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In the garden: How to build a raised bed

Mar 12th, 2011 | Category: Skills

by Adam Bates

Finally, spring has sprung. Or at least it’s trying to.  With the growing season upon us, it’s time once again to plan out and plant our gardens. But if last year’s crop of fruits and veggies was less than spectacular, or if you are simply looking to improve upon your success, raised bed gardening is the way to go.

Raised beds allow anyone with the interest and the gusto for gardening to plant and harvest regardless of their surroundings. By building a raised bed, you are no longer at the mercy of whatever native soil you may have on your property, but are able to bring in whatever quality soil you like. These beds also help extend the planting season, reduce erosion, suppress weed growth and conserve water.

With a few simple steps, building a raised bed will allow even the most novice gardener to enjoy the fruits of their labor all summer long. PHOTO BY ADAM BATES

A raised bed can be any shape or size, but is typically an box enclosed by wood or concrete filled with compost and the soil of your choosing built on top of existing top soil, grass, rooftop, etc… With a few simple steps, building a raised bed will allow even the most novice gardener to enjoy the fruits of their labor all summer long.

Here are some simple how-to steps to build a raised bed:

Select your site: Find a place in your yard that receives plenty of sunlight (at least eight hours), with easy access to a hose/water source.

Gathering materials: Select a rot-resistant wood, such as cedar, but be sure you use a wood that has NOT been treated. Chemicals from treated wood can leach into your soil and into your foods.

Building your bed: Two by six lumber tends to be ideal. Decide upon your desired length, cutting each piece of lumber to said length. Make simple butt joint with a smaller piece of wood to attach the length and width pieces together. I find 4×4 wood posts work especially well. Pre-drill holes and screw corners together with galvanized screws.

Cut a piece of gardening plastic or weed footprint to cover the base of your raised bed in order to reduce the number of weeds you will have in your bed. You can also use cardboard, but note that this step is optional.

Now that your raised is in place, select the soil that you would like to use to grow this season’s crops. Mixing in compost is advantageous and great for your soil. Plan what seeds you would like to sow, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Adam Bates lives in Bellingham and is a freelance journalist.

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