Raised Bed Vegetable
Garden Basics

A raised bed vegetable garden is the cure for many gardening ills. If your gardening space is limited you can put raised beds though out your landscaping, like along your driveway or sidewalk. You can even place some along a south-facing wall. They can be any size or shape to fit your needs.

If your garden area is always wet then a raised bed is just the answer. Your vegetables will grow above the wet portion of the garden. A raised bed also gives you the opportunity to build up better soil in the bed than you may already have in your garden plot. Another benefit is a raised bed warms up quicker in the spring so your growing season can start a little earlier.

You can use terraced raised beds to level off sloped areas that would otherwise be unsuitable for a vegetable garden. It might be 6" high at one end and 18" high at the other but at least it would be level.

You can also build raised beds so they can be easily reached from a wheel chair if necessary.

Building A Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

raised bed vegetable garden frame

The wood to use for a raised bed is a matter of preference and price. Cedar is a good choice because it is fairly rot resistant but it is expensive. Pine is cheaper but it will rot within three to six years and will have to be replaced. Pressure treated wood for me is not an option. I don't like the chance of any chemical leeching into the soil and getting into my food. To be fair there have been studies done that say it would take a person eating these vegetables everyday for thirty years for the chemicals to become toxic to humans. It should be safe to go the pressure treated route, but I wouldn't.

A good width for a bed is 3 to 4 feet. With these widths you can easily reach into the bed without stepping into it to go about your gardening duties. If your bed is against a wall 2 feet should be your maximum easily reachable width.

The length can be any you wish. But 8, 10, 12 feet are common dimension lengths for lumber. If you build longer than 8 feet you will need intermediate supports so the sides won't bow out after you fill the bed with soil.

The sides should be built with 2" thick boards such as 2"x 6", 2"x 8", 2"x 10", 2"x 12" depending on what height you want your beds. They should be a minimum of 6". But 12" is a good height to sit on the edge of the bed as you work in the garden; this will save your back. With more structural support the beds can be built even higher for wheel chair height or to be able to work in from a standing position.

A good size for a raised bed vegetable garden is 4'x 8'. If you were to use 2"x 12" lumber this size bed would only need 3 of them to build. Two full length for the sides and one cut in half for the ends. You can build a bed as small as 2'x 2' and still grow quite a few veggies in that space and it would fit into many areas of your landscape.

Soil For A Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

This is where the raised bed gardener can excel. You can build up the soil in the bed to your exact needs and it can be much better than the existing soil the bed is built on. It will be loose and easily tilled by hand every year.

A large bed will require a large amount of soil to fill. The best mixture is about half soil to half compost. You can also add a little sand if more drainage is needed. You will most likely have to buy what you need to fill each bed. You can start off with some of your existing soil of course and build up with compost from there. I'm telling you again from experience it will take much more soil than you think. Believe me. Been there, done that. Just tell the person you are buying from your dimensions and they will tell you how much to buy.

When your bed is full of soil just make sure the PH is in the correct range of the vegetables you want to grow. You can get a PH test kit at your local garden supply.

Hopefully this page has started you off in the right direction for your raised bed vegetable garden.

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