The original four beds constructed six years ago have served me well. My biggest problem in those six years was… not enough space. I never had enough space to plant the vegetables I wanted or enough room to properly space the ones I did. What choice did I have but to expand the garden by 50 percent. This spring (2012) I added two more 4 x 8 ft garden beds bringing the total count up to six. This page is to document the process by which these two new beds were added.
First off, the original four beds were a lot of work. I learned a lot and had an excused to buy some new tools, but in the end, it was costly and time consuming. Thankfully the world of raised bed gardening has made some progress and is more popular six years later. Like the originals, the new beds are also constructed of cedar and are roughly the same size but that is where the similarities end. Read on for the gory details.
The sides of the beds are made of 2×6 cedar from Lowes. These boards are thicker than the cedar decking boards used in the original beds.
Also changed in the new is the corner posts. No more constructing my own 4×4 corner and in-line posts. This time around I purchased, again from Gardener’s Supply (yes they have been getting a lot of my money lately), come Raised Bed Corners. Now of course I couldn’t be ‘boring’ and buy the same hardware for both beds. I have to make it more interesting on purpose to give me something to write about. Good ol’ Gardener’s had a fantastic one day say where you could get 20% off anything. Well, those of you that know me know that I tend to take my time when making decisions. One day to decide to expand the garden AND figure out how I was going to do it AND order the right parts… well, it was pretty stressful and sure enough, I screwed up. One of the questions was, do I do another 12″ high bed or do I save some money and just do 6″? At the time, I decided to do 12″ and buy enough 6″ corners to do a double stack of 2×6 cedar boards. I was going to use these stakes in the corners to hold the top and bottom together. When the order arrives what do I find? Enough stakes for two beds but only enough corners for one. Crap. Looks like I will need to buy more brackets. However, after talking with a friend at work (thanks Dave), I decided to do something a bit different with the second bed. This time around I saved a little money and bought the 12″ corner brackets and slid two 2x6s into them. The brackets only had two holes which might have been enough to old the boards (one screw each) but I felt better drilling two more holes for each side to get two screws in each.
The beds went together very easily and I can’t imagine going through the amount of work I did on the original ones again. If these corner brackets hold up, and I have a good feeling they will, it will be worth the money and time-savings. The process couldn’t have been any easier and within just a handful of minutes I had the beds constructed and moved out the the garden.
This is where the work really began. Last time, I didn’t remove the sod before filling the beds with topsoil. While it was ‘okay’ last time, this time I wanted to do it better. So, out came the spade and we started digging. Again, I had some help. This time though, it was hired help. Removing the sod was pretty hard work. A few blisters and bruised hands and a good amount of sweat and time and the job was done. The ground on the east side of the east bed tends to slope away a bit so I bought some pavers to place under that end to prop it up and help hold in the soil.
Time to add the stuff that counts, topsoil. I had ordered 3 cu. yds of topsoil and used all but about 4-5 wheel barrow fulls. It took the better part of an afternoon to move all the spoil back to the new beds.