Building a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

April 06, 2011 | 2:04 pm

After years of “mooching” tomatoes from my garden, my neighbor finally convinced her husband to allow a garden in his pristine yard. Really, I don’t mind sharing my garden produce, but I am glad they are gardening. Now I can mooch out of their garden!

Thankfully, said neighbor is a scrapbooking queen and documented the process of building a raised bed for our benefit.

Step 1: Locate a spot for your garden. Ideally, a vegetable garden receives eight hours of sunlight and is close to a water source.

Step 2: Find a material to frame the raised bed. Stone and wood are the most common material used to build a raised bed. This garden was built with old telephone cross arms.

Step 3: Determine the size of the raised bed and cut to the proper size. This garden is 4 x 8 foot. With the garden bed being only 4 foot wide, you can reach the middle of the bed without stepping in it. Stepping in the garden causes soil compaction.

Step 4: Piece the frame together. In the picture you can see how the corners are staggered. This creates a lapped pattern that strengthens the frame (this isn’t necessary; as long as the frame holds in soil.)

Step 5: Pre-drill holes in each corner, as well as a couple more down the side of the bed.

Step 6: Place the bed in the “perfect spot.” Use a level to make the bed as level as possible. You may have to add or remove soil under the timbers to make the bed level.

Step 7: To secure the bed, drive a piece of rebar through the pre-drilled holes deep into the ground. You can also use galvenized screws to hold the bed together.

Step 8: Fill with the perfect soil!! You have 100% absolute control over the soil you add to your garden. I recommend a blend of topsoil, compost and decomposed manure. Soil is the main ingredient to your garden success.  You can purchase bags of topsoil, compost and manure at any garden store. Some garden stores also sell in bulk or by the truck load. If you don’t have access to a truck, they can deliver to your home. Of course, for a fee. If you are lucky, you may find free topsoil. Check the classifieds in your local paper. I highly recommend adding compost to the free stuff.

As you can see from the picture, we bought ours by the truck load and everyone got involved.

Step 9: Time to garden!! Start digging and plant your favorite vegetables. If you are new to gardening starting small will assure your success. It’s much easier to manage a small bed of weeds than a large one.

Step 10: Don’t forget your neighbors. Share your produce, and maybe they will be friendly to you too!