This past weekend, the sun was out and spring was in full force here in Seattle. I spent a good amount of the weekend working in my yard. There is always so much to do at this time of year — cleaning up from the winter, pulling the weeds that have gone crazy with the first round of warm weather and prepping the garden beds for the season.
I also spent most of Saturday building new raised garden beds for my tomato crop. Earlier this season, I had three large shrubs removed from the back of our house where we get the majority of our sun, in order to accommodate more tomatoes. The bushes were a nuisance; they needed to be pruned many times over the year and they were taking up valuable real estate. Another reason I had them removed was that they were growing right up against the house and it’s not good to have vegetation touching the house.
This summer, our house will be repainted (look for a post on picking exterior colors soon), and I wanted to make sure that my tomato crop wouldn’t be in harm’s way. I decided to take the area that had been set aside for four or five tomato plants and rebuild the garden beds into three separate beds that will now accommodate upwards of twelve plants! I only had to buy lumber for two of the beds since I reused lumber from the old raised bed.
Raised garden beds are a great way to garden in the city. They are easy to build and offer many benefits. First, they allow you to dedicate an area just to vegetable gardening. Being raised from the ground adds more heat to the soil. Having a barrier like a raised bed also allows for your rich garden soil to not be washed away with watering or rain. They also provide great drainage so that the vegetables don’t get soggy. Weeds are less of a problem in raised beds as well, and pests like slugs and snails seem to be less of an issue too.
When building a raised bed you want it to be manageable, you want to be able to reach everything from all sides. I made the mistake of building an extra large bed years ago and next year plan to rebuild it into smaller sections, since it’s hard to reach the plants in the middle during harvest time. The easiest way to build a raised bed is to use non-treated lumber (you don’t want treated wood because the chemicals will leach into your soil). My new beds are 6×4 feet — just the perfect size — and I used 2×12 lumber. The 2×12 is great because this allows you almost a full foot of soil above ground. To build the beds. I like to stagger the corners for extra strength. This means that one end the long board runs into the end piece and on the other end it meets up with it (see picture).
To fill the bed, you want to first ruff up the soil below and then add a garden soil mix. I like to mix some of this into the ground soil first because his loosens up the ground. Then, I fill in with the new rich soil. Now, you are ready to plan what you are going to plant! Stay tuned right here for my garden list, coming soon.