DIY Raised Garden Bed For Beans, Peas And Salad Greens

Construction & Contractors Articles

Raised beds allow you to garden in areas where the soil is not suitable for gardening. Because these beds are above the ground, the plants and their roots grow inside the bed much like a large container garden. While large plants, like tomatoes, typically require deep soil for their massive roots, some plants grow happily in as little as six to eight inches of soil. That means you can build a simple raised bed with cedar lumber for growing beans, peas and salad greens.

Choosing a Location

The location of your raised bed is important to the success of your garden. Take the time to check the amount of light the area receives. To grow successfully, most vegetables require 6- to 8-hours of direct sunlight a day. While the hours of sunlight do not need to be consecutive, they do need to add up to at least 6 hours. For example, if the sun shines directly on your garden location for 3 hours in the morning, gets some midday shade and then gets 4 hours of direct sunlight in the afternoon, it receives 7 hours of direct sunlight a day. Salad greens can survive on less, but your beans and peas will suffer if they do not get enough sunlight.

Preparing the Area

Remove any weeds, stones or grass from the area and level the soil. If the area has heavy vegetation, you may need to use a sod cutter to remove the sod. At this point, tilling the soil is desired, if the soil is workable. Otherwise, skip this step.

Building the Raised Bed

You will need two 8-foot and two 4-foot cedar boards to make the frame of your raised bed. A width of four feet is ideal for raised beds because it allows you to reach the center of the bed for weeding.

  1. Assemble the boards into a rectangular box shape and secure the ends with wood screws.
  2. Add angle brackets to the corner joints to secure the corners if preferred. While this isn't necessary with a 4- by 8-foot bed, it does provide more stability to the bed.
  3. Lay the frame down in the selected location.
  4. Cut a piece of landscape fabric large enough to cover the inside of the raised bed with a 6-inch overhang on all sides. Landscape fabric allows water to drain through the bottom while preventing weeds from growing up into your raised bed.
  5. Spread the landscape fabric over the bottom of the raised bed and smooth it out with your hands.
  6. Fold the overhang upwards on the inside of the bed frame and secure it to the wood with staples. 

Filling the Raised Bed

Mix equal parts garden loam or potting mixture, peat moss, and either compost or well-rotted manure to make a good soil mixture for your raised beds. Garden loam or potting soil alone is too heavy for raised beds and compacts easily. Adding the peat moss and compost or manure lightens the soil and helps with both aeration and drainage.You will need 16 cubic feet of soil mixture if you used 6-inch boards, and 22 cubic feet if you used 8-inch boards. Mix in 10-10-10 or 5-10-10 fertilizer following the application rate on the container.

Planting Your New Raised Bed

Plant peas and salad greens as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. These hardy veggies grow best in cool weather and aren't damaged by the frost. Beans, however, are tender plants that cannot tolerate a frost. Plant beans after all danger of frost has passed in your area and the soil has warmed to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit, says Cornell University. Optimal germination for beans occurs between 70 and 80 degrees, while lettuce, spinach and most other salad greens germinate best in soil with a temperature between 40 and 85 degrees, explains Cornell.

Many gardeners practice intensive or square foot gardening techniques when growing vegetables in raised beds. This means eliminating rows between the veggies and simply following the row spacing instead. For example, when planting your beans, plant the seeds 4 inches apart in a row and begin your second row spaced 4 inches from the first. The foliage of the plants creates a canopy which helps retain moisture and chokes out weeds.

For more information on cedar lumber, have a peek here.

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17 June 2015

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