Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

Quick and Easy Raised Beds

The March issue of Sunset Magazine has an article on growing productive gardens in a small back yard area, using 4x4’ pre-fabricated beds made of milled cedar boards.  This inspired me to try it myself, and my partner and I designated a small sunny area on the north side of our lot next to a concrete patio.  I ordered two of the 4x4’ beds, each with 6” height extensions, to make it easier to work.  Minifarmbox.com is the source, and before long, a UPS truck stopped in front of the house, and brought the boxes containing the disassembled bed pieces to the front porch. 

Just a few days ago, we put them together, and it was incredibly easy, taking only about 10 minutes per box.  The corners of the boxes have small holes for metal rods, which hold everything in place.   Disassembly should be likewise an easy task, in case we change our minds about the location of the beds.

Next, we filled the completed boxes with potting soil, which I got at discount at a local “big box” store.  I prefer the one cubic foot bags because they are easier to handle, and I prefer to use potting soil because it is so easy to work.  In fact, you can harvest potatoes by sticking your hand down into the soil around the plant without damaging it or to see if they are big enough.  To this, I can add home grown worm compost, which will add to the richness.   And, should the dreaded Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L.) appear, you can reach very far down with a trowel to get to its intrusion point. 

Each box needed 18-20 bags, depending on how close to the surface you like to have the soil level.  (I used 20 bags.)  I also ordered customized irrigation systems for each bed (again, minifarmbox.com), which will go in after the veggie starts are in.  During the winter the top extension boards, once removed, will expose the corner pins, which can serve as anchors for a PVC pipe frame for a plastic-covered hot house. But for now, we look forward to months of leafy greens and summer veggies from these beds. 

See also, Mel Bartholomew’s book, The New Square Foot Garden Book, which lends itself to close planting in a small, intensely worked area, perfect for these small beds.                                              

The materials for the Mini Farm Box. (photos by Bud Veliquette)
The materials for the Mini Farm Box. (photos by Bud Veliquette)

Assembly of Mini Farm Box.
Assembly of Mini Farm Box.

Adding the soil.
Adding the soil.

Almost there, it just needs plants now.
Almost there, it just needs plants now.

Posted on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 8:09 AM
Tags: Mini Farm Box (1), pre-fabricated (1), raised beds (7), soil (23)

Comments:

1.
Why did you decide to go with raised beds? They are an awfully expensive and work-intensive way to go, instead of just working with your surface soil. The only reasons I can think of for using raised beds are (1) you want to build a garden on an impervious surface such as a concrete or brick patio (2) your surface soil is contaminated or (3) your surface soil is impossible to work with. I agree, raised beds look good, but I am more interested in veggie production and saving money by growing my own.

Posted by bil paul on May 12, 2013 at 9:58 AM

2.
I am planning on putting in raised beds next year because I am tired of putting in hours of labor and expensive amendments only to get poor return on investment from my poor clay soil each year. Perhaps after 10 years the soil will be rich, but after 3 years of wasted time and effort, I'm just not willing to do it anymore.

Posted by jennifer on May 25, 2013 at 12:47 PM

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