Gardens, Raised Beds

Re-Building the Raised Beds

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Many of the original raised beds built by the previous owners from salvaged lumber from the property were in serious need of repair/replacement this spring.

When we moved to Three Bird Farm in the autumn of 2012, the vegetable garden was located behind the barn and consisted of seven raised beds built from 1x material salvaged from around the property. The area was covered with thick landscape fabric and there was a 300 gallon stock tank in the corner closest to the barn. We planted our first crop in the spring of 2013, which was promptly mowed down by a ground hog.

We built a fence.

In addition to the fence, we also covered the landscape fabric with 3/4″ crushed limestone. In 2014, we added three additional raised beds within the fenced-in area, and did our best to keep the older beds held together.

When the snow finally melted out in early April of this year, it was clear that at least some of the raised beds would need to be re-built before planting for this season. Because we were so late planting owing to a cold and snowy spring, we opted to build a new bed for the peas first, as we wanted to get them in the ground ASAP. With that bed and its trellis built, it was off to Storer Lumber to buy some 2x rough cut native hemlock planks and 4×4 hemlock posts for the new beds.

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The second to last bed on the left was the first to be replaced. The new raised bed for peas can be seen behind it. 

With your back to the barn, there are five raised reds on the left of the center path and five raised beds on the right. There is now also the new raised bed with the trellis for the peas on the left. The raised beds to the left are roughly 8’x4′ with a smaller bed closest to the barn and beside the stock tank. The raised beds on the right are all around 10’x4′.

We started with the second to last 4’x8′ bed on the left, as the last one was still in okay shape and may make it through this growing season. As anyone who has built a raised bed knows, it’s not rocket science. Using stout 2×12 rough cut hemlock planks and 4×4 hemlock posts at the corners, we built the new beds in place after removing some of the dirt and mounding the rest in the center of the bed.

The previous beds were not leveled against the grade, but the new beds are. They are also a little taller than the old beds, as the rough cut 2×12 hemlock planks are actually two inches by 12 inches unlike the finished lumber you would buy at the home supply store.

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Because the new bed is taller, we added some Little River Compost, which is MOFGA approved for organic growers, as well as a couple bags of organic gardening soil to bring the level of the soil up for planting.

The plan is to next rip out the bed above the new one. As you can see in the picture above, that bed is built with landscape timbers that, while considered safe for vegetable gardens, are still a treated lumber (using Micronized Copper Azole, I believe). In addition, they are not really high enough. We plan to re-purpose the landscape timbers for a retaining wall elsewhere on the property.

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