Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One Tiny Step at a Time - Raised Beds Edition

So the raised beds are STILL not made, but I finally got the wood for them at least. I've been seriously thinking about raised beds since June, but couldn't decide where to put them, what dimensions, how deep they should be, etc. etc. etc. Then the truck had a bit of a mouse problem in July and spent 2 months at the repair shop (that's why I got the cats at the beginning of August). I just got the truck back at the end of September.

I made half of the decisions that need to be made on these beds. I decided the dimensions (4 x 12), and how deep (16 inches of wood, probably 12-14 inches of soil). I bought enough wood to make 2 beds using 2 x 8, treated lumber. I still have no idea what to do for the corners. I've been hoping that some answer would magically come up and tap me on the shoulder - but it hasn't happened yet. As I try to put these things together in the next few weeks, I'll have to decide on something, and you know what - whatever it is will probably be OK. The lumber is *really* heavy, so I suspect the bed design will be based somewhat on my ability to lift each piece.

As I write this, the truck is sitting in the yard full of wood because when I got home from the store last night, it was dark. For a workday, yesterday was really productive on homestead stuff. I went to the grocery store at lunchtime, then to the lumber store on the way home. It's not often that I can get more than one thing outside of work done on a workday because work gets all my mental and physical energy. There's usually nothing left over for me after I've given 11 hours of my day to earn a paycheck. That's what happened last night. I got the wood at least. Unloading it will wait for another day.


  1. it may be a bad time to offer this, and you may already know, but most places will rough saw your boards..not a bad idea, especially if they are real heavy like yours. They sawed my 4' pieces from an 8' and then I just had the other 2 8' pieces whole. Sometimes they do this just to fit them in your vehicle. Helps with sales!! But I didn't do anything to my corners. I put it together so that it was a true rectangle. Each board has one end butted up against another board and one end that is exposed to the elements, with the joining one screwed into the side of it there. I used nice long deck screws...some straight in and some at angles...You can pre-drill holes to keep them going straight, if you want. I probably would with a 2"board. flop them flat on the ground, drill some holes down the row to guide your screws and then set them up on the edges to join them. A few rocks,( which you have PLENTY of!!) or a cement block or two will make doing this on your own possible. I have kids that can usually be beckoned to 'just hold that there' although sometimes the rocks are easier to use!
    One raised bed was just a homemade sandbox that no one was interested in. I had 2"x2" boards vertically cut to the depth and then the sides of the bed are screwed into these ..
    GOOD LUCK! I'd like another bed, or even to raise a couple of the flat-ground ones that I used this year. Throw in some better dirt.

  2. Yay for raised beds! I'd love to have them, but I can't afford the wood. I'm hoping that for next year I can at least get something to edge my garden plots with. This year was an unending battle with the grass that kept creeping in from the sides. With no physical border I could never tell where the edge of the garden plot actually was, so they kept getting smaller and smaller!

    I envy you your freedom to make this choice about where you want to be and what you want to be doing. I'll never get there, so I have to live my dreams vicariously through the blogs of those who can! Keep it up! :)

  3. I am a little worried about the treated lumber.
    Even though wood is not treated with arsenic anymore,I feel treated wood is still not the best choice for areas in which you want to raise food (although I am not exactly sure how wood is treated nowadays).
    My folks use cedar pickets. Each raised bed uses five pickets. They saw the very tips off to make them square and attach the boards using a metal bracket designed to hold wood together to form corners (I have no idea what those things are named, but I could find them in a hardware store). The whole thing costs around $40.The pickets are light, too, which is good for me since I am physically not that strong.

  4. treated lumber is best not to be used from what I have read, contains chemicals, pesticides, etc which is not good for growing plants. I did a raised bed garden this year it was great. No weeds. We used Mel Bartholomew's book The New Square Foot Garden as our blueprint and the results were pretty good. We made some mistakes but that is how we learn and we know what not to do next year. Happy homesteading!

  5. I did a little bit of reading on treated vs untreated lumber and apparently the chemicals don't migrate far from the wood, as in less than an inch. Plus - I'm just feeding me, and I'm full of chemicals already! If I was feeding kids though, I might make a different decision.

    Anon - I'll have to check out that book. It sounds interesting. I'm all for making mistakes and learning!

    Alison - the wood WAS expensive. Corners I've considered buying are spendy too. If you have good dirt, maybe it isn't necessary to use wood to raise it up farther. (?)

    Karen Sue - I might just use your suggestion about the corners!

  6. Hi J, I've considered these before, but my bed is just nailed together at the corners (and just 10").,11892,default,cp.html

    How's the kitty?