This project describes the construction of a raised vegetable garden bed. My brother-in-law in Houston has a beautiful garden covering a large portion of his back yard. When he visits he always brings some very tasty vegetables with him. So in collusion with my mother-in-law we put in a small raised bed in the back of her yard. I made a number of rookie mistakes, so hopefully this post will help you avoid repeating those mistakes.
The bed is in a location with a significant slope, so there was some extra modifications to make everything level.
The location for the bed was partially leveled by cutting away half of the hill and moving the dirt to the lower end of the bed.
The next step was to create the first box on a nice flat location. I chose to use cedar 1×8’s since they are naturally rot resistant and I did not want any of the chemicals from treated lumber leaching into the bed. I used an outdoor wood screw rated for wet conditions to hopefully avoid having the screws rust. This particular bed is 4’x6′.
The bed was then leveled using extra long legs on the down hill side of the bed. The first box acts as a base for the rest of the bed that will be built above and below this box. I made the mistake of only planning for one level at a time. An easier method would have been to calculate the final height of the legs you would need and cut them all at one time.
In a similar manner the next level was added to the bed.
Next a wedge must be cut to fill in the lower end of the bed. I made the wedge long enough so that I would have a significant amount of material to screw the wedge into the middle support post. I used a spare 2×4 as a straight edge to evenly bisect a 1×8. If the board is cut symmetrically, one wedge can be used on each side of the bed.
After cutting the wedge, I tested the fit (with the manufactured straight edge up against the bottom of the first box) and realized that I needed to score a line and make an additional cut on the end of the board since it sticks out at an angle. At this point I made the mistake of removing too much material. This mistake would haunt me for the rest of the build. None the less, the raised bed was one step from complete.
The last step was to add an additional board to fill in the gap on the short length on the downhill side of the bed. Since I was working with limited material on the wedges I ended up making a non matching but joint. While structurally equivalent, it just looks funny. This concluded the carpentry for this project.
If I could build the bed again I would change a couple of things. Obviously I would fix the but joint issue on the down hill side. I would also drive my screws from the inside of the bed towards the exterior to hide any signs of the assembly hardware reulting in a much cleaner looking final product.
Next came 32 cubic feet of soil!
Future work will include planting the garden and creating a fence to keep the deer from helping themselves to the contents of the garden. As it stands now, we will be attempting to grow tomatoes, peppers, basil, mint and possibly cucumber. If I get a single good BLT sandwich out of the garden, it will have been a successful project.
Update: The garden has been planted!
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