I was inspired to do some raised beds after watching this youtube video. If I wasn’t a renter, I’d do something a little more permanent, but this will serve it’s purpose for now.
I used 2x8x10 foot pine lumber to make a 4x4 foot bed and a 4x8 foot bed. I needed the boards cut in half to make 4 foot sections, but I wasn’t going to pay the store a dollar for each cut. The next best thing was to hope they’d fit in the back seat of my car. My backseat windows roll down only half-way. So I used some clothes to cushion the lumber that was now diagonal in my backseat and resting on my window. About three feet of board was sticking out of my window, but the cops I passed didn’t seem to mind. I also bought 3 1/2” deck screws and a small drill bit to pre-drill some holes.
I measured and cut the boards with a regular hand saw, and then screwed the boards together with the drill. I will say this design is rather rickety, so be careful when moving them to your garden bed. Now if I owned this property, the wood would be cedar and the bed design would be a little more elaborate, but in the end they all work the same way.
Next spring I hope to add another 4x4 foot bed to the left of the 4x8 bed, where that flower bed is now. Then I’ll have three planting areas for veggies, edible flowers and herbs.
Wood chip mulch was on sale at $1.99 a bag. Unfortunately, I had to buy most of my dirt. I found bags of manure/compost at Wal-Mart for $1.34 each, and then found 40-pound bags of topsoil at the hardware store for .99 each. I’d say those are pretty good deals, but nothing is better than free. In the spring, St. Paul has composting sites where you can get compost and dirt for free, but it’s all gone this time of year. So before you buy dirt, check around to see if there’s any free dirt where you live. Or make your own by visiting some local barns. Manure helped my family get 8-foot tomato plants one year.
A few things to know:
Don’t use treated lumber for gardens. They can leach toxins into your soil and into what you’re eating.
You never truly know what’s in city soil. So if you’re unsure about your area, raised beds are a good bet to avoid whatever lies underneath. If you want to be really safe, get your soil tested.
If you can afford it, use cedar to make your raised beds. They’ll last longer and look great for far longer than pine.