Monday, June 8, 2009

So you want to build a garden box, eh?

Ok you asked for it!

The good thing about raised beds is that even if you have lousey soil, or no soil in some cases like a concrete yard... this will make gardening easy. Especially for old folks who don't want to be on their knees or bed over a lot. I built this box a little higher than you really need so that I would be able to reach all over the place with it. Once you fill it with soil mix, it will provide the excellent drainage needed to grow picture pperfect vegetables and flowers most of the year!

You can build the basic raised bed in a few hours, then add versatility by mounting PVC pipes inside to hold hoops that elevate bird netting, or in colder weather plain old plastic to either start the seedlings early or just cover the crops for better production, sort of like a mini greenhouse.

For best results orient your bed north-south for maximum sun exposure.

It is preferable to use redwood or cedar ― both are beautiful and rot-resistant. But here in Mexico, most likely you can only get Pine, there are some regional woods that also are rot-resitant,so ask your local lumber monger.

You’ll need a table or power saw to cut the wood; after cutting, paint the wood on all sides with an oil-based sealer or stain or left over deck sealer, almost anything will work. I would not use house paint since you don't know what stuff is in that. I chose to paint it a redwood color stain.

The first box I built was only 12 inches high, as shown on the photos. the 2nd one I

doubled it, to be 24 inch high. I personally like the bigger box because I do not have to lean over or ben

d over as much. The downside is that you will use twice as much wood, screws, and soil mix. You can start with the shallow box first and see how you like it, then change it. The construction is simple and you can adjust the size to fit your particular space and requirements.

Have fun!

An electric drill is helpful, though not required.

Stuff you will need:

One 6-foot-long 4-by-4
6, 8 foot long 2x6's
1 10ft long 1 inch PVC water pipe
2 10ft long 1/2 ich PVC pipes
1/2 gallon semitransparent exterioir oil stain
32 3 1/2 inch #14 wood screws
16 1/2 inch #8 wood screws
1 roll of 1/4 inch mesh hardware cloth. total of 4x10ft
If you are putting this on top of concrete you do not need the hardware cloth
I used it because I didn't want mole, gophers, rats and other things digging into
the box.
8 1 inch conduit straps
32 cubic feet of soil or mix.

Here you can see one of my boxes with Beets, Carrots, Snow peas and strawberries.


Leslie Limon said...

AAAHHH!!! I love it! This is all
I've talked and thought about all
day. Thank you so much Constantino! You are a gardening guru. I've been inspired and determined to start my own garden (which has been a lifelong dream). I just never knew how I'd do it, since my back patio is nothing but cement. Finding the materials is not a problem. Hubby has most of it in his upholstery shop. Just one question...Could a box be made of brick. We have a HUGE pile of bricks that the owner of the house intended to use for this same idea. And when can I start planting? I want to start ASAP, but do I have to wait for a specific season? Thanks again for all the help!

Constantino said...

The only problem with using bricks is that unless you have some way of securing them, (mortar) they may shift with the dirt movement etc, and create spilling problems of containment of the dirt.
Not a big deal if you want the hassle of the maintenance now and then. You basically want a big sand box of some sort.
The other key is the correct mix of dirt. If you have access to compost, I would recommend some fine sand, or dirt, with compost, with out any large stones or pebbles. The vegi's like carrots like a sandy sail so they will grow straight. Also be careful not to have the sand be to alkali like directly from the beach. Once you have the box with your soil mix you will have to use some liquid fertilizer every two weeks or so as your watering, since the growing medium (soil) is not as fertile as the dirt in a farmers field. You could actually grow stuff in anything, as long as you have the right nutrients. There is a lot of info on the web, where you live I would think you have an ideal growing season all the time, ask around some of the locals as to when they plant and just experiment. Where we are the rainy season starts now, and growing is pretty decent, the only slow time is in the winter, Nov-Feb when lettuces grow ok, but slow,... have fun with it, you may enjoy it!
If you toss your vegetable scraps and stuff, build yourself a compost pile, it will save on the tossing of trash and make a great soil additive too!

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