DIY Raised Garden Beds

A few months ago I was feeling sorry for myself that another season was going to pass where I didn’t get to plant food (I missed last season because we had purchased our current house and spent April-July remodeling it to get it move-in ready). Our exterior has endless work to get done and building raised beds wasn’t very high up on Jeff’s to-do list. I mentioned it in a forlorn way about a goo-gillion times sort of like this: “I am so bummed that I am not planning my garden right now”, “do you really think it would be that big of a deal to put raised beds together”, “honey, what are you thinking about a garden this year?”, etc. you get the point. So, like any sensible man who wants to quit hearing about the same thing ad nauseum, he went and bought some lumber and started building. I think he was happy he did it though, because for the next few days I couldn’t quit smiling and I kept saying over and over, “I am pretty sure you making me raised beds is my love language” and it is. Some people want quality time, some people want words of affirmation, I want a garden.

as an aside, my husband is sitting on the couch while I type this and he just said: “Is there anywhere specific you’d want to go eat on Wednesday (my birthday) if I decided to let you not cook?” I laugh, and then he says “watch your attitude, because I haven’t decided yet”…laughing is also my love language.

Anyway, these pictures aren’t going to grace the cover of Living anytime soon, since I already mentioned that our exterior is our current “project” but if you want to make truly simple raised beds (Jeff says they take around 45 minutes to make and cost around $25 each for materials), so that you too can be smiling all summer here is what you will need for 1 3×6 box that is 12 inches deep:

1. a chop-saw

2. a box of coated framing nails

3. a drill

4. a hammer

5. a box of 2.5 inch deck screws

6. 3 12 ft. 2×6 untreated lumber (for sides)

7. 1/2 of an 8 ft. 4×4 (for corners)

8. scrap 2×4 for optional cleats

DIY raised garden beds

{the last 2 pictures are progress pictures, still have a long way to go…but see all that glorious food growing? Doesn’t get more fresh and local then your front yard}

 Here’s what you do:

1. Cut 2×6 into 4 6 ft. lengths and 4 3 ft. lengths

2. Cut 4 10.5 inch lengths from the 4×4

3. Cut  2 8 inch lengths of 2×4  for cleats

4. Nail 2 boxes together separately

5. Stack on top of each other

6. Screw corner posts in (& optional cleats in the center of the long lengths)

7. Fill with good soil

8. Plant seeds and starts

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If you are a beginner to gardening here are some tips that I wish we had when we first began:

1. No matter how cheap DO NOT be tempted to buy these tomato cages:

crappy tomato cage

they are awful. They WILL tip over. Your tomato plants (if you live in the Northwest) will get larger than you can possibly imagine and by the time you realize your mistake your toppled over scrawny tomato cages will be completely intertwined with your plants and you will end up doing some weird homemade reinforcement structure…Save yourself the trouble, spend a little more money and buy these:

folding tomato cageor, make these DIY tomato cages:

diy sturdy tomato cage

{click here for the tutorial to make these super-sturdy tomato cages}

you will laugh when you see your tiny tomato starts surrounded by the fort knox of tomato cages, but you will be patting yourself on the back in August when you are harvesting tomatoes.

2. Thin your seedlings early and often. It feels a little sad after you have planted and watered your little seeds to pull more than half of them out when they arrive, but you need to give them enough room to grow, so don’t be shy, pull them out.

3. Give your plants some breathing room. Everything will get bigger than you think so give it the room to grow.

4. Trellis as much as you can. Unless you have tons of space, going up is the best way to maximize what you can plant. Here is some more info about how to grow vegetables on a trellis.

5. Buy good soil. Organic is best.

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Need some more inspiration? Here is an old garden post with lots of pictures of our garden at our last house. Or here is my pinterest garden board

Happy gardening.

time to plant your garden

Time to plant your garden…only problem is (as you know, if you’ve been reading) we are homeless, which means garden-less. The location we are currently residing in gets much of it’s beauty from loads of large, shady trees. Which means I can’t even plant a make-shift container garden. March in Oregon basically means rain (snow the last few days, strangely enough), which could be a downer, except if you are a gardener.

Here is the upside to all the rain (I am hoping to convert a few non-gardeners):

1. It keeps the soil really easy to work with

2. It gets me outside during a time of year that I normally would stay in all day.

3. Once outside, I realize how pleasant it is to be outside in the March rain.

4. The rain keeps you cool when you really get into the pitch-fork motion and start to get all sweaty.

5. Your kids will love it – rain or shine (give them their own little section and some seeds & let them have at it).

Since I probably will not be moved in time for a garden this summer, I am soothing myself by looking at our old garden & daydreaming about some new ideas for our next garden. Here are some pictures of our backyard, which was made up almost entirely of weeds when we bought the house (not the good kind with worms and such). This is the summer we moved in:

Husband building boxes and laying cover for the rock (this took a lot of math to get the angles right so the tops would be level, lucky for me my husband is meticulous about these sort of things):

This is the first summer of planting (that’s me in a sweet hat my mom got me at a yard sale, that is perfect for face sun-coverage). I adore the process of seeing the fruits of my labor unfold in neat little rows of beautiful food (not to mention the eating):

Each raised bed usually sees 2-3 different crops each season (or replanting of the same crop) & the perimeter bed is reserved for longer growing periods (like winter squash) & perennials (like raspberries) & things that climb (like beans).

some beans waiting to be pickled & some carrots waiting to be roasted:

Let’s face it, I could scour the internet or my favorite pinterest boards for hours looking for the perfect garden inspiration OR, I could just look at Martha Stewart’s AMAZING garden and start the daydreaming right there.  Some people like a free-form, here there and everywhere appeal to their gardens, with surprises and such. Not us, we like order (pretty much everywhere around the house, the garden being no exception). My husband and I both love having things tidy & organized. Martha’s garden takes this idea to a whole new level – It is a thing of beauty (just try not to be inspired):

you can find the full tour (& truly helpful garden information) here.

Hope you have been inspired to get outside, get a little wet & put your first seeds of the season in the ground. You won’t be sorry!