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    Build Your Own Raised Bed Kitchen Garden

    Raised bed gardening is a quick, easy and very productive way to grow veggies, herbs, small fruits and flowers in a small space. In just a few hours or a weekend, you can be well on your way to growing healthy food for your family.

    How Many Raised Beds Do I Need?

    In general, a 4’ x 8’ raised bed per person in your family is a good starting point. This should give you fresh food to eat with some leftover to share with the neighbors or preserve for later use. You can always add more later as you learn how much you can grow and how much your family eats.

    Where is the Best Place for Raised Beds?

    Most veggies, small fruits, herbs and flowers need full sun to grow and be productive. An area with at least 6 hours of sun is best. Protection from cold north and west winds is nice if you have that available.

    It is nice to have your raised beds where you see them or walk by often. This will get you in the habit of checking your garden on a regular basis, preventing out of control weeds or pests, and ensuring that you keep your plants watered and harvested when needed.

    Keep raised bed near a water source such as a hose bib or rain barrel. It will save frustration through dry spells.

    How Do I Prepare the Area for Raised Beds?

    If the area is currently lawn or weeds, you will want to get rid of them so they are not coming up through your beds later. There are two ways to achieve this:

    1. Spray the area with an herbicide like Round-up to kill the roots, especially if you have a spreading grass like Bermuda.
    2. Use heavy cardboard or a weed barrier like Landscape fabric to cover the area.

    How Deep Do the Beds Need to Be?

    Raised beds can be anywhere from 6" to 12" or deeper. Root crops like carrots and potatoes benefit from a deeper bed whereas crops like salad greens and peppers don’t need deep beds.

    What Materials Do I Use to Build the Beds?

    There are a wide range of materials depending on your desires and pocketbook. Use wood that hasn’t been chemically treated. Pine boards work and are inexpensive but will have to be replaced from time to time (about 3-5 years). Plastic or composite boards are not as natural looking and are more costly but they will not have to be replaced. Cedar is a good happy medium; it costs a little more but is natural and is not prone to rotting quickly.

    Stacked stone or brick is pretty and will never rot. Concrete blocks are inexpensive and easy to use but are not as attractive as the other choices.

    How Do I Build Raised Beds?

    There are a several ways to actually construct the beds; here are two that are quick and easy using pine boards. You can adjust to your building materials.

    1. For one 4’ x 8’ bed – use three 2" x 10" x 8’ pine boards. Cut one in half. Using corner brackets (3" x ¾") on the inside of the box connect the boards together with screws. For added support use a four foot board in the center of the bed. This is optional but may keep bed from bowing later.
    2. Follow the directions above except in place of corner brackets, use a 2" x 2" x 10" wooden stake and install several screws from the outside boards into the stake on each corner.

    For stacked stone, brick, or concrete blocks: measure the length and depth of the stones and use the amount needed to get a 4’ x 8’ bed.

    What Do I Fill them Up with?

    You have several choices which is nice because you can find and use local materials. Usually you can buy composted horse or cow manure mixed with straw or shavings from a local farmer to fill your beds. For a 4’ x 8’ that is 10 inches deep it will take approximately one cubic yard to fill.

    You can also buy a mix of soil-type products to fill the beds with. Equal parts of compost, peat moss and vermiculite are recommended.

    A mix of potting soil, top soil, peat moss, leaf mold, compost and soil conditioner will all work fine to give you nutrient rich fill that has great drainage.

    Make your own compost to add to your beds each year.

    What Do I Plant in Raised Beds?

    This is the fun part! You can choose your family’s favorite produce or things that are normally expensive in the store. Try strawberries, herbs and cut flowers too.

    Read about Companion Planting

    Supplies

    Pick up these supplies at your local TSC to help you with your raised bed gardening:

    • 3" x ¾" Corner brackets
    • Potting soil
    • Compost
    • Peat Moss
    • Round up
    • Landscape fabric (weed barrier)
    • Shovel
    • Pitch fork
    • ">Garden hand tools
    • Seeds
    • Garden gloves, boots, hats
    • Hand pruner
    • Harvest basket
    • Strawberry plants
    • Tomato cages