Raised beds are great to have in a garden, but can be expensive to build. I am always looking for ways to cut cost on our farm and use what we have on hand.
With the clearing of the forested sections on our land, I have ample amounts of Hemlock to deal with. One can only buck and split enough firewood before their eyes glaze over. Using it to make low slung raised beds has been a good use for it, if it is in an area where the tractor can get to. Kirk chainsaws them into size needed, then drops them off for me using the tractor’s grapple. By then I can usually move the logs with my oldest son’s help.
The first step being to figure the location. This spot was an odd shelf of land, above the septic field, hedged in by a retaining wall, near our house. It’s not a great piece of land, and it isn’t big either. It has a trail off the side on the top, that goes up to the back of the house, which I needed to leave access to (it’s slightly overgrown right now with Salal, and the water tanks are hanging out there till we have time to put them in place).
After getting the area prepped a bit, we placed the logs. They are heavy enough I didn’t connect them at all. They are not going anywhere.
Then we added a thick layer of cardboard to smother the ground.
Once it was all ready, Kirk drove up 3 tractor buckets worth of a blend of 3 way soil and mushroom compost, that we packed in, and smoothed out.
The bed is housing 12 more of our heritage alpine strawberry plants, including a few of a new one I am growing, Tresca. I added in a bird bath, as there wasn’t any water sources for birds or pollinators close by. All were items I reused, so no extra cost. I am trying to be more conscious of water sources here, as we live in the Olympic Rainshadow and it is dry into October. Yet, I don’t want a pond because the deer are already a heavy presence here – and I don’t want raccoons. So locked up, and small water sources works well!
Add in wood chips, and fencing…and it’s done. I don’t dwell on making the beds “pretty” anymore. I just need them to work and life is good. And upcycling is about the easiest thing we can do here – and save a lot of cash!