Extreme Raised Gardening

By: Beaule Agerter

Do you love to garden? Do you prefer fresh vegetables from your own garden? Does a tomato you grew just taste better than a retail tomato? How about those canned string beans versus your own- fresh from your garden? Carrots and peas, green bell peppers and jalapenos- you can grow them all the lazy man's way.

Reality check: Who has time to garden? Tilling the soil, adding amendments, planting, pulling the weeds, watering...lots of backbreaking work and expense you just don't have time for in today's hectic lifestyle? WRONG.

Today the name of the game is to find faster methods to accomplish your goals easier and more efficiently. In other words- learn to garden the lazy man's way!

Here's a suggestion- and you decide to follow it or not: You've heard of the raised garden? You know- that box that you grow your veggies in about six inches off the ground. Lets take that idea and build an extreme raised garden bed!

First, get yourself one of those heavy duty bunk bed frames made out of 4"X4"s (this really is going to be a raised bed!). You don't have to purchase new- there are lots of sources where you can get them used or even free sometimes. For example- one of the media stations where we live hosts a website with classifieds that have a free section for people to advertise stuff that they want to give away and we found such a bunk bed on that website. There are also relatively inexpensive ones at thrift stores. You can probably find one at a yard sale. If you think about it you'll be able to locate one cheap which will not only save you money but also spare you the cost and labor and time it takes to build one yourself.

Next: get some water resistant plywood to line the inside of the bunk bed frame on all four sides. It is available at most hardware stores. Most bunk beds have 8 cross rails to hold the box springs and mattresses- the 4 bottom ones and the 4 upper ones (a short upper and lower rail at each end and longer upper and lower rails along the sides). These are usually 2"X4"s combined with 1"X1"s. Cut the plywood to fit from the TOP of the existing bunk bed bottom 4 cross rails (1 at each end and 1 for each side) to the top of the TOP 4 cross rails. DO NOT NAIL IT ON YET. Before you nail it on, get some thick wire mesh- like the wire shelving people use in their closets or some strong expanded wire panels, and lay it across the top of the two bottom rails running the length of the sides of the bunk bed. Then cover it with shade cloth or screen or that weed barrier stuff- something that will hold dirt back but let water through. Add a 2"X4" to the outside of all four bottom cross rails attaching said 2"X4"s such that 1/2 of each one is anchored to the outside of the bottom cross rails and the upper 1/2 of each 2"X4" (that is to say about 1 and 1/2 inch of each 2"X4") sits above each cross rail.

Now you can attach the water resistant plywood. Nail or screw the plywood on (with the water resistant side facing the INSIDE of the garden space) to the outside of the top rails and to the inside of the 2"X4"s you added to the bottom four cross rails. If you get it right the plywood should be resting on the shade cloth and wire mesh, thus helping to hold that in place. A word of advice- don't scrimp on how you attach the plywood to enclose the space between the two bunk bed levels: go for strength- use nuts and bolts, construction brackets, large hex headed screws- whatever that will ensure that the plywood and wire mesh stays in place. And use thick plywood- 1/2" to 3/4".

Now load your garden bed with dirt. Ideally, you want compost- organic matter that nature has degraded into fine aggregate soil. Its very hard to find. In a future article we'll talk all about the controversy swirling about the too easy way that the word compost is applied to so many so-called 'top soil' products in the market place. For now just try to load your garden bed with the blackest soil you can find that drains decently but holds enough water to ensure the plants do not dry up.

Plant you vegetables! Ideally you've germinated them in egg cartons inside your house while it is still too cold outside to get them started. If not, then go buy some plants but make sure you do better next year. Install a drip system for watering on a timer. Now you have a vegetable garden you don't have to bend over to tend that automatically gets watered and that has very few weeds (unless you added soil already infested with weeds). Now you're gardening the lazy man's way! This garden bed will last you several seasons. You'll find it easy to maintain and you'll have years of easy and enjoyable gardening with it. In our next article we'll discuss the lazy man's way to have a showcase landscape of taste and beauty for minimal cost and for low maintenance requirement.

If you decide to follow this suggestion and it works out- great! If not, perhaps you might want to email me (see the link below to my website) and I'll try to help. Perhaps you might figure out improvements to this design- email them to share with everyone. Sharing information is key to success in gardening and in life!

Unfortunately, I have to include the following: I cannot guarantee anything regarding the above design or description of an extreme raised garden bed nor can I assume any liability for what anyone does with this design or description as I have no control over anyone's actions. Its your decision- use it at your risk. Good gardening to you, and may you enjoy the fruits of your labor! Happy harvest!

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Educated in agronomy and horticulture, and experienced in gardening and landscape design and maintenance. Read more at www.americandreamchaser.us

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