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FREE Natural Raised Beds

 
Posts: 120
Location: 10 miles NW of Helena Montana
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steve bossie;
I have had them last 4 - 5 years, then some of the slats might start to rot, but if you use the hardwood pallets they will last.
It is easy to just replace a slat or two if they show rot.
 
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It is no till after the first tilling & will stay soft, seed friendly for years.
I plant all my perennials in the same type of bed, my longest bed is 75 feet, used for white potatoes.
I add compost every year.
 
pollinator
Posts: 127
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
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This would be a good video to put here as well:



When I'm checking Wikipedia about 'lazy beds', what I think this topic comes down to, or at least the opening post, then I'm seeing mentioned it was used in Britain as a traditional method of agricultural cultivation. That surprises me; I thought this was the classic standard everywhere, not just in Britain. Anyway, all around where I live allotments still look like this. Even professional businesses with open air sites are still using it. It's only from travelling and things like this forum that I've come to realise that quite a few people are using timber constructions nowadays, or at least I'm thinking this is something new. It's certainly not something that I see being applied in the region where I live.
Anyway, check out the video, it shows a lot of different things you can run in to when making a garden bed from scratch, and that guy does know what he's talking about.
 
Posts: 47
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan, zone 5B
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fungi trees
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I make raised beds with normal sides because I have to. I have sticky, yellow clay full of rocks and digging just isn't possible. My ground doesn't perk. Well, it does where I have been improving it for several years. The worms have done all the tilling. My raised beds are the ugliest of all but ever so practical. I can make one in 30 seconds. Before I tell you what I do now, in the beginning I bought cedar wood and built them to the tune of $35 per 3 X 3 feet. They say cedar will last 40 years so I figured the cost was worth it. I won't have to make new ones until I'm 100 years old. I want a smaller 3 foot wide bed so I can reach across from one side. I want to grow lots more garlic on a more commercial scale so I need a lot more raised beds.

So lately I've been using kiddie pools. They are three feet across, which is perfect. It takes me 30 seconds to cut out the bottom. Voila! Instant raised bed. I bed my goats with sawdust and I fill these kiddie pools right up with pure nanny berries. This time of year is perfect to be setting them up because the manure has all winter and half the summer to break down. I did this last year and all that manure became worm castings. Beautiful black dirt. Yes, every single raised bed became a worm bin. All the worms were free range. "if you build it, they will come." I use sawdust for paths. The sawdust is free for the taking. There are no weeds at all in the paths. The sawdust goes snug against all the sides of the round shape.  I place them a foot apart so I can easily walk between each one and I space the rows of beds three feet apart. They go directly on closely mowed grass/weeds, wherever I am going to improve another area and start another garden. You can't put them out ahead of time because they will blow away! From five goats I get enough nanny berries and sawdust mixture to fill one kiddie pool per day. I wait until the end of the season, then load up on kiddie pools when they are on sale. I got the last load for $2 each from the dollar store. They are normally $8.

I also cut the bottoms out of 10" pots I get from the grocery store. Flowers come in them and they are free. This is a miniature, instant raised bed good for one tomato plant or one pepper or any plant that will drown in my super wet clay soil in this particular area I'd like to improve. This past spring nobody in my neighborhood could get on their garden to till. It was way too wet; it rained continually. That didn't stop me. I got my plants transplanted into these 10 inch pots and set them directly on the one inch of water covering the whole area. By the time the roots reached the bottom of the pot, it was June and dry enough so the plant didn't drown. The pot became the mulch, holding in all moisture below it, and I didn't have to water at all because the roots went right into the clay beneath. Clay can be good. I can plant in this area, which had been useless to me until now. It is being improved with grass mulch, which I have plenty of.
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Kiddie pool raised beds and 10 inch pot raised beds with Goji berry bushes in them
Kiddie pool raised beds and 10 inch pot raised beds with Goji berry bushes in them
 
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Marilyn Paris wrote:I make raised beds with normal sides because I have to. I have sticky, yellow clay full of rocks and digging just isn't possible. My ground doesn't perk. Well, it does where I have been improving it for several years. The worms have done all the tilling. My raised beds are the ugliest of all but ever so practical. I can make one in 30 seconds. Before I tell you what I do now, in the beginning I bought cedar wood and built them to the tune of $35 per 3 X 3 feet. They say cedar will last 40 years so I figured the cost was worth it. I won't have to make new ones until I'm 100 years old. I want a smaller 3 foot wide bed so I can reach across from one side. I want to grow lots more garlic on a more commercial scale so I need a lot more raised beds.

<... snip ...>



Very novel approach. I use kiddie pools Larry Hall style. Much of the garden year here in Texas is dry so retaining moisture is my big problem.
 
pollinator
Posts: 117
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"Question about the logs/big branches in the garden: do you just leave them on the surface? I like using them for borders in the garden, but I was worried they may wick out moisture in the warmer months. "

My landlady and I bordered some beds with driftwood (logish and half rotten) and it seems to be great in drought season.  It was just placed in a rectangle to keep the amendments on the soil as opposed to spilling out around the yard.  The bed itself was a bit dug down for summer moisture a bit piled up for spring/fall drainage.  

My most favorite bed has a rock border on the sunny side and wood on the back/shady side.  the rock is piled up for creepy crawlies to live in and interplanted with perennials.  the wood side grows mushrooms.  

Next time I build one I will make sure my perennials are all low growing herbs for ease of access and the back border logs will be deliberately seeded mushroom logs.
 
pollinator
Posts: 486
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
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Wow! Kiddie pools. That would work pretty well in my sandbox too. I would be tempted to plant a tree in the center of each: That should keep the weeds at bay and make purposeful watering easier. I might bury them a little deeper here, though: The plastic that sticks out is likely to deteriorate and crack withing a couple of seasons.
like the idea of the growing guilds in orchards but I don't want to have tall plants that will make it harder to manage the trees/ clean around them. With a kiddie pool, I could grow serious garlic that is so touchy if you have weeds. Putting clean soil/ chicken litter in the kiddie pools should improve the soil, concentrate the irrigation water/ nutrients.
I have a wild cherry tree that I want to pollard. This might be a good candidate for the treatment. I intend to train the new branches to weep by hanging some light weights on the new branches. This way, the fruit should be more reachable...
I will have to scour the town for small $2 pools...
 
Posts: 87
Location: Near Libby, MT
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dog
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Lif Strand wrote:I like this idea very much!  I'm wondering what you and others do to prevent gophers and other underground critters from coming in from the bottom and rabbits and other above-ground critters from coming in from the top?



Ground squirrels have been my gardening nightmare. Waist high raised beds surrounded with metal sheeting have helped. I grow my tomatoes in stacks of tires, also surrounded with metal sheeting which does run into some money. Even at that I once discovered pack rats had stolen entire branches of my tomato plants and carried them quite a ways to their nests.

My best, and cheapest, raised beds are salvaged bath tubs set up on cement blocks. Even the rabbits don't seem to get over the tub lip. Cement blocks are chesp, and tubs are sometimes free.
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Dennis Barrow
Posts: 120
Location: 10 miles NW of Helena Montana
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roberta mccanse  Glad you kept at it.  To many people these days would have quit.
I just relocated from Columbia Falls to NW of Helena.  I will be interesting to see what varmits I have to deal with.  I know  I will have a fine wire mesh at the bottoms of my raised beds to keep the voles out.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 486
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
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Surrounding beds is not very cheap, so you have to weigh the cost versus the duration. I thought for a long time that using treated wood is not good because the stuff leaches in the ground. It is still not great, but now:"On February 12, 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a voluntary decision by the pressure-treated wood industry to phase out use of the common arsenic-based wood preservative chromated copper arsenate (CCA) in products destined for consumer markets".
In other words, the treated wood now for sale is not as toxic as it once was. Here is an interesting article on that topic:
https://www.buildinggreen.com/feature/treated-wood-transition-less-toxic-options-preserved-and-protected-wood
New alternatives are coming up each day. When considering purchasing, you just need to ASK.
If you have carpenter ants drilling in your wood, I'd like to suggest Borax. I use it under my hives to keep ants at bay or they will climb in the hive and help themselves to honey! A cup or two of Borax in a 2 gallon pail of water seems to work wonders. [Once or twice a year is enough]
I would like to be able to afford the resin wood, which is very long lasting, being essentially plastic. That is a kinda "forever" solution. Rosin wood, besides being quite expensive does not have the structural strength to resist the bowing out under lateral pressure: You still have to put a number of pickets to old the boards on the outside to contain the earth.
Since I have to keep the dirt in because my soil is still so sandy, I am using the newfangled treated wood.
Beyond that, there are some things that can be done to makes sure it lasts. Using a wider/ taller board, not keeping the ground soaked, having soaker hoses instead of broad overhead watering, more mulch will all go a long ways in keeping it ship shape longer.
Another thing I do is "unearth" the bed every couple of years: It takes only a couple of minutes per bed. To keep the garden halfway 'clean' I use abundant much in the alleys. Not only does it save me some hoeing time, I treat it really like another composting bed: Sawdust, straw, non-weed components are regularly placed there to rot. In a couple of years, the earth within is almost as high as the earth outside of the bed. I use a crowbar and a brick and start from the corner and lift the bed, pushing some fresh mulch under with my foot, then letting the bed back down. The alleys are now filled with rotted/ rotting mulch which I turn in the bed and I add some fresh non-rotted much in the alleys.
Voilà. And there is always the occasional "find":
The electric crew was changing the creosote poles along my road. I asked them if I could get them: they were more than happy not to have to put them in the dump [which would greatly increase the toxicity at that site because it would be a lot more concentrated]. These old poles have had a lot of the creosote leached out in the ditch already, but above ground, there is still a lot of good wood. These logs can be fashioned in structures: Arbors, trellises, beds of non-consumables. They are extremely sturdy and long lasting. I'll have to remove the metal from it but I'm looking forward to doing something with them.
 
Posts: 11
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
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I did this three years ago, after tearing apart a large hugelkultur bed that had become home to rats.  The pictures attached do not really show the height of the soil compared to the walkways, but it has turned out really well.  I fill the paths with leaves, sawdust, hay, deadheads, and have access to block plantings.  I have beds for alkaline-loving veggies, and all the berries are established in their own beds where more acidic soil exists.  I used to rototill most of the 35x50 garden, but now turn the beds, which do not get compressed by footprints, with a shovel.  I like that, except for the raspberries, blueberries, and currants, I can rotate crops, companion plant to deter pests, and run drip lines as I design the space in spring.  
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gardener
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Here's how I defend my raised beds from varmints:
maggie-the-ferocious-and-cozy.jpg
Maggie, the ferocious and cozy
Maggie, the ferocious and cozy
 
Posts: 64
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I'll post my solution to free borders for raised beds:

https://youtu.be/K3tCkRH2B1s
 
Dennis Barrow
Posts: 120
Location: 10 miles NW of Helena Montana
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steve bossie wrote:

how long do they usually last for you? TSC near me said i can have all i want. i too have back issues.

Will last a few years but nice thing is you can replace the boards easily if they need it.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 486
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
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Chris rain wrote:I'll post my solution to free borders for raised beds:

https://youtu.be/K3tCkRH2B1s



It looks great, and no more wood rotting since essentially, it is made of cement/ concrete. I like the weeping holes that allow you to have a look at just how moist the bed  really is. I suspect that is pretty much to rich for my blood, but hey, if I had free/ nearly free concrete blocks, [and an arthritis-proof back] I'd love to make myself a couple of these.
 
Chris rain
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They are nice to sit on too. Plenty of sitting space all around to sit and harvest lettuce.  
Sometimes, I wonder if the next person that lives here, if we ever move, will appreciate these as much as I do!
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 486
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
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Chris rain wrote:They are nice to sit on too. Plenty of sitting space all around to sit and harvest lettuce.  
Sometimes, I wonder if the next person that lives here, if we ever move, will appreciate these as much as I do!



As I age, these raised beds become much more user friendly: I sometimes place a short piece of 2"X 11.5" X whatever the width of the path as a movable seat. The seat goes over the path and I can sit between the 2 beds. I can weed and plant from a sitting position. It sure saves on my back.
I have found also at the Garden expo in Madison a guy who sells a circular platform/lid that rolls over the edge of a homer bucket [so you can sit and pivot easily]. It is handy because I can put my seeds and some hand tools in the bucket and hand carry all over. If I get interrupted by the rain, I just leave the tools, seeds and homer bucket [covered, of course] walk away and nothing gets wet.
It is really handy
 
Joe Grand
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I do not need raised bed, I have sandy loam soil with good drainage & lots of space. So I could grow the same way my Grandfather & father grew crops, but I read M.O.N. & O.G.M. therefore I had to have double dug raised beds.
Double dug raised beds was the thing 30 years ago, now it is cardboard & compost on a notill yard lawn. I think the main reason I still use natural raised bed is it puts order to the annual garden & is great for long lasting perenial gardens.
I would say it is less important what kind of raised bed garden you have & more important that you have a garden. Fortyseven years ago a farmer son had to do what everyone else was going unless he found a Oranic Garden Magazine.
Today all you need is a way to the county library & you can travel around the world, looking at every kind of gardening for the last 1000 years. Today is a great time to garden.
 
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