Homesteading and Livestock

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Urban Homesteading: New Garden Beds

4/23/2009 2:50:43 PM

Tags: urban homesteading

raised bed stakes

Starting garden beds from scratch, as I am doing at my new digs, can be challenging – grass roots, clay soil and deep weed taproots all conspire to make the process time consuming and back breaking. Sure, you can rent a heavy-duty rototiller, but you still have to deal with the clods of grass roots and unyielding clay clumps. So, I decided to go the raised bed route – four 4-foot by 8-foot beds, each a foot deep.

You’re thinking – sure, but you still have to make the bed frames and haul yards of dirt. True, but I am using some wonderful raised bed corners, suggested by our garden writer, Barbara Pleasant, and available from Lee Valley Tools. What a marvelous invention these corners are. As you can see from the photo, the 2-by-6 lumber just slips into sleeves on the stakes. AND, you can add a second (or third) stake and sleeves to the top of the first one, to make the bed 12 inches (or more) high. It is suggested you strengthen the unit by putting a screw into each sleeve/board team, which we have done. This should help keep the boards from bowing outwards due to the pressure from the dirt.

Speaking of dirt – I would love to start planting this weekend, but have four plus cubic yards of the brown stuff to move from the driveway to the new beds. Soooooooooooo – it’s party time! We've invited a bunch of friends to a barbecue on Saturday – we’ll provide the food and we hope our guests will provide a bit of muscle power and help us to move the dirt!! I’ll let you know next week how successful this venture turns out to be.

I did mow the yard last weekend and used some of the lovely, aromatic clippings in the garden box where some garlic is happily growing. This week I’ll save the clippings to use as mulch in the new raised beds. We have had four neighbors ask about the beds and jokingly put in their order for fresh veggies this summer. I do hope to produce enough to share.

If you have had success with unique urban food production, share your experiences in the comments section below.

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5/1/2009 3:35:33 PM
Fancy corners are nice, but plain old metal angle brackets from the hardware store are a heck of a lot cheaper. You can get a pair of heavy-gauge 1" 90-degree brackets for under $5.00 - one of these corners will set you back about $16, plus shipping. If you're making new beds, make 'em deep. The extra effort (which will be considerable) will pay off in larger harvests, and you only have to dig them once if you put a few inches of well-aged compost on top once a year.

4/29/2009 12:29:51 PM
I think these pre-fab corners would also make it much easier to construct and install removable coldframes for your existing raised beds. We definitely need season extenders, and have been trying to figure a cost-effective and easy way to remove, install, secure and store coldframes every year. These corners may be just the answer!

Ben Fairfield
4/27/2009 12:57:21 PM
We just constructed (4) 4x4 beds and (2) 2x6 beds. We are really excited and anyone can follow the progress by visiting our website! We will be weighing every oz. that comes out of the garden this year to give everyone a real idea of what they can expect if they dive into gardening!

Ben Fairfield
4/27/2009 12:55:40 PM
We just constructed (4) 4x4 beds and (2) 2x6 beds. We are really excited and anyone can follow the progress by visiting our website! We will be weighing every oz. that comes out of the garden this year to give everyone a real idea of what they can expect if they dive into gardening!

4/24/2009 8:42:32 PM
I have a 20x22 square foot suburban garden (Cleveland Ohio area) with 8 variously sized raised beds and wooden walkways (which are wonderful when it is rainy and muddy out). We built the beds and walkways from a recycled wooden patio deck that a friend had torn down. I filled the beds with a combination of my home compost heap output (leaves, lawn, and kitchen) coupled with leaf hummus purchased from the city. I absolutely love it, and so do the vegetables. Besides the easier weeding, my garden yields have been astounding. Last year I was frantically giving away enormous amounts of vegetables. It particularly helps for root vegetables, as the soil in our area is heavy clay.

4/23/2009 8:00:21 PM
I had 11 raised beds (4x6) last year and have added five more this year. I absolutely LOVE them and would recommend them to anyone. Very little weeding is required and my yields have been fantastic!

4/23/2009 7:15:31 PM
I started a cold frame this spring and have radishes, onions and lettuce coming up. I am so anxious to try them. We also added a 4x24 raised bed in the back yard using an idea from a past issue of M.E.N. magazine and are having a difficult time trying to decide just what to plant. Since we bought into a CSA (community supported agriculture) for this year we will have plenty of veggies coming our way but still want to try our hand at a suburban garden.

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