Garden beds can be a pricey thing to build, but if you are willing to have a rustic look, you can do the framework for free. This project took a verrrryyyy long time to get done. Mostly because no one wanted to work in the hot sun all summer, and clearing the dead trees in the forested sections took precedent.
So back in the Spring, Kirk tilled the start of the design with our BCS tractor. At the time I had no idea yet where it was going to go, but I knew we needed to break the ground open before it got dry and hard. Then…it sat.
In August, as the forest fires choked the air, Kirk got on the Kubota tractor and smoothed out the land he had tilled.
With the bed now ready to use, and knowing I needed to get it done so I could plant garlic in Fall, I got busy. Using downed trees (the free part) we started piecing together a frame for the bed. The bed was cut to be 35 feet long and 15 feet wide.
The shape of the bed takes place in late August. Cardboard was being put down as well, to smother weeds.
Once I had a general frame we started laying down chipped wood, of which we have plenty of (to the point we have been giving away truck loads to people who do Back To Eden gardening). The wood chips give a walk area that will control weeds and mud – and dust in the dry seasons. It also supports the bed frame.
I ended up extending the wood chip area so we’d have a walk area on the outside as well. The raised bed frame was in most areas 2 trees high for reference.
We filled the bed with a blend of a 3-way soil mix and mushroom compost, well packed in. We kept the sides open so we could bring the tractor in to dump the soil in. Made it quick to do.
Many more U Posts added in and the deer fencing put up, along with a bird bath, and a couple of bamboo trellis I had sitting around. For extra strength, we put more downed logs around the outside, on top of the extra fencing. Did I mention how many dead alders we have had to take down? Well….at least they are going to good use!
And because I am frugal whenever I can be, I used a couple of wood pallets on the front. Why? Because it gives me a place to set things, and hang items, outside of the cage. It also helps strengthen that area of the fence. We made agate of hardware cloth tied to a pole, so it can be opened and closed. Maybe not super scenic, but it works…and didn’t cost anything, as it was all repurposed.
Side view. By enclosing the wood chip area I have a work space and an area to keep large plants inside.
The picnic table and bench were free – not good enough for using to sit on, but great as a work area. I have a sunny area to hold pots that don’t need to be in the greenhouse, but need to be away from the deer.
The extra strawberry plants I started in late summer will spend fall and winter here.
As for the area around it? Our next project is to finish digging out the land next to the bed for the greenhouse foundation. Then the greenhouse will be moved there. Once it is done, I plan on developing another large bed on the other side. I haven’t decided what to put into it, but with the rain season returning we can start digging and tilling again.