This year in the garden I wanted to try incorporating some raised beds. I have wanted to for a few years now but never got around to it due to time and financial shortages, but this season, I really wanted to get at least two built and put into production.
After some research I decided to use untreated cedar in that cedar is resistant to rot and I did not want any chemicals on wood that might leach into the soil and therefore into the food I was growing.
I found a source for cedar boards on craigslist and for a fraction of what it would cost in the home improvement stores, I was about to acquire 45 8'x6' reclaimed cedar boards. We cut the ends to 4' so i would not have to step into the beds to plant and weed as to not compress the soil, but we left the length at 8'. i also decided to go two boards high since they were only 6" and I wanted to have good, sturdy beds that could hold a lot of soil.
We made each level separately using "L" brackets and outdoor screws to attach the boards together at the corners, on the insides. Then we applied a layer of waterproof caulk to the connecting edge of the two frames. I know this is not the most chemical-free way, but I did not water and soil coming out of the sides. Even though these boards are nice and mostly straight, they are reclaimed so there is a little damage to them which makes some parts not lay tightly.
We placed the beds by the garden shed where they will get plenty of sunlight but they will also get some shade in the early morning and late afternoon. I wanted to be able to protect what I was growing in the beds since I am sure the deer would much rather not have to bend their necks so far down to get a good head of lettuce.
Next I cut the tubing to a length of 8' and placed each end in a section of PVC. It holds it very nicely, it is secure and the tubing will not pop out since it is push down to the bottom of the PVC, where it meets the grass.
I am planning on placing poultry netting over the hoops and securing it with zip ties and clothes pins to keep out unwanted dinner guests. With the clothes pin, I can easily remove the netting to work in the garden space.
I can also use the beds as a hoop house for starting plants outside a little earlier and keeping things going a little later by replacing the poultry netting with some white plastic.
I have ordered a load of soil to be delivered shortly to fill the beds, which I will then enrich with some organic fertilizer. I am not planning on removing the grass before i put the dirt in because I feel that the dirt will more than take care of the grass, and it is a time saver. i have been debating putting a layer of black plastic down first, with holes for drainage, and maybe a layer of pea stone to aid in drainage, but i am still on the fence with this idea.
I am open to suggestion as to if I should just fill it in or use the plastic and gravel first. Any ideas?