Sunday, January 3, 2016

Planning a Homestead Garden Part 2: Raised Beds

Now that you have perused the seed catalogs and have an idea of what you want to plant, the second step in planning my garden is to build raised beds. My land here in Oklahoma is good and rich, but weeds and invasive plants can be a real issue when planting directly in the soil. To make things easier, I will be building raised beds. There are a multitude of raised bed kits that can be purchased, but I am on a limited budget, so I will be building my own raised bed frames from purchased, untreated lumber.

Lumber in Oklahoma does not hold up long to the seasons without being painted or pressure treated, but because I don't want any chemicals leaching into my soil and being absorbed by the plants we intend to eat, I choose plain old boards and will replace them over time. If I get 5 or 6 years out of the beds, I am ahead of the curve. Building raised beds is actually quite simple. Rather than try to describe the process, I am just going to show this video which nicely explains how to build them.

I will be building about 15 of these beds. The lumber is a nominal cost. It is the soil to fill it the first time that is going to really cost me. I will line the box with a weed barrier to block rogue growth of stuff from the ground underneath before filling each frame. I will also add hardware cloth underneath and extending out a bit on all sides to keep critters from enjoying my harvest before I do. 

I drew a rough diagram of my little hilltop where I have my tiny house. I decided to do all my gardening up here and put my animals on the lower 2 acres. Primarily I did this for ease of harvest and as a method of landscaping around my buildings. I like that I can always move the beds if I choose to do so, but keep in mind the dirt will have to be shoveled out and moved as well. 

In between the beds I am going to put down either rock, crushed oyster shell, or maybe even shredded recycled tires. I am not sure how easy it will be to get crushed oyster in Oklahoma, so I am guessing I will be using rock or shredded tires, but hey a gal can dream. 

Step 3 will be building a rich, thick soil to feed the plants and get the best yield.

To recap: Make a materials list of what you will need to build your beds, build them, lay them where you want them. Simple as can be, right? This is a also a great project to get the kids in on! 

Don't want to build your own raised beds? Here is a great option you may choose: 

4 X 4 Raised Garden Bed by Lifetime

This raised garden bed by Lifetime is 4' x 4' and just snaps together. It is an attractive alternative to wood and would enhance landscaping. Just quickly assemble and fill with soil. You are ready to go. 

Do you have another way to build raised beds to share? Have some pictures for inspiration? Add them to the comments below. 

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