Friday, February 11, 2011

Elevated Raised Beds for Vegetable Garden

A recent question from "the audience" centered on providing links and information/specifications for building elevated beds for the backyard vegetable garden.   The person also mentioned that he would like to plant beans, greens,  and other vegetables for personal use in beds that are mounted on 4 X 4 posts buried in the ground.  He also wanted suggestions for depth of the bed and materials to build the bed (treated versus cedar, etc.).

Here was my response:  Elevated raised beds can be difficult because of the weight of wet soil  but they are not impossible.  An example can be found at : 

http://www.gardeners.com/Elevated-Cedar-Raised-Bed/NewPotsandPlanters_Cat,39-388,default,cp.html

 
Beans and greens may not grow at the same time of year in Florida.  Beans are warm season vegetables (March - June) and greens are typically cool season Vegetables (October - January).  The Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide (see Resources in the right hand column) that should help you understand the gardening seasons in Central Florida.
 
Cedar is expensive and somewhat rot resistant.  Treated pine is economical and since 2002, the lumber industry no longer uses arsenic to treat pine so I do recommend you consider it.  Do not use old treated lumber or railroad ties. 
 
If you decide to build you own, at least 8" of soil is necessary to grow quality vegetables in Florida.  The bottom should be 3/4 treated plywood.  The bed should not be wider that 4' if you intend to walk around it or no wider that 2' if you intend to garden from one side.  2x6 treated pine for legs to elevate the bed will be necessary.  Use deck screws for securing the sides and bottom.  Ensure you have at least one 1/4" drainage hole every square foot and cover the drainage holes with fiber glass screening material to prevent the soil from clogging the holes. 
 
Place your raised bed garden in an area that will receive at least six hours of sun.