Do you like the idea of a raised bed garden box with easy-working, fertile soil that’s much easier to keep weed-free? Is the idea of not having to bend down so much appealing? Do you like the idea of more time for other things? Give me low maintenance, please.
PS Ours are over 14 years now and still strong, attractive, and doing their job!
About 4′ x 8′ Raised Bed Boxes
4’x 8′ raised bed garden boxes are almost perfect for easy-care gardening.
In only 32 square feet, you can raise a highly productive garden. All you need is a little fore-thought.
I plant my raised bed boxes after the concept used by the intensive gardeners of Europe. French gardeners are masters at getting the most from a little in their potager or kitchen garden.
Often, it fills most of a small side yard; it is so tightly packed with various vegetables in various stages that one must do a balancing act to get in to tend.
Every spare space is used.
Most are so well cared for that you wonder if Monet was inspired by them!
Though old-fashioned gardeners plant mainly right in the ground, the intensive method is perfect for raised beds with not as much bending. It is also a very clean way to garden since you are not walking in soil or mud at all, depending on how you finish the walkways.
4-5″ Deep Stone Pathways
We used stone 4″ deep so the walks are almost totally weed free. They are set so the paths are 4 feet, 4″ wide for my wheelbarrow. The stone we used is locally called “Quarters”, but in other places it may have a different name. This site shows it well so you can have a picture to go by. It is the Delaware River Stone 1 1/4 inch.
You can create a very small garden or quite a large one by configuring the boxes to your needs and space. We did a grid of 9 boxes – 3 rows of 3 (with 4 foot, 4″wide aisles) and can grow a lot of food.
Also, I know families that are making full use of just one 4’x8′ box growing: 3 herbs, 2 tomato plants, 2 – 4′ rows of green beans, 1 row sweet peppers and 1 row each kale, green onions, spinach and lettuce.
Because of the tightly packed vegetables, the plant’s leaves canopy fast and the germination of weed seed is at a minimum.
Materials to Build One Raised Bed:
- 8 – (2″ by 8″) 8′ boards of treated ACQ, which stands for alkaline copper quat (a mix of copper and a quaternary ammonium compound) that protects against rot, decay and termite attack. It is (arsenic free) lumber. Two of the 8′ boards will be cut into 4′ lengths for the ends as in top photo.
- 4 – 2″ by 4″ boards for leveling stakes, 22-24″ long. They will anchor the box, so drive them in once the box is where you want it and screw to these stakes.
- 3″- long exterior screws. (Galvanized is best, but we couldn’t find them.) ‘Exterior’ so they won’t rust. Screw the box together and screw to the leveling stakes so it won’t shift when filling.
An alternate (very permanent) idea would be metal troughs or elongated metal feed containers like livestock farmers use. You will need to drill holes in the bottom so rain water won’t pool.
Perfect Soil Mixture Recipe
- 1/3 vermiculite (or perlite).
- 1/3 the best weed-free soil or seasoned compost you can find
- 1/3 peat moss.
We dumped the bags into each raised bed in thirds and ‘stirred’ with shovels. We made play of the work, and once it was done, we had a productive garden!
You can get peat moss and vermiculite at many of the garden centers (Lowe’s, Menard’s, Home Depot, etc.) or your local nursery may order it for you. You’ll find big bags of vermiculite at Menard’s in the insulation aisle (4 cu yd for around $12.00).
For the total amount to add to the raised bed garden box, you can use calculations found here.
The average French gardener would be incredulous at the ‘recommended’ spacing used by the American gardener. Due to space limitations in many areas in Europe, over the centuries they have learned ways to maximize production, allowing creativity and a free spirit to flow into their potager.
I got a lot of my ideas from Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space. It opened my mind to think out of the box, and I’ve been gardening like this ever since.
By inter-planting (having another plant ready to stick into the ground the moment that one is harvested) you keep the space filled. You can tuck in onion sets (save some back from your spring planting) and have more green onion tops coming in early fall.
Also, succession planting is practiced. In reading about this years ago, I have learned that once my early crops of cool weather plants (beets, cabbage, spinach, lettuces, turnips, and early onions) are harvested, I can them plant the lovers of hot weather and use the same space twice! Sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, another cabbage or two…
With good planning and management, it would not be impossible for 4 – 4’x8′ raised bed garden boxes to produce enough for a family of four coming ready at different intervals.
And as you harvest (or thin) your hot weather crops, you might be able to squeeze in the seed or seedlings for a cool weather crop repeat.
In this way gardening is not boring, but can be a satisfying creative adventure.
Back To Eden & Composting
The secret in a raised bed or a garden in the ground is composting. If you haven’t seen the Back To Eden Movie, you are missing something very special that will revolutionize the way you think about gardening!
Are you planning a garden? Have you thought about raised beds?
How To Start A Sustainable Garden
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Having trouble finding vermiculite? We were! The small bags that are sold in garden sections are costly. Instead, check with the home insulation section in any franchised hardware store. That’s where my husband found the agricultural product in large 3 or 4 cubic feet bags for $12!
Oh, this is so neat! I love your blog—found it off of the Happy Summer Giveaway–and I think I’ll have to bookmark it and come back. This post is wonderful, as I have been thinking that raised beds would be a great way to garden! 😀 Less weeds, the better I like it!
I appreciate your wonderful giveaway, by the way. I love those mirrors. 😉
What a beautiful garden. I love the idea of these type of gardens. I plan to do more of it next year. Thanks.
This is my first time here. I found your web through your comment on “Live Renewed”, which was my first time there! I am very much enjoying your two posts (so far), and plan to return. Thanks so much! Shirley
Just a great post! I am planning my September winter garden (I live in Florida) and I want to build some raised gardens. I have been looking for a building list. Such a nice blog!!!
Thank you, Georgia, for your kind words. I have always wondered about how gardens in Florida fare during the winter. Since the weather is so much more mild, it must be a very nice climate for veggies and fruit. Do you get enough rain? Does the hurricane season help in that regard?
I would love to know how the raised beds work out for you.
Yourhis blog is a gold mine to us starting out. I will try these tips and let you know how they work out! Thanks again.
How do you keep the critters away from your potatoes? Something ate my plants last year after they were growing so beautifully. Fortunately I did find some potatoes at the end of the season.
Liz, we have a fence (and gates) with the graduated chicken wire stapled to it. It does help a bunch! Glad you found those potatoes 🙂
Perfect timing as I plan to build a few of these this spring. You and your readers may find this very interesting as well. I learned from someone the other day to line the inside with tin to keep the soil from the wood and rotting it.
When using electroculture there is no need for the use of pesticides, manure, or fertilizers. This is primarily why this information was suppressed. All you need is the sun, the clouds, the rain, the nitrogen in the air, and the ability to harness atmospheric energy. These atmospheric antennas can be created from materials such as wood, copper, zinc, and brass. When adding these atmospheric antennas to your garden, soil, or farm they will amplify your yields, combat frost and excessive heat, reduce irrigation, reduce pests, and increase the magnetism of your soil leading to more nutrients in the long run.
Gary, thank you for this!! I will look into it! ~J