Any tool which helps a person produce all or a portion of his own food helps to increase his quality of life. A gardener with several seasons of experience becomes a valuable source of practical wisdom in his or her local community. Gardening allows you to set aside a portion for the winter months. It provides you an opportunity to share nourishing, nutrient dense foods with others.
Raised bed gardening requires an up-front investment in the initial preparation and planning stages. Afterwards, the beds become less labor intensive than traditional ground level gardening. Some of the benefits of raised bed gardening include:
* Allows easier access for gardeners to tend their plants.
* Extends the growing season as the elevated soil is warmer.
* Can be used by apartment dwellers (balconies & rooftops) and those with limited yard space.
* The containers hold the soil you choose. You don't have to settle for poor soil conditions.
* Protects garden soil from compaction.
* Provides adequate drainage.
* Permits more plants per square foot because walking space is outside of the planter.
* Creates a barrier that discourages animals from eating your plants.
There are some differences in my box and the one designed by Ana, but the basic construction elements are the same. (Click on any of the images for an enlarged version.) First, I made my box 3 boards high (cedar dog-eared fence pickets), using the full length of the pickets for the sides and 1/2 the length of the boards for the ends. I used a pull saw to remove the dog ears before construction. The fence pickets were on sale for $1.59 each. I purchased 10. I also purchased a 12-foot pressure treated pine plank that was 8 inches wide. This was cut in half and used to create benches on the sides of the planter. These can be used as seating or just a handy shelf for gardening tools while working around the plants. 1 x 2 pickets hold all three boards together on each side. I used segments of 2 x 4's to create braces to hold the benches. Also, I kept the upper level of the end boards longer than the bottom two, creating a support on which the ends of the bench boards could rest.
The entire box was assembled using wood screws. I also used corner brackets on the interior corners where each board met to give added stability. All boards were pre-painted with contrasting paint purchased from the $5 shelf. The next time you're in the home improvement store, check for cast-off cans of paint. These are colors that have been mixed and not purchased. They are offered for sale at DEEP discounts. I look for latex, indoor/outdoor base and top-coat all in one.
Tools used included a Irwin Dovetail Pull Saw, Black & Decker electric drill (with screwdriver and drill bit). The pull saw is my new favorite tool as it gives me smooth, sanded finish cuts without chewing or splintering my wood. My electric drill never loses power like battery operated models can. I've used it for MANY projects for almost 20 years. It's a power-horse of a tool. I needed some clamps and appreciated an extra pair of strong hands to hold things in place during assembly.
The interior of the box is sized 17" deep 33" wide x 71" long. It will easily fit into the bed of a standard sized truck or the back of a family van (if it's the kind with rear seats that collapse).
This box has no bottom. We will lay poultry wire on the ground and set this on top before filling with topsoil. The wire will keep burrowing pests away from tender plant roots. The cedar planks are weather resistant, rot resistant and will help repel harmful insects.