When I started contemplating turning part of our back yard into a garden, in my mind the biggest challenge would be managing the grass (ahem, weeds) that grow back there. A few raised beds seemed like a good option for keeping weeds out and for controlling soil quality. Queue the big plans!
Plan in hand, I priced lumber and dirt. Ouch. We’re on a budget, folks. I’d need about $35 worth of lumber per bed. Plus dirt costs. Then seeds or plants on top of that. And mulch. All of the sudden, each bed became nearly a $100 proposition.
What to do? We decided to move ahead with one raised bed and to just plant the other stuff in the ground. Come fall, maybe we’ll put in another raised bed (or maybe we’ll have to save up until next spring.)
So I bought lumber and hired my husband to put it together:
We used this plan as a jumping off point. There are a million different kinds of raised beds. You can buy corner brackets that let you avoid fiddling with deck screws and corners. You can buy entire kits with all of the parts. There’s a solution for pretty much everyone.
Regarding lumber: we made a controversial choice. We used pressure treated lumber. I know, I know, we’re all going to die. I did a ton of research about this. One choice is to use un-treated lumber and know that it’s going to rot away sooner. Another is to use pressure treated and hope for the best. We let it sit out on the patio for a while (hoping the worst of it’s horrible-ness would seep away in the first few rains). New pressure treated wood has a different set of chemicals (that will still probably kill us) than did old pressure treated wood. Feel free to judge and/or not eat my produce.
What’s going into this bed? My herb garden!
True story: I started a ton of herbs in the house from seed. They grew up to be a little weak looking but I put them outside anyway. They all died. That’s partly due to our crazy weather this year and partly due to my lack of skill in this department. So I took myself down to the store and bought plants, budget be damned. Here they are in all of their glory:
I transplanted my mint and rosemary from pots on my front porch. Everything else I purchased this year. I can expect most of it (pretty much everything but the basil) to overwinter and be a perennial here (I think.)
Oregano, thyme, basil, parsley (two kinds), sage (various varieties), mint, rosemary, lavender, chamomile, and dill live in this box. I also have chives and cilantro growing in the bed next door (which I hope next year to make into a greens and herbs box as well.)
I’m so excited. It’s steps from my back door. It’s going to smell FANTASTIC as those herbs grow. I’m itching to create my own chamomile and lavender tea instead of having to buy it at Whole Foods for one million dollars.
Here’s a shot of the raised bed and it’s neighbors:
You can see the raised bed in the foreground, then two other beds and then a fourth lump of dirt. What’s that? It’s the bed I dug when our friend gave us free lumber for another raised bed!
The lumber was free but the dirt to fill it would not have been. We opted to build it, plant in it, and fill it later. It is untreated lumber but I think it has a few years of use left in it. Having the extra bed is an unexpected boon. It’s turned out to be my experimental garden bed. It’s housing our impulse plantings (so far – two varieties of onions and some more radishes but there’s room for more!) I’m taking suggestions – zucchini maybe?
Four beds + an asparagus bed = my spring garden. I’m so pleased with our progress. I’d love to know what you, dear reader, have planted (or dreamed of planting) this year.