Last time we talked about how (and why) we're Growing Vegetables in our Driveway (read Part 1 here)
Today, we're going showing you step-by-step how we built the raised bed garden boxes. It's very straightforward - a build a beginner can do!
Our initial inspiration for these beds came from Ana White and her $10 cedar raised garden. Sadly, ours will cost more than Ana's, but we have our reasons.
- We wanted a deeper bed. Planting on a warm, dry driveway will mean our soil will dry out quicker. Deeper beds = more soil = more moisture for plants.
- We wanted a stronger bed. Ana's beds from fence boards are cheaper, if you can make that work for you, go for it. But, we imagined a kid sitting (or walking or skateboarding) along the edge of our garden and seeing a split or bowed fence board and earth and seedlings pouring out.
- We wanted to put some landscape fabric inside the boxes so the earth didn't wash down our sloping driveway in the rain.
- We wanted something for the long-haul. These will be part of our house's curb appeal. We wanted something attractive and durable.
- MOST importantly: We chose cedar. While Pressure-Treated boards would be less expensive, we didn't want those chemicals leeching into the food we were going to all this trouble to grow.
- 4 cedar deck boards (5/4" x 6" x 8') ~ thicker and sturdier than fence boards \
- 1 cedar fence board (1" x 6" x 4') ~ these will be the corner pieces
- Outdoor screws/nails
- Landscape fabric
- Hammer and Drill
- Staple gun/staples
- Circular or Table Saw
This should give you 8 four-foot lengths.
2. Rip the Fence board down the middle
Do this yourself or get your building centre to do it for you - e.g. Home Depot will rip it for free.
Then, cut the resulting 1 x 3 into 11" lengths. (The Deck Boards are not actually 6" wide, due to finishing, so stacking two of them only makes the planters 11 inches tall.)
3. Assemble the first level of your frame.
Arrange the deck boards into a box - it won't be a perfect square since you are drilling into the ends, but it will be close.
I found our picnic table to be a near-perfect jig for holding the frame parts together. In absence of an old picnic table, you may have a friend that can hold the parts for you.
Assemble it with screws, making sure to pre-drill the holes first since you are working near the ends of the material and it splits easily.
|Picnic table jig. |
Not to be mistaken with a dance I do at summer BBQs after a beer or two.
|Take the time to pre-drill your holes. |
Split ends are not just something you hear about on Vidal Sassoon ads. Ba dum bum
4. Repeat the above steps for your second layer.
Get the same friend to hold the two layers together, or use some clamps. Look the box over and make sure both layers are lining up all the way around.
|Me and my friend the F-clamp.|
5. Position the 11" pieces of fence board on the corners, covering the screw-joint (insert your own screw-joint joke here). Check things over and drive some nails.
|A finished shot of a corner. |
Not super-pretty, but solid and nice enough for what we are doing.
6. Repeat on the other 3 corners.
The box in the foreground shows all 4 corners assembled and is ready to join its friend in getting lined.
|You can see daylight under the front edge of the first box - hence the importance of lining them.|
7. Line the boxes with Landscape fabric.
Carefully trim and fold the corners and staple it all into place.
Overlap by a foot in the middle of the box (unless you can find some 6-foot wide landscape fabric). You may be able to skip this step if your driveway is really level or if you are building your raised beds on top of earth.
Final Price Talley for 1 box:
- 4 Cedar Deck Boards (9.83 each) = $39.32
- 1 Cedar Fence Board $4.49
- Screws/nails ~ $3
- Landscape Fabric ~ $25 for 100' (we used maybe 15') so $3.75
- Total Cost = $50.56/ box
Not $10 a la Ana White, but the closest retail product we found was this one at Canadian Tire, $50, the same cost as ours, but it's smaller in size, unlined, fake wood and half the depth. We feel good about our choice.
Next time we will talk soil and what to put into your frames to make them the optimal growth environment for seeds and seedlings.
After that, we're talking about choosing and planting - and our plan to get our daughter to try more veggies.
(As far as planting - we are following the advice in this book - it's pretty much considered the bible of raised bed gardening.)
Questions, comments or complaints? (Other than how white my legs are... gimme a break, it has been a long winter.... and tanning isn't healthy... who am I kidding, this is as tanned as I ever get)