Raised Bed Vegetable Growing
Planning a raised bed vegetable garden
There are many reasons for using a raised bed to grow your fruit, herbs, vegetables and basically anything your like. For us, the main benefit of constructing a raised bed vegetable garden was that it would give some structure against a slope in the backyard.
Raised beds provide better drainage and a longer growing season as the soil stay warmer for longer. As you add more compost the soil quality improves which in turn leads to better producing crops.
All images are from my own garden unless stated otherwise.
Raised beds make it much easier to keep weeds under control and therefore you will have more time for fishing, reading and all the other things you enjoy doing.
Materials to use for a raised bed
Temporally raised beds for vegetable growing can be made by just tilling the soil. This will save you spending money on construction material but you will have to maintain it during the season as the soil will drain away with rain and watering.
If you want a permanent raised bed you can build it form stone, bricks, concrete, recycled plastic beams or wood. Keeping in mind that we are making an organic garden, you do not want to use any treated wood which could contaminate the soil. Some woods like redwood and cedar are naturally rot resistant and will make great lasting raised beds. We used untreated sawn pine we got at a huge discount from a local supplier as it was not up to spec for its intended use.
Line the bottom of your raised bed with old newspaper or cardboard to stop the weeds coming from the bottom.
Free or cheap raised bed construction materials
Our raised beds were constructed with pre-swan untreated pine which did not pass the quality control standards for its intended purpose. The beds are in their fourth season now and still in excellent condition.
Here are some places where you can look for affordable construction materials.
Big stones or boulders
Look for road construction sites where blasting were done or earth-moving equipment used. There may be big stones, rock or boulders that need removing.
Phone a swimming pool construction company. Most of what they dug out to put in the swimming pool usually needs to be removed.
If you live in a rocky area, go for a drive in the countryside, you may see farm paddocks with piles of big rocks in the middle or on the side of a paddock. Ask if they would let you have some of it.
You can also try riverbeds or creeks for rocks.
Bricks and building blocks
You can find second hand bricks and building blocks at building sites, in skips where remodeling are being done, salvage yards and your local rubbish transfer station.
Most manufacturing sites use wooden pallets to move goods with forklifts. Ask if they have broken pallets for removal but only use untreated ones. Check at salvage yards, the rubbish transfer stations and contact logging companies if there are any close by. Another idea is to use old scaffolding planks.
Contact roofing companies and salvage yards for second hand corrugated iron.
Some of the ingredients used for food production are supplied in 200 litre plastic drums. Check with local businesses if they have any drums or other suitable containers to be taken away.
Filled sandbags, old tires and even an unused kids swimming pool can be used for raised bed construction.
You can also check websites like The Freecycle Network and Craigslist to look for cheap or free material for raised beds.
Did you use free or cheap material for your raised beds? Where did you find it? Do you have any ideas for the frugal raised bed gardener? More ideas welcome!
Layout of your raised beds
Before you start constructing your raised beds it is a good idea to consider a few factors first.
- Look at the shape of the area you want to use for your raised beds and plan accordingly. You want to leave enough space between beds for you to move between the beds. You may want to use a wheelbarrow so you have to keep that in mind too.
- Think about the size of your beds. You want to reach everything in the bed without having to stand on the soil as that would compact the soil. If you make raised beds for an elderly person you may want to make it a bit higher. Keep in mind that higher beds need more soil. The type of construction material you are using can also play a roll on the size of your beds.
More ideas for affordable raised beds is 40 gallon (200 litres) plastic drums sawn in half (just make sure it is chemical free before use), old bathtubs and washing machine drums.
Same Size Raised Beds
Most of our beds are 2m x 1m.
This was a convenient size for the pre-sawn pine and a good size for planting. We also made a chicken coop the same size which we move around from one bed to another as they become available.
This is how our raised bed vegetable garden startedClick thumbnail to view full-size
Plastic drums can make great raised beds - 40 gallon (200 litres) plastic drum sawn in half
Potatoes growing well in plastic drum.
Raised bed allow you to plant on any surface - North facing wall on cement pathClick thumbnail to view full-size
Organiponicos provides 90% of Havana's food needs and produce a million tons of food each year. Just look at those neat raised beds!
Thank you for visiting my page. Any thoughts on raised bed gardening and gardening on a slope are welcome.