Thursday, January 12, 2012

Design Tips for Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens

Over the years I've gardened almost exclusively in raised beds for a number of reasons: a tiller isn't needed, the gardener has complete control of the soil, the raised beds can be set up for a good crop rotation layout, and the garden isn't dependent on the local soil conditions! I could go on about the advantages of growing in raised beds but today I just wanted to share a couple links on my other blog Growing The Home Garden that discuss some design tips for vegetable gardens that use raised beds.

11 Tips for Designing a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden 
While the title is self-explanatory this post offers some ideas to think about before you lay out you vegetable garden's raised beds. Even if you have already set things up it may be worth a look to see if there's anything you may not have considered for your raised beds.

3 More Raised Bed Design Tips
After writing the first post I found three more design ideas to share.

Benefits of Gardening in Raised Beds
I think that it's always helpful to remind yourself of why you are gardening in raised beds to begin with!  Check out these benefits to garden in raised beds and see if you can add any more advantages to the list!

If you find any of those posts helpful please share them with you friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and email!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Simple Lattice Style Trellis

I had an idea to create some privacy on one side of our house, build a trellis! I put together a quick design for a wooden trellis that could easily be built in a weekend and provide a nearly instant structure for growing climbing roses, honeysuckle, or other vine plants to create a nice living privacy screen. The trellis idea below is approximately 6' wide by 6' high. I think it would look great either stained or painted.

The trellis plan is fairly simple:

A) Two 8' 4x4 treated lumber posts form the sides. They should be set in concrete to assure stability.
B) A 72" long 2x4 to connect the posts
C) Another 2x4 this time cut at 84" to allow for some overhang at the top.
D) Set about 6 inches of gravel in a 2' hole for drainage and add concrete to secure the posts.
E) The vertical lattice slats are made from ripped 2x4s cut to 1.75" wide.  This will allow for one 2x4 to be cut into 2 slats. These should all be long enough to attach to the top board (C) and the bottom board (B). If the bottom board is set 6" above ground level these should be 66". Measure the distance between the top and bottom boards to get an exact measurement. Space the slats evenly (approximately 6" on center) by subtracting the width of the two end slats then dividing your distance by the number of slats you are installing, more slats will mean a shorter spacing.
F) The horizontal slats are ripped 2x4 like E. Secure them across evenly at the same interval as the slats in E.

Material List:
  • 2 - 8 foot 4x4
  • 10 - 8 foot 2x4
  • Concrete and gravel to fill approx. 1.5-2 cubic feet.
  • 2" deck coated screws
Pre-drill all holes to prevent the wood from splitting. 

Approximate cost: $75-100 without paint or stain.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Potager Style Vegetable Garden Layout

One of my many iterations of our vegetable garden layout was this simple potager style garden layout. It features two entrances. There were two large beds for corn and beans that were planted directly in the ground while the rest of the garden used raised beds for growing crops. In Tennessee our soils tend to be filled with clay and rocks which doesn't make for a wonderful garden but with raised beds we can overcome those issues.

Crop rotation is easy to accomplish with this many beds. I would recommend using fewer but larger beds. Combining the 2'x4' vegetable beds into one 6'x4' bed would add several square feet of gardening space.

Also here are 11 Things to Think about if you're considering a new raised bed vegetable garden.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Garden Border Ideas: Stone for Borders

Here's an easy idea to outline your garden borders and make them look simple and rustic but full of class: natural stone borders! Just gather up as much stone as you can, clear out your border area, lay the stones and your borders are done. They do require a little edging maintenance - grass likes to grow between the stones. A weed control fabric underneath the stones - or thick newspaper - may help to reduce the weeds. I prefer the newspaper since it will degrade and feed the soil. The weed control fabric will gather weed seeds and roots will grow right through the top of it which makes it difficult to weed. More photos of the stone border can be seen at my main blog by clicking on the picture below or the link provided above!

Plantings: Dusty Miller, Persian Shield, Sweet Potato Vine, Coleus

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Circular Raised Bed Garden Plan

Recently I converted a couple of my small raised beds into a circular raised bed garden. It's about 7 feet in diameter, any larger than that and it would be hard to reach the center. It's made from decorative concrete retaining wall blocks that are about 12 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 4 inches high. The advantage to concrete blocks over other raised bed materials is that they will last a very long time! Also if I decide to raise the depth of the soil in the future I just need to add another layer of blocks.

The Planting Plan:
For this garden I've planted my spring greens. Three kinds of lettuce and two types of spinach. The red lettuce is called Rouge D'Hiver and is one of the best tasting lettuces I've had. I've also planted Tom Thumb Thumb and Little Gem lettuces. One of the spinach varieties is Bloomsdale Long Standing and the other is a hybrid salad spinach. How to plant the garden above and in what arrangement is up to the gardener. To divide the sections I took three straight sticks and laid them to separate the bed into six pie shaped sections then planted seed in between them.  Easy as pie!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A 'U' Shaped Raised Bed Garden Layout

Last year I was visiting a friend's garden who designed her family's raised beds in the shape of a 'U'.I found the design to be very functional with a good deal of space for growing compacted into a small area. The big advantage was the soil depth. Since the soil was at least 2 feet deep in each bed it had plenty of nutrients for intensive planting. If you have more room you could build additional beds on each side to make a sideways 'E' shape. Having three raised beds also allows for some crop rotation although a fourth or fifth bed would aid that technique greatly.

This vegetable garden layout could be constructed from many different materials but cedar, redwood, or composite materials might work the easiest. Each bed is designed to be 3 feet wide. The two smaller beds are 6 feet long and the large bed is 10 feet long. 12'x12' paving stones make the pathway easily accessible for handicapped gardeners.