Raised beds are great for growing veggies in for several reasons. 1. That perfect garden soil that you will so painstakingly create will stay put! Clay invades every in-ground flower bed I have which is great for natives but not so much for vegetables. 2. A raised bed is raised. That’s a whole 12″ less of stooping. 3. It’s easier to organize your veggies in an enclosed space. The square foot gardening grid is clean and unobstructed. 4. Fences, row covers, etc. can easily be installed in a raised bed.
I follow the fantastic and simple design laid out in Sunset Magazine some years ago. There is one mis-measurement in their article (in the 1″ PVC) and the prices are not current, so I’ve re-written it and added some other tips to follow.
For reference: Sunset Magazine’s Raised Garden Bed
HOW TO MAKE A HOPE GARDENS RAISED BED
Lumber 1 – Common Redwood 4x4x8 27.
6 – Common Redwood 2x6x8 112.
Landscape Fabric 1 – roll 4‘ x 36‘ 20.
Staples 1 – box 3/8” 3.
Screws 32- Screws 3 or 3-1/2” #10 or #12 wood 10.
Fence* 8 – 4’ steel fence posts 33.
2 – plastic green poultry fence rolls 40.
Shade Cover* 2 – PVC pipe 10ft 1/2” 4.
2 – PVC pipe 10ft 1” 6.
8 – Galvanized Tube Straps 3.
(these are semi-circular brackets, come in 4 packs)
16 – Screws 1/2” #8 wood 3.
Soil 16 – 2 cu ft bags planting mix 112.
Fertilizer Organic Vegetable Fertilizer 8.
Soil Amendment* Perilite, Vermiculite 20.
Compost* Hope Gardens Compost 100.
Plants & Seeds 120.
Total $412. (w/o astericks sections)
You will need a drill and a staple gun. You can get your lumber and PVC cut at the home improvement store if you want.
With a table or power saw, cut the 4 x 4 into four 12-in corner posts. Cut two of the 2 x 6s in half. Cut the 1-in PVC pipe into four 12-in pieces and the ½-in PVC pipes into 8-ft pieces.
Build bed upside down. Set a 4x2x6 on its thin edge on pavement, and place a 12-in post at one end. Secure post with two 3-in screws. Repeat at other end of board. Repeat with other short board. Join short sides with an 8-ft board; and secure with two screws. Add other long side. Add second layer of 2x6s.
Staple the landscape fabric to the bottom of the bed. You will need to staple 2 long pieces to the bottom. Don’t worry about securing the two panels together just staple along the sides of the bed.
With a buddy, flip the bed over. To hold hoops for shade cover, bird netting, or row cover, attach four 12-in pieces of 1-inch PVC pipe inside the bed: On the long sides, space pipes 4 ft apart, 2 ft from each end; screw on two tube straps to secure each pipe. (The photo below shows wire mesh rather than the landscape fabric we will be using.)
Fill the bed with planting mix, amendment and fertilizer. Break up any clods with your hands and mix well. Rake it smooth, and soak with water. If you can, allow the bed to rest for a day before planting.
To avoid fertilizer burn, always water well after adding dry fertilizers to the soil, and try to wait a day or two before you plant if you can. You can also add the fertilizers to your compost in advance of planting your vegetables.
It’s important to feed/fertilize your plants as they grow. Foliar feeding, which is spraying diluted liquid fertilizer on your plant’s leaves, gives me great results. I use Sea Magic, a powder made from growth-promoting seaweed, mixed with in a spray bottle, every 2 weeks. Plants like to be fed from their leaves as well as their roots. It’s called foliar feeding (go off now and impress your friends!). You can also spray the leaves with a compost tea or some bone meal mixed with water. Some liquid fertilizers, like fish emulsion, need a good amount of diluting so I apply them to the leaves and then a few minutes later, I water the plant so the fertilizer doesn’t burn the leaves. You can also pour the liquid fertilizer right on the base of the plant if you don’t have time for spraying.
Enjoy your raised bed and remember to turn the soil 2x a year between seasons.