Raised bed ideas?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by ladyrua, Oct 24, 2006.

  1. ladyrua

    ladyrua Well-Known Member

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    My first garden ever went really well this year - and now I am anxiously planning for next years!!!!!! Last year, I used rocks and bricks to make edges around plots (didn't have enough soil to really raise it up much, mostly wanted to keep stuff contained) and although it worked okay, I'd like to move to more traditional raised beds next year.

    Here's my dilemma - I'd like to use 1"x10"wide boards with I guess rebar stakes holding them in place - I think I've seen other people do this with some success. And I understand not to use pressure-treated wood, but what else should I know? Is it okay to do it now, before winter, so I can set my layers to composting, or will the wood rot? Can I buy already cut rebar stakes, or will I need to figure out a way to cut them?

    Thank you all, I've learned so much from this site!! Thanks in part to HT, I've got five or so shelves full of canned goodies from the garden - a year ago, I had no idea how to even start!!!
     
  2. kitaye

    kitaye Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure why you want to use rebar unless you plan on the beds being open on the 2 ends. We used 2x10x10ft spruce planks and screwed them together the make a 10 x 4 foot rasied bed. Then over the last 2 years we've added compost, manure, and soil as required.
     

  3. rocket

    rocket Well-Known Member

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    I agree with using 2x10's instead of 1x10's. Then you can screw or nail them together and forget the rebar stakes. And you're correct that you shouldn't use the old pressure-treated wood (doesn't it have some sort of cyanide compound in it?), but I thought there were newer types that you can use. You can try to find a rot-resistant type (like Redwood, Cedar, or Cypress), but I made my beds out of plain old Douglas Fir and they're still holding up well after four years. Yellow pine might not last quite as well.
     
  4. William G

    William G Active Member

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    the new pressure treated lumber can be used because it does not contain chromium and arsenic like the older lumber. any material can be used for raised beds, it all depends on how long you want it to last and what it looks like
     
  5. Zebraman

    Zebraman Well-Known Member

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    Hey Ladyrua;I use 2x 12's and nail them together at the ends.I am 6'3" tall and make my beds 5 ft. wide so I can easily reach the center of each bed.Doing it now will save a lot of time and work next season.If you double dig the beds at the same time you'll even get more produce out of a given bed.-
     
  6. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    8 inch concrete blocks (7.5 x 7.5 x 15.5) are about $.84 each at lowes. if you do a double row by stacking them, you will never need to replace them. you can stagger the block and use rebar if you need to or just fill them with gravel or dirt. if you need to use rebar, it comes in various sizes and should not be too hard to pound into the ground. it can be cut with a hack saw...i just did that for a porch project, but it was very tiring.
     
  7. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    oh yeah...the holes in the block hold flower pots really well. :) you could have marigolds or anything you like in them.
     
  8. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    i agree with meloc.

    i use concrete blocks. i started about 3 years ago, and have been getting the best gardens ever! they hold the heat, so work as season extenders. i can get lettuce and greens 9 months out of the year. this past year, i didn't have the first sign of any bugs or disease, didn't even use any organic pest control. each bed had it's own resident frog (kind of a reddish brown) and i guess they kept the bugs out.

    another good point about using blocks is that if you do decide to move, all you have to do is pick them up and take them with you.

    seems to me the wood would rot sooner or later. i use cedar one time, but they were completely rotted after 3 years. :shrug:
     
  9. ladyrua

    ladyrua Well-Known Member

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    I hadn't even thought of using concrete blocks! I'm going to go get them tonight for the first bed and we'll see how it works!!!!

    Thank you so much, i'll post pics when it's complete!
     
  10. ceresone

    ceresone Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Wish i had all 40 of my beds blocks instead of only 3--oh, well, in time--plus you can use the rebar in the holes, slide a pvc frame down over them, cover in plastic, instant greenhouse--saw in paper other day, man used 2 layers plasric, raised his garden 2 full zones. plus--putting a flat patio block on top, makes a good seat.
    one gentleman frames his with straw bales, puts wire around them all--gets 2 years out of a bed--then he has nice straw for mulch. PSST--blocks are $1.89 here
     
  11. labrat

    labrat Well-Known Member

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    I use landscape timbers and then by overlapping them you can make the bed as long and wide or as tall as you want; and because of the thickness of the wall, I have placed a glass roof that is hinged, thus allowing me to vent the heat when necessary; in other words, a cold frame. Here’s an image of the basic idea, I don’t cut to fit I just butt the timbers and the next layer is overlapped, thus locking the timbers tight.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Sonshe

    Sonshe Well-Known Member

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    What is "rebar?" Where do you get it?
     
  13. PyroDon

    PyroDon Well-Known Member

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    You should be able to get rebar pins 24"x3/8 rebar at any decent lumber yard .
    if your pinning your sides you might consider hardi-plank siding . its only 3/8 thick but its cement board . I personally would paint it on all sides but it wont rot like 1x pine .
    Ive used it for concrete forms when I needed a gentle curve .
     
  14. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    about making covers- the blocks work well for that. i also made covers out of pvc pipe and chicken wire, to keep the chickens out of the strawberries. for a mini greenhouse, i just stretch 4 mil plastic over the pvc frame, and use the holes in the blocks to anchor it. in spring, if i need row covers. i use tobacco cloth (ramie) anchored with whatever is handy.

    i will never, ever go back to tilling and hoeing a garden again, this works so much better and easier.
     
  15. labrat

    labrat Well-Known Member

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    I don't use rebar, but just take your circular saw and put a metal cutting blade on it; in no time you'll rip right through it. Much quicker than a hacksaw.
     
  16. Aintlifegrand

    Aintlifegrand Well-Known Member

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    On the concrete raised beds, what is the best sizes that you recommend for basic veggies like tom, cucs, squash etc?
     
  17. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    you can get 10 or 12 inch blocks, but i would get the 8 inch block and make a double row. stack them 2 high. i made some beds out of used blocks. it is only a single row, but the soil is good and is dug down another 8-12 inches. it is also on a hill against a fence so the fence end is deeper and is a pile of rubble and rocks. i actually used bricks on the front side opposite the rubble with blocks running between the brick and rocks. i was trying to make do with what i had to work with and make it look somewhat uniform and not so hodge-podge. i dug down and used small rocks and gravel to give the blocks a firm base to keep them from sinking to far.

    if i were to build a new one with all new materials, i would dig down 3-6 inches and fill with gravel all but one inch to help lock the block to the soil. i would then lay out the first course of block the desired size of the bed. then i would stagger a second row of block. that would lock everything in place. filling the holes with gravel would give the blocks enough weight to keep them from shifting. since the blocks are actually 7.5 inches tall, a double row sunk 1 inch deep would give 14 inches of soil depth above what has been worked below the fill soil.

    i think making the beds 4 blocks wide is about the best size. make them as long as you wish.
     
  18. ladyrua

    ladyrua Well-Known Member

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    This is all wonderful advice!!!

    I also scored big by putting a wanted ad on craigslist - so far got almost 150 blocks FREE!!! Just have to go pick them up - that's what the DH and his van are for, doncha know!

    Plus, my yard is (questionably) blessed with lots of bitty rocks that I can fill the bottom holes with to stabilize! I think I'm going to go with two 24'x5' beds, and a smaller 10'x5' bed.

    Thanks all - now to clearing and prepping the yard!!
     
  19. ceresone

    ceresone Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The idea is to make the beds no winder than you can reach across from either side--if you can reach the 5' width from either side, go for it, but i think the recommended width is 4'. length optional
     
  20. 3ravens

    3ravens on furlough-downsized Supporter

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    We made ours out of the dump pile that was here when we moved in! There were all these metal panels......maybe from a prefab building. 8 feet long and 10 inches high. We cut some in half for the ends, so our beds are 4 x 8 feet. Anchored them with the rebar that was here too..... :p Put them near the chicken run. SIL has plans to fence in the garden to keep out critters and so the chickens can be let into the garden periodically for bug patrol.
    Make your beds narrow enough for you to reach into the middle from the sides. You shouldn't have to step into them to get to stuff. Get the Square Foot Gardening book or go to the website for good ideas on planting and spacing.