Raised Bed Gardening is Cheap and Productive

June 7, 2011

Make your own raised beds in less than an hour and save big bucks.

Credit: Doreen G. Howard
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Every time I open a plant catalog or see a television commercial for sale-priced $99 raised bed gardening kits, I cringe! You don't need to spend that kind of money to build your own four-by-four-foot bed or even a 20-foot-long one.

My husband builds mine. He buys two 1 x 8-inch cedar boards, which don't rot with age. They come in 8-foot lengths, which is perfect for 4 x 4-foot beds. Cut each plank in half, so that it is 4-feet long. Or, you can have a home improvement/lumber store make the cuts. Many places will do it for free.

Husband also buys a 3-foot length of a 1 x 1-inch pine stake; he cuts it into four pieces and uses them to nail the cedar boards to at corners for bracing. That's all!

how to build raised garden beds

Grouping together several raised beds makes a substantial vegetable garden that is easy to maintain, with no weeding and crops that mature fast

I place the boxes on cleared ground. We cut and roll up our turf, but many gardeners do not think it is necessary. The added 6 inches of soil will bury most of the grass and weeds beneath. After I situate the boxes (four or five grouped together makes a good sized garden), I put down three layers of newspaper to suppress errant weed or grass seeds that might sprout. Paper degrades fully within weeks and feeds the soil.

Another fast, cheap method of building raised beds is to use concrete construction blocks. They have a big bonus. Their holes can be filled with soil mix and planted with herbs or strawberries.

The extra gathered heat from concrete is perfect for Mediterranean-type herbs such as rosemary and lavender. Strawberry plants grow huge and fruit fast in the holes. Each block is 16 inches long by 8 inches high; I purchase mine at big box stores as find the price most reasonable. Beds of 13 feet or longer by 4 feet wide are cheaper to build using blocks than with cedar boards.

Cement construction blocks are a cheap method of building raised beds.

You will be planting seeds and transplants close, because the beds are smaller and the soil is richer. But, plants grown close together in raised beds mature faster, because they compete for nutrients and sunlight. Each plant senses the distance of others and adjusts its metabolism to compete. Several university studies have proven this competition syndrome by identifying how plants perceive others nearby using the green light spectrum.

This 4 x 4-foot bed is crowded with productive peppers, cucumbers, a tomato plant and insect-repelling flowers that are edible.

Raised Bed Soil Mix
The more organic matter there is in soil, the better. Soil microbes are fed, oxygen and water
readily reach roots and plants thrive. Here’s the recipe I’ve developed in the last decade that
works best for my garden.

For one 4 x 4-foot raised bed. (Multiply amounts to fill larger beds.)
2 bags (2-cubic-feet each) top soil
1 pail (3-cubic-feet) peat moss
1 bag (2 to 3-cubic feet) compost or composted cow manure
2-inch layer of shredded leaves or grass clipping.

If you use grass, make sure the clippings are not from a lawn that has been sprayed with herbicides or been fertilized with a food that contains granular herbicides to kill weeds. Both persist and will kill plants beds up to three years after the initial application.

Mix all materials with a hoe or cultivator and water well. Be sure to mulch well with organic Matter such as more leaves or clippings or straw.

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Doreen Howard has written for The Old Farmer's Almanac All-Seasons Garden Guide for 15 years and is the former garden editor at Woman’s Day as well as a photographer. She has grown more than 300 varieties of heirloom edibles and flowers in the last two decades.

In stores now!

Look for Doreen's newest book, Heirloom Flavor: Yesterday's Best-Tasting Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs for Today's Cook. Find in stores everywhere including Walmart and on the Web including amazon.com.

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Comments

I'm so excited to try this.

By Susy 1960 on April 10

I'm so excited to try this. We just moved and are renting. I've got bare spot in the yard where previous renters had built a patio platform that was very unstable. My landlord took it down and just covered the space with straw. Perfect solution for such an ugly space? We do however have moles and I was wondering if the layers of newspaper would be enough or should I be more aggressive with the chicken wire?

As long as it's a sunny spot,

By Almanac Staff on April 11

As long as it's a sunny spot, raised garden beds sound like a really great solution. In terms of moles and other pests: when you build your beds, line them with hardware cloth.

Hi! So glad I found this..

By ShannonA on March 30

Hi!

So glad I found this.. My yard in northern nj is sizeable but doesn't get great sun. I have an area that is uneven behind some rocks where my lawn ends.... And it's sloped down eventually turning to thick brush and woods. I thought I should utilize this sunny sera since it's my property. So, it slopes down and has lots of pachysandra. My dad and I were thinking that landscape cloth could be laid on bottom. Do you recommend newspaper over that? Also, the slope is going to cause us to build up the back quite a bit. Any tips for a garden bed on uneven ground? I could use a lot of help. Also, what should one use if they don't have clippings to mix with the soil?

When do you build yours (since you sound like you're from NJ)? When do you plant? Any tips for deer, squirrels, etc? Do you use chicken wire?

Thanks!!!
Shannon

Hi Shannon, Doreen is on a

By Almanac Staff on April 2

Hi Shannon,
Doreen is on a break, but we'll try to help you out.

Landscape fabric will help to suppress unwanted plants—if you buy good quality fabric you shouldn't need to supplement it with newspaper or any other material. Alternatively, thick overlapping layers of newspaper or cardboard can be used at the bottom of your beds. You can build raised beds at any time of year, and the easiest way to create garden beds on very sloping ground is to create terraced beds that fit into the hillside.

If you don't already have home-made compost you can buy bags of potting soil to help enrich your garden soil. Yearly application of mulch in the form of compost, manure, leaves etc will also help develop great soil structure and keep fertility high.

Our Garden Planner can recommend ideal times for sowing and planting based on your location - please visit http://gardenplanner.almanac.com/ for more information and to take out a 30 day free trial. The Garden Planner also has a custom filter which can be used to show only plants that can be grown in partial shade (so making use of the less sunny parts of your garden), or only plants that are easy to grow, can be sown during a particular month in your area etc.

Every pest is different but for deer and rabbits the best way to deal with them is to simply keep them out—which can mean a very high fence in the case of deer! Squirrels can sometimes be foiled by placing chicken wire over containers after planting, but it's not normally feasible on garden beds unless they're very small.

I hope that helps!

Starting my first ever

By Fernanda Galvez

Starting my first ever garden, excited about the SFG method. Need some advice, I am planting in the back of my yard which is uneven clay covered in pine straw. Wht do you recommend? I was thinking of buying several bags of cheap dirt to level the land where the SFG box will go and then build on top of that according to your suggestions. Would love confirmation on whether or not that is a good plan!

That sounds like a good

By Almanac Staff on April 2

That sounds like a good idea—raised beds are great where the underlying soil is unworkable, and levelling off the ground will prevent them from sitting in a hollow which might result in waterlogging. Good luck!

A question about lining the

By Frank Boshey

A question about lining the garden beds, I don't have a bunch of newspaper lying around but I do however have boxes and boxes of crumpled up bounty paper towels I thought might be a good substitute to line the bed of my raised veggie garden (I constructed it last night, this is the first test bed that's 11x5.5 ft ).

I was also thinking of supplementing some of the bed dirt with some of the yard dirt (since it's such a big bed to cut costs a little).

This is my first time really getting into this kinda stuff, so any ideas and opinions are appreciated and welcome.

Thick layers of newspaper

By Almanac Staff

Thick layers of newspaper laid with a wide overlap creates a flat barrier that is almost impossible for grass and weeds to grow up through -- I doubt scrunched up paper towels would suffice I'm afraid, as the weeds will be able to work their way up through them.
You can mix in your yard dirt, but make sure to sieve it to remove any large stones or weeds first. You will probably find that some weed seeds are lying dormant in it though, so be aware that there might be some weeding to be done!

Thanks, I actually put down a

By Frank Boshey

Thanks, I actually put down a layer of cardboard on the bottom and covered that with the paper towels that were left over from the move. The potting soil wasn't to bad (all things considered, since the bed was pretty sizable).

And I broke down and grabbed 6 more bags of potting soil (carrying 12 of those bad boys up a few flights of stairs to the back yard was fun :P). After evaluating the yard I decided it'd be alot easier and cheaper then trying to sieve all the crap out of it, the potential weed pulling is a non issue.

Thanks for the input :D

A great cheap underlayment is

By rick hoffkins

A great cheap underlayment is find a carpet installer or your local recycler plant for disgarded carpet nothing grows thru or digs thru on top of carpet which is turned bottom side up i use pea gravel and cover the entire area beond fence area this stops weeds from growing thru fence in connecticut we have chipmonk wars so you can also buy new lumber which is warped notty splitting on ends and adjust your beds to size of good lumber you get cheap

I am completely new to

By Cindee

I am completely new to growing anything! I plan on starting out with these raised beds for next spring 2014. When would be the time to start this project?

Hi Cindee, You can build the

By Almanac Staff

Hi Cindee,
You can build the frames for the beds now and put down cardboard or newspapers to kill the grass and weeds. In the spring fill the beds with soil mix and start planting.

I live in oklahoma and i

By marylin stevenson

I live in oklahoma and i lo
ve the thought of cinder blocks. i have always wanted a garden. most places wont allow unless they are attractive and well kept. i just love the cinder block idea. and plus when i move they can go with me. cant wait to plant some tomatoes

For those concerned about the

By AshleyShell

For those concerned about the price of lumber, you should try watching the "free" section of Craigslist; I often see scrap lumber and other leftover building/landscaping materials listed on there for free.

You have to be careful with

By Sam Butler

You have to be careful with free lumber from Craigslist. Old pressure treated wood contained arsenic. Would not want that next to my veggies!

Hi Doreen, I read your reply

By Shriba

Hi Doreen, I read your reply to the post about using cement block or wood for planters in Arizona and you recommended wood because of the night heat. I'm in San Diego and the nights are mostly cool, but it is dry here. We do have warm nights for a month or so. Would you suggest block or wood? Or maybe like the post above, a combination of the two. And, what about redwood?

I went to the local home

By Kayla M

I went to the local home depot, and couldnt find any of the cedar boards. I opted for the untreated douglas fir. The boards were around $5.50 each, for 1x6x8. I actually doubled the height for the bed and made them 4x4x1. The total cost for the project was around $27.00 with the vertical braces. I just finished the first one yesterday and cant wait to finish the second one today. Thank you for the great idea! I was debating to put some chicken wire on the bottom to keep out the gophers. Has anyone else had any problems with gophers in the raised beds?

To keep gophers from going

By okijax

To keep gophers from going under the garden beds, I bought some hardware cloth at Home Depot.

Don't know where you're

By Frank C

Don't know where you're sourcing your cedar boards but where I live, New Jersey, they're $15 and up. In fact I just paid $300 for lumber to build 2 beds 4 feet x 8 feet. And I know I won't get that many vegetables lol.

I simply build my raised beds

By StellaInWisconsin

I simply build my raised beds with cheap (untreated, of course) pine boards. They last long enough--several years, at least. Replacing them eventually with more cheap pine is no big deal.

Since I wrote this blog

By Doreen G. Howard

Since I wrote this blog nearly two years ago, lumber prices have escalated due to several factors. In your area, the Superstorm Sandy drove up prices immediately due to repairs and new construction. Why don't you build your beds with concrete construction blocks. They have gone up in price, too, but they are still reasonable in price--much cheaper than $2000-$300 raised bed kits being sold.

Do I have to kill the grass

By Trying

Do I have to kill the grass if I place it on the ground? My first idea was to build a raised bed 3 feet from the ground 6ft x 6ft but I am wondering what I should put on the bottom to hold the soil. Would chicken wire work?

You can simply put down

By Almanac Staff

You can simply put down cardboard or layers of newspaper and then the mix of soil on top of that.

The cheapest pine in southern

By Linda V

The cheapest pine in southern CA was $8.59 for an 8 ft board 8" wide. Cedar was out of site.

That should have read

By Linda V

That should have read 1"x8"x8'

I am wanting to have a raised

By T Walker

I am wanting to have a raised garden bed this year. Question I have is do I just lay bed on the ground or do I put it on something? I really want to try these this year.

You might want to put down

By Almanac Staff

You might want to put down cardboard or newspaper in the area where you'll put your boxes or boards. This will keep the weed and grass seeds buried. Then fill your boxes or beds with a 4 to 12 inches of compost, composted manure, and soil. Good luck!

I used railroad ties from the

By thepeachlady

I used railroad ties from the garden center that were left behind when we bought our home. I covered the ties and the ground with plastic cuz I was worried what was there before me. Planted strawberries and they have progressed nicely over the last 4 years. Except for Mr. Bunny and his family. So I'm going to replace this bed with the concrete blocks. Q: Since 6 layers of newspaper disintegrates at the end of the growing season, does that mean I have to dig it all up next year and put down another 6 layers of paper?

No, you don't have to dig up

By Doreen G. Howard

No, you don't have to dig up dirt and replace newspaper. By the end of the first season, weeds are killed. The second season and thereafter, layer more compost and leaf mulch on beds in spring before planting. I dump my shredded leaves in the autumn on the raised beds and let them rot all winter. Then I just add a 2-3 inch layer of compost before planting.

I have been wanting to make a

By Naomi darby

I have been wanting to make a raised garden can old railroad ties work or will the chemicals in them go to the plants?
I live in centeral florida and our yard is reclaimed phosphate land our "yard" is so hard sometimes takes a stick of dynamite to plant a tree or anyting.
got any tips?

I'd avoid railroad ties, even

By Doreen G. Howard

I'd avoid railroad ties, even old ones. They leach toxic chemicals for decades. Concrete blocks are an inexpensive substitute.

Can I cut down small trees to

By wyvonnia

Can I cut down small trees to make a raised bed garden. Also will white pine needles kill my plants as there is a huge w- pine near my intended spot.

White pine needles make great

By Doreen G. Howard

White pine needles make great mulch; they don't harm plants. I wouldn't put a bed over a freshly-cut-down tree. Remaining tree roots sprout new growth many times. Wait a couple of seasons before putting a garden there.

I am trying to start a

By tryingtogarden

I am trying to start a garden, my mom had always gardened when I was younger. I am now a college student. I live in NC and the soil near my house is nonexistent, it is mostly clay. I was wondering if I do a raised garden bed and just put newspaper on the bottom and then buy the soil from the store will that work? I will probably go off of the ingredients listed here to put in the bed but I was not sure if it was okay to just put the raised bed on top of leaves if i put newspaper down first?

Yes, do put newspapers down

By Doreen G. Howard

Yes, do put newspapers down first. If there is turf, mow it as low as possible or scalp the soil with a hoe first. Four layers of paper is best; then layer the organic materials. Garden soil, sold in 3 cubic-foot bags is heavy and really needs peat moss or light compost added to losen up the texture. Good luck!

I was wondering what material

By meagnene2012

I was wondering what material you are using in this picture for the walking area of the garden? Did you also put it under the raised beds?

Dirt with straw over it.

By Doreen G. Howard

Dirt with straw over it. Weeds are a constant problem in the paths for me. So I scalp them all at season's beginning and then toss straw, shredded leaves or any other slow-to-decay mulch over the paths.

I wish I could find cedar

By Terri B

I wish I could find cedar this cheap. I 1x6x8 is almost 16 dollars so multiply that by 2 and you are already up to 32 bucks not including screws and a piece of wood for the stake. Still love the ideas and it is still cheaper than buying them already made.

Would the cinder block bed

By BeckyB

Would the cinder block bed work in the desert? We live in SW CA where the ground is hard sand.

Cement blocks will hold heat

By Doreen G. Howard

Cement blocks will hold heat at night and add to the bed's heat during torrid days. You'd be better off with cedar boards, as they won't hold the heat.

I wanted a raised vegetable

By Gerrilf1

I wanted a raised vegetable bed at our leased camping lot. The ground there is full of rocks. I used vinyl clad garden fencing cut to the height of 19". This was bent into the shape of a "U" by using a 2x4 as a metal break (that I stood on while bending). This left aprox 3.5" bottom of the "U" and the sides of 7.75". I used 18" rebar in the corners and every 3' inside to make it stay more sturdy. Then I got buckets of rocks from my neighbor (who has a huge pile he didn't want) and filled in the whole "U" with rocks. I placed black plastic on the inside of the bed on the walls to keep the dirt inside. The fencing was wired from the outside of the "U" to the inside of "U" on top and all were attached to the rebar also. It retained the soil very well and was very unique looking. Used material I already had or given to me for free, but, don't believe it would cost so much if you had to buy it and it.

I've read that concrete

By marceia

I've read that concrete blocks contain chemicals that can leach into the soil and it's not good to use them for food gardens (vs flower). Have you heard of this or know anything about it? I'd LOVE to use blocks if it's safe!

I've never seen any evidence

By Doreen G. Howard

I've never seen any evidence that concrete blocks contain harmful chemicals. But...if block are scavenged, you don't know what has been sprayed on them or what they have absorbed. Stick with new blocks.

Concrete is made up of lots

By Const.Mgr

Concrete is made up of lots of chemicals, retarders and C-ash and F-ash and cement and ....I used to make it. Ran a concrete plant. Will it harm your plants or you? I dunno...but if you're worried about the chemicals in there, use wood. :)

Prices do vary by region.

By Doreen G. Howard

Prices do vary by region. You could salvage bricks and blocks from demolition sites for free. I've done that when younger and my budget was very tight. Large rocks work, too, if you can find a siet where you can dig them up for free.

We have been in our home for

By FrustratedGardener

We have been in our home for a year now and had a fairly successful garden for a brand new garden. I would really like to make it a series of raised gardens but the cost of cedar in Ontario is aprox $20 per plank and the cement block is $3.62 per block. Both options work out to be about $100 per bed sized 4x12. Sigh any other suggestions?

Hey 49hillbilly, did the

By GardnerWannabee

Hey 49hillbilly, did the gophers stay out of the raised garden? I've thought I'd have to put down some hardware cloth to keep them out, because I'm over run with them.

I'm planting garlic and

By Isabel Santamaria

I'm planting garlic and onions. Could I add Vermiculite to the mixture? How much?

Yes, you can add vermiculite

By Doreen G. Howard

Yes, you can add vermiculite or perlite or shredded pine bark. All of them will create loose soil that bulbing veggies love. Don't use shredded cedar bark, as it has a growth inhibitor in it. That's why it makes good mulch for flower beds to keep weeds away.

I'm knew to raised beds and

By Wishing I had a green thumb

I'm knew to raised beds and gardening in general. The reason I want to use raised beds to keep it as organic as possible. Just bought out house and don't know the history of the ground where I am placing the garden but using chemical lawn service is big in the neighborhood. Is there a bottom on the raised bed that would separate it from the ground? If not, do typical garden plants (lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini etc) have shallow enough roots that they won't grow in to the ground below the bed? Thanks! I am looking forward to my new garden planning this fall and winter!

Chemical pollution is a good

By Doreen G. Howard

Chemical pollution is a good reason to garden in raised beds. Try placing 6 layers of newspaper on the ground before filling beds. The paper degrades, but it becomes part of the organic stew of soil in the bed you created. There, soil microbes thrive to feed and protect your plants. Eventually, these microbes colonize in the soil below the beds. And, yes, most of the veggies you mention have fairly shallow root systems; plus they stay where nutrients and water are available.

I really like the cement

By vigardening

I really like the cement brick idea. I already have a bed made of wood that I put my green house over at the begining of growing season or to extend the season. but I am expanding and the cost of a cement one is less. it would be approx 30.00 and it does not rot. Thanks for the info.
And a bonus the hole in the bricks I could use to grow flowers and herbs. Thanks Hillbilly.

I plan on making some beds

By Newgardner

I plan on making some beds this year and have been doing a little research. I came across a blog by Ana-White who used cedar fence boards to make her boxes by just squaring off the top inch of the board. I thought it was very clever, and much cheaper!

I have several cedar boards

By Tray

I have several cedar boards in my garage already. Can't touvh them without getting splinters, will they be ok to use?

alternative raised bed gardening

By bluefawn

I read an article on gardening without having to plow up the soil, and will try it next year. Buy one or more bales of hay (not straw or pine needles) and soak with water for 4 or 5 days. Then use a trowel to make holes in the bales for your plants. The bales will provide nutrients and keep the plants virtually weed-free. Great for apartment or condo dwellers with limited space.

I tried this method last

By Kaja

I tried this method last year.. The bales ended up sprouting a lot of little grasses and were a HEAVEN home for slugs.. Those little creeps demolished my veggies! I tried the beer method with some success but there were so many of them I was using a ton of beer! Eventually just gave up to the slugs. :-(

That would work well for

By C Reitz

That would work well for those of us who aren't allergic to hay (like I am).

I've used haybales for the

By Probson

I've used haybales for the past two years to grow my tomatoes. They work great! No weeding and no blight. If you google or search haybale gardening there is a web site that will tell you all about. MN

Raised Beds

By CherOhkee54

I wish I had the gumption to give this a try. I've tried and tried over the past 15 years to have a garden with almost no success. I plant and plant and nothing comes up. I've turned the soil, mulched, fertilized, begged and pleaded and nothing comes up. Peppers, lavender, lima beans, onions, carrots, peas, melons, green beans....nothing grows. Oh, one or two might pop-up, but quickly die. The only thing that has ever grown were zucchinis. This year two green bean plants sprung up from last year's attempt and they're doing fine. I didn't plant anything this year. Just pulled the weeds, covered the plot with mulch & bark and let the mint and nasturtiums take over. At least the mint smells good and the nasturtiums are pretty!

Hello sorry to tell you

By Georgie Bouthillier

Hello sorry to tell you artificial and chemical fertilizer such as mircle grow is the worst thing you can use it causes salt build up kills natural bacteria and fungus that are essential in the soil to break it down to make the neccessary elements available to the plants aswell as they continue to break down organic material in your soil that turns it to healthy soil for the plant aswell as the bacteria make all other nutrients in the soil available to the plant another words those chemical fertilizers and chemical type liquid emultions kill of this healthy bacteria that is essential to break down the components that are in the soil so the plants will prosper!AND BY THE WAY MOST PEOPLE DON'T RELIZE LOTS AND MOST OF THE TIME OUR SOIL HAS ENOUGH OF THESE NUTRIENTS AND FERTILIZER IN IT ALREADY SO OVER FERTILIZING IS DANGEROUS IT NOT ONLY CAUSES SALT BUILD UP BUT BURNS ROOTS AND KILLS PLANTS THE KEY HERE IS TO BUILD UP THE NATURAL BACTERIA IN YOUR SOIL BY PUTTING HORSE AND COW MANURE IN IT ASWELL AS WATERING IT WITH 3 TABLESPOONS OF MOLLASSES TO ONE GALLON OF WATER TO WET THE WHOLE THING WITH IT TO GIVE THE NATURAL HEALTH BACTERIA A FOOD TO EAT SO THEY MULTIPLY SO THEY WILL BREAK DOWN ORGANIC MATTER FOR YOU AND MAKE THE NPK THAT IS ALREADY IN YOUR SOIL AVAILABL TO THE PLANTS AND BY THE WAY AND GRANITE DUST OR GRANULES FROM A ROCK QUARRY ON TOP OF MANURE IT NOT ONLY GIVE YOU LONG TERM POTASH THAT IS SAFE BUT ADDS TRACE MINERALS ALSO GET SOME BASALT DUST OR GRANULES FROM A ROCK QUARRY ASWELL IT IS LOADED WITH TRACE ELEMENTS THAT YOU NEED FOR YOUR PLANT ADD A VARIETY OF ORGANIC MATTER SHREDDED LEAVES MANURE A LITTLE LIME SOME SHEEP PELLETS FEED MADE WITH SOYMEAL,AFALFA,CORNMEAL,MOLLASSES BYPRODUCTS,ECT. :ONLY $16 FIR 50 LBS. AND I WILL GAUREENTEE YOU YOU WILL HAVE GREAT SUCCES AVERAGE THE FIRST YEAR GREAT AFTER THAT BE SURE TO THOUROUGHLY MIX ALL OF IT TOGETHER IN THE TOP 5 TO 6 INCHES OF GARDEN SOIL AT THE END OF THE SEASON MULCH IT OVER WITH ABOUT 4 TO 6 INCHES OF SHREDDED LEAVES LET IT SIT ALL WINTER PULL SHREDDED LEAVES TO ONE SIDE WHEN SPRING COMES PLANT YOUR PLANTS AND BECOME PLEASANTLY SURPRISED iF YOU NEED ANY FURTHER HELP JUST EMAIL ME AT GFJBTHLLR@YAHOO.COM

I really wanted to read this.

By Amber Martin

I really wanted to read this. It seemed to contain lots of useful information, but I started over three times and couldn't make sense of it. Did anyone else understand? Care to summerize?

Your lack of punctuation and

By DanInPA

Your lack of punctuation and all caps rambling doesn't give me confidence in your opinion, Georgie. Thanks for trying to help, I think.

do a soil test

By mlphoebe

Have you taken a soil sample to your Co-operative Extension Office yet? They'll test your soil for a small fee. And as far as fertilizing goes if your using "Miracle Grow" or even one of the other type that you dilute with water it's possible to over fertilize if your using it more often than the 7 to 14 days recommended. A few years ago I ruined my soil for bell peppers by watering every other day with it. 3 years later all I succeed in doing is growing stunted pepper plants.

Raised Beds

By pablomartin

I've been using cement blocks for several years now. The marigolds and herbs are planted in the holes. Thanks for the strawberry idea. How do you contain the runners?
PaBLo

Re: Raised Beds

By Doreen G. Howard

I let the runners ramble and root somewhere.  Then, I cut the runner off, dig up the rooted plant and put it elsewhere.  When I have too many, I pinch off runners and discard or share with friends.

Additional tip -

By HowardDalton

You can use the same three layer method of newspaper along the bottom and seams of both kinds of raised beds in the article to prevent soil wash-out. The newspaper is porous enough to drain adequately and will degrade by the end of the season to be composted into the soil.

Raised Garden/Flower/Shrub Beds - Compost Bin

By James K Smith

Thank you for your post. These provide flexability in size/ shape/ and being up, they make maintenance and harvesting easier.
I'm with you DOREEN I don't like the cost or limited sizes/shapes of the pre-fab ones.
I've used these raised beds for years with great success in Calif. & Kansas & now in Arizona … YES the desert where 'soil' is not easy to find. (I'm jealous of your soil in the picture). I've always used 'Cinder Blocks' without cementing them together (up to - two high). I like the cinder block as it also acts to wick moisture and prevent over watering where drainage may pose a problem [KS - clay]. For looks this time, I used the split faced cinder block & topped with some red pavers, again not cemented. This was for a planter that runs the length of our Block wall fence 50+ ft..
I had to make some soil by mixing gypsum/ Peat moss/ sulpher/ and some planter mix [on sale close out stuff] and mixed with the 'native SAND.' [the mix is always dependant on the Native ground & Chemicals used in the Water Supply] Through composting (*see below) & incorporating back to the planters they seem to get better & more productive each year. They serve as all year Shrub planters with veggies in between during the seasons.
* Also made a 'compost' bin this way by leaving one half of a 4ft side open & four blocks high - blocks filled with sand to keep in place & staggered joints - a plywood top and a piece of peg board with (painted w/water seal) for the side opening to allow air circulation/mixing the pile & getting the compost out. Works great.
Happy Gardening to all & hope I've maybe given a helpful idea to someone.

Raised Bed gardens

By 49hillbilly

Moved to SE Alabama over a year ago. Was busy with the house the first year, this year I am starting to construct my raised beds. I noticed that there were a lot of Gopher tortoises and Rabbits on my property, so decided to go with the raised beds. I constructed mine with cement blocks on the bottom row and 2"x 12" cedar on top of them, using 2"x2" 4' in each corner. This way I can cover is we have a frost in the cooler growing season or use PVC lattice to cover if it get too hot and when the plants are young. My neighbor says I need to put fake wheels on them and they will look like covered wagons.

I find that these beds hold water much better than ground plantings. Once the plants mature the whole bed is shaded and I only have to water every other day, even in 3 digit temps. I wish I could attach a picture of the beds, 2 are completed and planted and 2 are on the way. The other advantage is I don't have to bend over, with my bad hips and knees.

49hillbilly, I would love to

By aes

49hillbilly, I would love to understand how you make the PVC lattice to cover this raised bed. I seem to have the latest and the earliest frost in my neighborhood. I need an easy way to protect for a little longer growing season. Any more detailed description would be appreciated!

49hillbilly, did the gophers

By GardnerWannabee

49hillbilly, did the gophers stay out of the raised garden? I've thought I'd have to put down some hardware cloth to keep them out, because I'm over run with them.

Raised Garden Beds.

By James K Smith

HILLBILLY;
I enjoyed your post. I'm glad to hear that someone else uses PVC for a cover/shelter. I've been using it for many years myself. Never glued but pushed together {some I had to drill and add a fininsh nail to keep together) makes it easy to store when not necessary. It also makes it easy to either cover with burlap for sun protection/ retaining the moisture/ or even helping with the frost. an old sheet works well for the frost.
Thanks - I'm going to move my wagon wheels to the outside of the planter. Have fun in your 'prarie scooner.'

Raised beds

By bluemooner

My beds are made with untreated boards 2"x 10"x 16' & 3' wide. I live in Western NC & ground is rocky so I started them out with leaf loam from woods, bags of top soil & bags of compost. I also added some leftover fishing worms..lol I mulch with bales of wheat straw that I shred up with push mower & use rabbit manure & fish emulsion for feeding & compost when available. So far...looking good :~)

Rabbit manure is great! I

By cherh

Rabbit manure is great! I used to have rabbits and had huge plants and veggies.

raised beds

By Marie Strothotte

I love both these ideas Doreen! Sometimes simplest is best :)

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