We found that it makes sense to have at least some of our crops in raised beds. I heard a real estate
agent one time that said: “Value is tied to Location, Location, Location”. Having some crops near the
back door of the kitchen sure made sense, but with three dogs, a regular row garden in the back yard
just wouldn't work (our man-dog would make sure of that!). But some raised beds were the perfect
answer as long as the dogs wouldn’t try to jump up into them (and they haven’t!).
Also raised beds seemed perfect as we got older as well. Good night, we have enough pains without
having to bend over all the time to take care of the vegetables! Kate has arthritis in her back, so we
came up with a height that seemed to work for her (guys, you need to pay attention to the wonderful
women that put food on our tables!). If you build a taller bed than the crops need, then you can always
fill in the bottom part with a sandy loam so it has good drainage. Good drainage is important so the
plants don’t get root rot.
Now, in contemplating (that is my word for sitting in a lawn chair with a glass of lemonade and
fantasizing about those delicious vegetables on my plate), I realized that we had a couple of problems
that needed to be addressed:
1. We had “Mickey the Mole” and all of his relatives that live on our farm that love to sample the roots of
our vegetables. A raised bed would be ideal, since we could put galvanized screen in the bottom to
keep them out, and at the same time let the soil drain.
2. The beds would need water, but we just hate winding up all that hose! Maybe we could get the raised
beds close enough to a faucet so a short section of hose would work! But watch out - it needs to be far
enough away to get it out of the shade of the house.
3. To help keep the deer and birds out, we needed a protected location and method of attaching netting
at some point.
Okay, so after the lemonade, it was time to get serious and search the Internet for ideas. Some of
the additional advantages we found were:
• The soil in raised beds warms up faster in the spring, which would result in earlier crop
• You can select our own soil mixture (maybe some Peat Moss, cow manure and compost would be
good – and available in bags from your local garden supply center).
• If you need to use netting or shade cloth, you can easily build one out of ½” PVC piping to make a
tent and either drill holes or simply attach it to the sides of the boards.
• If you have a fence, you can build next to it for a built-in trellis for peas in the spring or pole
beans, etc. later on.
Then there are a few things that I would not thought of had I not read them (and it would be too late
to correct these after it is built)
• Treated lumber will last longer, but it is toxic to plants. The solution was to use a heavy (like
3 mil plastic), on the sides of the interior of the wood that would be in contact with the garden soil).
• Don’t make it too wide! 24-30” is about the max reach before we start tipping over onto our face
what a sight that is, and not too good for the plants either!
• Watch out for runoff water that can get trapped on the outside of the bed. We have ours on a
hillside and at the bottom we are building a strawberry bed that will be in a “L” shape. To solve a
trapped water problem, we will be putting a drain pipe under the bottom bed with gravel at both
ends to allow the rain water to escape.
There are endless possibilities and ideas. Get out that lawn chair and some lemonade and do a
little contemplating on your own. You’ll be glad you did!
Peas growing on the fence. And below was taken mid summer. We
were sure pleased for being first year beds. Can't wait to see what
they do this year! And of course we are building more!
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