Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Raised Bed: REV 2.0 Bigger and Better

The first raised bed was done in a hurry because it was already October and I needed to get something finished for winter vegetables.  It was about 6x9 feet, occupying the available space between a fence, shed, and compost bins.
Six feet is as deep as it can be without getting in the way of traffic through the side yard. However, six feet is too big to weed in the middle without crawling into the growing area. Four feet wide would have been much better, because a comfortable reach for me is 2 feet.

Geometry to the rescue! The new bed is a fat E-shape, 6x16 feet, with two indented areas to keep the entire growing area in my reach distance. It is, however, no longer "tool-free".
Old (top) and new (lower) bed outline

To make the changes**, I moved the left end boards over, made the overlap on the front and back boards smaller, added two new 6-foot boards on the back to fill the gap, and then sawed pieces from salvaged fence slats to make 4-foot and 2-foot boards for the kneeling areas.

The construction is the same. The fence slats are held upright by construction stakes with a dirt-blocker cut from a plastic pot at each corner. I dug out the area for kneeling in the lettuce bed without removing more than a few plants.
Kneeling area
The hard part of the project was not cutting and installing the boards, it was sifting enough compost to fill the extension.
High-tech dirt retaining device

Possible variations

A: If you have access on all sides, the bed design can be extended to the right and left to fit the size of the growing area, with a 2x2 indent added every 4 feet to keep the growing area within reach.
B: If you only have access on one side, the depth of the bed should be reduced to 4 feet, with the indents still 2x2 feet.
C: If your available space is deeper than 6 feet, make the indents deeper, turning them into dead-end pathways, and keep the width of the planting areas 4 feet.

Variations on shapes for best access
** One reason I like this construction method, despite the ramshackle appearance, is that it is easy to modify or remove.  If you are renting, or if you want a cheap, temporary bed while you decide whether you like gardening ... this would be ideal.

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