Raised garden beds are the perfect answer for anyone living with limited space. But these garden beds that we built aren’t your average raised garden beds. We made these taller – hip height on me (even though I’m not tall, by any means) – and they make gardening such a breeze! There are so many benefits to having tall garden beds. No bending over (easier on your back), no rabbits eating your plants, no worries of the kids or dog running through and accidentally trampling your plants…you get the idea. 😉 We (my Dad and I) built these two beds out of reclaimed lumber. Using reclaimed wood is all the rage – and rightly so. What a great way to breathe new life into something that would normally be disposed of.
When my Dad announced that he would be removing his old deck and replacing it with a maintenance free material, I jumped at the chance to claim all the old lumber. It was still in great shape (he just didn’t want to have to maintain it every year) – so he dismantled it and had new decking installed. I gleefully talked to him about the plans I had seen for these raised garden beds and after discussing different measurements and such, we decided on hip height (for me) and approx. 5 ft long by 3 ft wide. I won’t give you all the exact measurements and step by step details here (otherwise this will turn into the Longest Post Ever and you’ll never want to read another word I have to share). Lol! 😉
But let’s back up…
Let me back up a smidge. I’m getting ahead of myself. When we lived on our farm before moving to our current home, I loved tending our HUGE garden. (even though it got conquered by weeds every year – I blame pregnancies and newborns for my not being able to keep up with our huge gardens by the end of summer each year). 😉 Anyway…I love gardening, but when we moved to our house in town, with it’s small-ish yard, I knew a traditional garden would be out of the question. Time for some creativity. I remembered seeing a table-height raised garden bed at our school auction a couple years ago and knew that was the idea I wanted to go for. And so it began…
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Building the Raised Garden Beds
We used the deck floorboards for the sides of the raised garden beds,
the siderail support pieces for the corners, and the siderail “fillers” (what are they actually called??) for the bottom supports. You can see below that we had just laid the supports in to get an idea of how many we’d actually need.
To ensure that the bottom supports were evenly spaced, we cut a small piece to use as a “spacer” in between the supports and screwed them into place.
Lining the Raised Garden Beds
To line the inside of the raised garden beds, we used house soffit (like what you see on the underside edges of your house) – this allows for plenty of drainage so your gardens don’t become waterlogged. Waterlogged gardens don’t tend to grow very nice plants. 🙂
Now, had we left just the soffit for lining, we’d have soil slowly being leaked out of the holes every time it rained or when we watered the gardens. (Not cool, and not pretty). So it wasn’t even an option to leave it as it was. We purchased some inexpensive weed barrier fabric and used it to line the insides of the gardens. We simply stapled it along the insides of the soffit with a heavy duty staple gun. This not only keeps the outside of the gardens looking nice and neat (no soil loss), but it also continues to allow for proper drainage. Below is just a process photo…we wrapped and stapled the fabric neatly around the corner pieces inside.
Filling our Raised Garden Beds
After the gardens were assembled, we went and purchased an assorted mixture of soils and amendments to create our own “potting mix”. You do NOT just want to fill it with top soil – it will be way too heavy and dense – and won’t allow for good root formation. Of course, you could go and just purchase lots of potting soil (but it’ll cost a fortune) – so that’s why we created our own mix…to save a chunk of change. 😉
The below measurements are PER garden. We used 40 pound bags of everything.
(one 40 lb. bag = 1 part)
We created a mixture of:
- 10 parts compost/aged manure,
- half part peat moss (so only 20 pounds)
- and only 2 parts top soil.
At least that’s what we did – if it’s a huge flop and grows nothing, I’ll be sure to come back and tell you all about it. Another “what not to do” post….kind of like my kitchen cabinets. 😉 Bless.
You want to think of your raised garden beds (should you decide to attempt such a thing) as giant patio pots, needing a balanced mix of medium weight potting soil.
Once we got our gardens filled with our custom mix, then it was ready for planting! Yay! Only we live in MN, which means Spring takes Fo-evvva to arrive. Of course, that didn’t stop me from jumping the gun and planting things too soon a couple weeks ago. I lost one flowering annual and two tomato plants that week. Thank you, Frost. As of the writing of this post, it *just* warmed up enough for me to plant everything a couple days ago – yay! You can find some cute new garden tools here- I need some myself! 😉
Plants in Our Raised Garden Beds
My oldest son and I had so much fun scouring the local greenhouse and farmer’s market for lovely plants to grow in our raised garden beds. We chose lots of things, but here are a few highlights:
A Tiny Tim tomato – this little plant stays small and bushy, requires no staking and produces tons of sweet cherry tomatoes.
A Pinot Noir bell pepper – apparently, these peppers are multi-colored, with hues of purple, orange and red? I’ve never seen them…which is why I had to have them for this year. 🙂
A Pineapple Ground Cherry. I’ve never tasted these, but the grower told me her kids eat them like candy and they taste like pineapple. We can’t wait to try them…and the blossoms are so cute!
Are you a person who doesn’t want the added cost of purchasing plants (they are more expensive than buying seeds) but the thought of sowing seeds in *just the right way* completely stresses you out?? Then be sure to check out this post from Farmhouse Made for an easy way to start seeds from scratch without the stress of “Am I doing it right?!?!” She has a super fast and easy solution for even the most growing-challenged gardener.
Be sure to follow me over on Instagram – I promise to post photos of all the deliciousness that we get out of these two little gardens. 😉 I’ll be using some of our homegrown tomatoes to top my Chicken Taco Bake recipe! Oh, YUM.