I have just finished building my first raised garden bed.
Ever since I built my enclosed garden bed back in September I’ve been hit with the gardening bug in a big way. The benefits have been endless – we have a new hobby that is almost free, we get outside into the fresh air, and get to harvest vegetables that are healthier and tastier than anything you could buy at the supermarket.
Follow the steps below and you’ll see how easy it is to build a raised garden bed at your place so you can produce some of your own vegetables and herbs.
The materials for my raised garden bed
- 9x 2.4m pine sleepers
- 40x 50m screws
- Black building plastic
- Dumped bricks and concrete
- Straw left by the previous owner of our house
- Seaweed from the beach at the front of our house (shameless brag!)
- Leftover sheep manure
- A ten foot length of scrap timber
Total cost: Approximately $100
Expected lifespan: 25+ years
The materials I used create 2.4m x 1.2m x 60cm raised garden bed which is a good size to be able to reach into the middle but not have to bend over too far either. The best part for us is that it’s too high for wallabies and rabbits to get at the vegetables.
Cut three of the pine sleepers in half. You will now have six full length sleepers for the sides and six halves for the two ends.
Place one layer of the raised garden bed into position so you can see how it will look fully assembled. Then screw the ends to the sides making sure each join is at 90 degrees. Repeat with each of the next two layers – place each on top of the other. At this stage, each of the layers are not connected.
Tac plastic around the inside of the raised garden bed. This is to keep water and soil within the bed rather than seeping out the sides – it also prevents the chemicals used to treat the pine from leeching into the soil. This may or may not be an important consideration depending on who you listen to, but plastic is cheap so why not?
Cut the scrap timber into six lengths long enough to be joined to a sleeper on each layer. Use the lengths to stabilize the structure – I used two on the sides and one on the ends – this also keeps the plastic in place.
It’s a deep bed, and it’s not necessary to fill the whole thing with soil if it’s only going to be used for vegetables and herbs. I filled mine with broken bricks and pieces of concrete that some inconsiderate dick dumped at a local boat ramp.
I took two boot loads and filled the bottom third of the raised garden bed with rubble. This allows the bed to drain well and takes up some space so you have to use less topsoil which is potentially expensive. I then covered the rubble with a layer of left over straw, followed by seaweed and manure.
Topsoil combined with compost if you’ve got it finishes the job.
The best part about this project is undoubtedly that I got to reuse some items from around the house and from the local area provided by nature or litterers. We realized we had more water than we thought in our spare tanks, thanks in part to our water minimization habits – so we wanted to expand our vegetable garden operation.
A raised garden bed is perfect for us because it’s close to our tank making carrying water to it very easy, and is also close to our front door making it perfect for a kitchen garden packed with herbs and quickly harvested crops.
Consider a raised vegetable garden if you:
- Like tasty vegetables
- Have an outdoor area even if it’s small and covered in concrete
- Want to be able to put a garden bed wherever you like
- Want to try your hand at growing vegetables without digging up your lawn