Now that we’ve decided where to have the garden, what to plant, and how we want to do it, it’s time to get started! Many people say not to plant before Memorial Day in Wisconsin, and that’s probably a good rule of thumb, since we’re dipping back into the 50s this week. As sad as it is to have to wait EVEN longer, it does give us plenty of time to get our raised beds into the ground. Last weekend we got our wood and spent the afternoon putting the beds together. All in all, it took us about 3 hours. To start we gathered the material and tools. For two 4’x4′ beds, we needed:
- 16 – 4′ long x 8″ wide x 1″ thick cedar boards
- 8 – 18″ tall x 4″ x 4″ cedar timbers
- 32 – #7 x 2″ wood screws
- A drill with a 7/64″ bit
We chose to use cedar because it is incredibly sturdy, not treated with chemicals, and naturally weather resistant. It is a bit more expensive than other types of wood, but we’d rather not have to make new beds in five years. Most places you get lumber will be able to cut the boards for you if you ask, so if you don’t have a saw at home, or don’t have a vehicle to transport 8′ long boards, you don’t have to worry. Once you have your materials, set out 4 of the corner posts and four boards on a level surface. You will be constructing the beds upside down, so that bottom edge will become the top of your bed. This is definitely a two person job. One person will need to hold the boards together like Tim is above, with the end of one board butting up against the inside of the other board. The other person will then drill two pilot holes using the 7/64″ bit. Then, switch out the bit and use the drill to insert two screws into the pilot holes, starting with the bottom hole first. (Starting with the bottom hole will keep the very top of your beds flush and not effected by any bowing in the boards.) Tighten the screws until the top of the head is flush with the wood. (If Tim were really drilling in this picture, I would have been holding the boards tightly on the other side. But, in order to show that in a picture, we would have needed a third person!) Once your first layer of boards is secured, continue with the second layer in the same way. Be sure to alternate the way your corners overlap, to increase the stability of the beds. Flip those babies over and there you have it! Two, beautiful, new raised beds.
Eighteen inches may seem high, but the beds will be set into the ground, so that the finished height of the beds will be around 8″.
Once the rain stops over here, we’ll start digging the beds. Expect a very dirty Grow Your Own post next time!