Our 2022 garden: first raised bed box

With the garlic all harvested, we’ve got two empty beds that need to be readied for next year’s garden.

With these beds, we had dug into the soft soil we found under the wood pile, mounding soil into beds and making paths in between. This worked out quite well, but there were a couple of issues. One was, for such low raised beds, I found them too wide. They were about 4 feet wide, which would be fine for a high raised bed, but awkward to reach the middles on a low bed. That was partly solved by putting a board across the middle, which served to both mark where the different varieties of garlic were, and to give something to step on while trying to reach into the middle.

What can I say. I’m short.

The other issue was that the soil along the edges would end up in the paths, either from watering or from when the birds were digging around the garlic, early in the season.

The solution to both issues was to build a narrower box frame.

After scavenging in one of the sheds, I found some boards that would serve the purpose.

I dragged them all over to the beds. Here you can see one of them laid at the first bed I want to frame.

In total, I had 17 boards like the one in the foreground, plus 4 more that were the same length and thickness, about about an inch wider.

I decided to keep things simple.

I left four boards as is, then cut another four in half. The boards were all 6′ 1/2″ long and 5 1/4″ wide. Some of the half pieces would be used to increase the length, while the rest would be for the ends of the bed. I cut support pieces for the corners and to join the lengths together from some wood leftover from another project. Those were cut to match the width of two boards together.

The long sides were made by screwing the boards to the support pieces. The boards all have damage to them, ranging from old water damage and some rot, to splitting and cracking from being so very dry. Which is fine. They will do the job, and will last a few years, at least.

What wasn’t fine was flipping a board and almost catching my hand on these!!! They look like the screws were broken off on the other side, so there is no way to unscrew them from the wood. I have to think about the best way to get rid of these, using what tools we have, but for now, we’ll just have to watch out for them!

Once the side pieces were screwed together, making sure they matched in length, I brought over a couple of the wider boards to give a flatter, more even, surface to work on while putting on the end pieces.

Then I quickly tacked it together with just a single screw at each corner, to hold everything together while I worked.

Oddly, one piece was almost an inch longer than the others! Which is okay; the excess can be sawed off, later.

Here we have it! The finished box, next to the bed it will be placed at.

Here, you can see the difference in the dimensions quite clearly.

The box is about 9 feet long by 3 feet wide, and about 11 inches high.

In preparing these beds before planting the garlic, we dug out the soil and buried layers of straw and compost material at the bottom. Since the dimensions are being changed so much, I plan to dig out the beds again, then once the box frame is in position, will start filling it, hugelkulture style, by burying some of the branches we’ve been pruning for the past few years at the bottom, then layering the contents of our compost pile on top of that. Straw decomposes slowly, so I expect to find it when digging the bed out. If I do, I’ll be keeping it separate from the soil, so it can be layered back on again. As for the top layer of soil, I’ll take advantage of the situation to get rid of the weeds by their roots, then mix in some of the garden soil we purchased this year, before returning it to the bed. This soil tested healthier than anywhere else we took samples from, but it was still low in nitrogen, so adding the fresh soil will be a benefit. Once we have the materials again, the top will get layers of mulch to protect the soil.

I have enough wood to make a second box frame just like this one. I plan to build the second box before I start digging out soil. With the wider boards, there is enough to make a third frame for the bed that still has the beets in it, though it will be only one board high.

When this area is done, there will be three longer, narrower, framed beds with wider paths in between. This will make them much more accessible, even at their relatively low height.

Hopefully, I will be able to continue working on this tomorrow, but we’ll see how the day goes. I’ve got our rescheduled court date for the restraining order against our vandal in the morning. Hopefully, it’ll actually happen this time – and if the security guards try to tell me to leave and come back later, I will stay close this time.

The Re-Farmer

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