilless mix.

Bottom Line

If you don’t have much garden soil (like our garden) or if you have a physical reason to avoid bending over, a raised garden bed may be your solution.
This simple raised garden system is inexpensive, long lasting and works nicely.
If you want to see how I made a really, really large raised vegetable garden bed, here’s the article with pictures.

You can read other raised bed articles here on the container gardening page
How To Succeed Growing Plants In Peat Pots

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