Gardening Vivian | 29 Jan 2011 06:52 am

Raised Vegetable Garden – How to Build Raised Vegetable Beds

Building a raised vegetable garden bed
Once you have decided on where to place your raised vegetable garden, you will need to clear away the weeds. This is not essential but it may prevent persistent weeds from growing up through your new bed. Making the ground flat and level will enable you raised garden bed to sit square on the ground.

Free-form raised vegetable bed
Additionally you will need to decide on the materials for building the walls of the beds. You may decide simply to pile up the soil on top of the ground. You may use the existing top soil from the surrounding paths but it is important to enrich this soil with plenty of compost and well-rotted manure for optimal harvests.

Timber raised vegetable bed
You may choose to build your raised vegetable garden from timber – untreated timber will not last as long but treated timber may contain chemicals which could leach into the soil. Redwood and cedar are thought to be the most rot-resistant wood. An oil stain (with no chemical preservatives to harm your veggies) will help the untreated wood last longer. For the shallowest bed recommended, you can choose boards 6″ or 8″ wide. These boards can be 1″ or 2″ thick. Cut these boards to the desired length and securely screw them together to make a rectangular box. To make a stronger box, you can attach on the inside of each corner, a 6×6 piece of lumber, making them long enough to go into the ground and so anchor the bed in place. The taller and longer you make a wooden raised bed, the more careful you have to be to brace and support the walls to prevent them from bowing under the pressure of the soil.

Brick, concrete block or stone raised bed
Bricks or concrete blocks can make an attractive raised vegetable garden but are heavier to work with. You will need to ensure that they are laid alternating, like in a house, so that the seams don’t line up. If your bricks are only two or three layers high, you will just be able to lay them in position and no mortar will be necessary. Concrete blocks will only need to be one layer high. A loose stone wall should be laid with the largest stones at the bottom and each subsequent layer should slightly lean into the garden bed. The gaps between the stones can be packed with smaller stones and soil.

Recycled materials for a raised vegetable bed
Anything which holds soil and will not bend out of shape or collapse can be used for your raised vegetable beds including a recycled kiddies paddling pool or recycled tires. So if you want to build a cheap raised vegetable garden, keep your eyes open for good materials to recycle into a useful garden bed.

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