Although we wouldn’t trade our low-cost, hassle-free raised row gardening method for anything – (see: Growing with Simple Raised Rows) I have to admit that for a few select crops, using a couple of simple contained raised beds can make a lot of sense.
Raised beds are the perfect choice for crops that require planting and harvesting smaller seed crops like lettuce, carrots, radishes, onions,and kale.
Why? Crops with small seeds and seedlings require a loose and pulverized soil for easy planting and germinating – and it can certainly be more difficult to weed and thin these tiny crops as they grow in open raised rows.
The raised sides of an edged bed allow you to easily add in compost and soil to make a great planting bed and provide additional protection from weed seeds blowing in and germinating.
That is exactly why we added a few raised beds to our garden this year – creating them from a few inexpensive 2 x 6″ untreated pine lumber boards.
Not only are they simple and inexpensive to build – they can easily be installed into our existing raised rows each season, and then lifted back out in the fall to replant with a cover crop just like our other existing raised rows. This allows us to keep our crop rotation plan in tact by moving around the small raised bed structures each year.
Making Raised Beds – Keeping it Simple and Inexpensive.
You can go to a lot of trouble (and expense) in creating a raised bed area – but it’s simply not necessary. It’s important to remember that for the crops we are growing them with – a 6″ high frame is more than tall enough raised soil to work with.
You can make your raised beds out of almost anything (rock, wood, stone, concrete and more) – but for us it is about building something that is cost-effective and still aesthetically pleasing. (See: 6 Simple Tips To Find Free Pallets and Building Materials)
For our project, we used 2 x 6 untreated white pine lumber. We figure we can easily get 3 to 5 years out of our lumber beds – making it a great choice as to what we would have to spend for cedar or a more expensive material. Of course, they can be also made from wood scraps already on hand for an even less expensive choice!
In keeping with our growing rows – we created raised beds that are 8′ long and 24″ wide. That allows for us to easily put two raised beds in each 20′ planting row and still have enough room to put a few feet between each bed for walking through and harvesting. It takes just (5) 2 x 6 x 8′ boards to create two raised beds – and only took about 10 minutes to build.
We simply cut one of the 8′ long boards into (4) 24″ sections – and then pre-drilled the ends and screwed into the 8′ long boards to make each raised bed frame.
For a total of about $25 – we had two large planting beds that will allow us to plant our small seed crops for years.
The raised beds should make for an excellent addition to our raised row beds for the remaining garden – now allowing us to more easily plant and maintain the smaller crops that make up such an important part of our daily harvesting through the Spring, Summer and early fall months.
Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary!