First off remember IT’S EASY! My husband and I built our first raised garden bed and if we can do it, anyone can. We are not “crafty” people, we don’t own a pickup truck (although this weekend left me dreaming of them), and we are not on a first name basis with anyone at Home Depot. And yet two days later we are ready to plant and I can’t even express how excited I am! I’ve been playing with the idea of having an organic vegetable garden for months, however every time I started researching I quickly felt overwhelmed. And yet deep down I knew the intention was set and that it was simply a matter of time before I’d be able to feed my kids the healthiest food with the least amount of environmental impact out of my own back yard. So if you’re at all interested in having a your own garden here’s how we did it.
After lots of web searching, getting overwhelmed, stopping and restarting the research yet again, I settled on building a raised garden bed. All it finally took was my husband saying “that’s easy enough” and I was on a mission. Now anyone who knows me also knows that once I’m on a mission it pretty much consumes me and at the moment I am consumed.
Day 1: Trip to Home Depot where I purchased three 2″x12″x12′ pieces of untreated Douglas Fir planks. Steer clear of the pressure treated wood. Although it will last longer chemicals will seep into your soil. Pressure treated wood has a green tint caused by the chemicals used to treat it. Cedar would be best but I couldn’t find it locally and really wanted to get started. Two planks were for the sides. The third they cut into three 2″x4′ pieces, two for the ends and one for a center support. A box of “exterior galvanized common” nails and some coarse sand paper. I pulled into the contractor pick up area, dwarfed by all the heavy duty pickup trucks, to load up my bounty. A few minutes later I was on my way home thinking it would be really great to know someone with a pickup.
The work began: Nail the length (12′ plank) into the width (4′ plank). We used four nails in each corner. And then secure the third small plank in the middle for support.
That was plenty for day 1.
Day 2: Back on the computer to see what type of soil I needed and how much. Here’s a great way to calculate how much soil you’ll need to fill your bed.
Multiply the following: width of your raised bed in inches by length of your bed in inches by depth in inches.
Divide the above number by 1,728 and you have your answer.
For example: My bed is 4′ (or 48 inches) by 12′ (or 144 inches) by 12″ = 82,944. 82,944/1,728 = 48. So I needed 48 cu. ft. of soil.
Now what kind of soil? After a few calls to local garden stores and a chat with an organic farmer, I picked a top soil, compost, manure mix. Not wanting the extra work of mixing it all myself I purchased Coast of Maine Organic Garden Soil. It’s not cheap however it’s a one time expense. As 24 bags were loaded into my vehicle I found myself again dreaming of having a pickup truck.
Once home we edged and dug out the top layer of grass where the bed was to be placed.
Drove my car right onto the lawn, unloaded the soil and filled the bed.
Now we’re ready to plant!
So here’s your list:
- Two planks of UNTREATED wood for the length of the box. From all I’ve ready anywhere from 8-12″ deep is ideal. The length is anyone that what works for your space.
- Two planks of UNTREATED wood for the width of the box. Take care not to make it too deep. 3-5′ is ideal so that whatever you plant is within arms reach.
- Box of galvanized common nails. I purchased 8d x 2.5″
- Coarse sand paper if you’re worried about your children getting any splinters.
- Any combination of garden rake, shovel and/or edger.
- Organic soil that’s a mix of top soil, compost and manure. If you don’t purchase a premix product like I did a 75% topsoil to 25% compost is a good ratio. Throw in some manure or my favorite Chickity Doo DooOrganic Fertilizer.
Next up: Planting our garden!