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Raised bed Gardening
Though I don't eat nearly enough fruits or veggies, I've helped a couple of friends build raised bed gardens. It's been a lot of fun and very educational.   (I'll dig up some pictures if anyone is interested)

If you were thinking about doing this but didn't know where to start, I'll brain dump on some of my experiences

First, start with RESEARCH.  Meaning, what grows well in your  state/time of year/ and even the city. I live in Austin Tx and discovered that on the west side of the city the soil is different than on the east side of the city. So, certain things will grow well and certain things will not.  There are a million books and websites out there for this. I personally prefer books for this, because it's easier to read them when you're outside working than trying to look on a phone screen.  Besides, hard copy for end times and all....

We found this great book called 'Texas Organic Gardening' which broke down the state by region and worked though what things grew well and didn't.

Next, pick out some things that you actually enjoy eating. Maybe weigh this against things that are fairly expensive and/or that you eat often to make it financially more viable.

Next, take a look at your area where you want to put the garden. Watch it during the day. Do the trees or the house throw a shade over it for most of the day?  This can affect your garden's sunlight

Material sourcing:  Probably the hardest, but most important thing is the soil itself. We are lucky enough that we have several organic garden supply places around Austin, including one with a million types of dirt.  Go check them out before you get started. They probably have a garden specialist you can talk to. We chatted with 'Bob the hippy gardener' as I called him (it is Austin after all) and though he was a little far out there, he did have some GREAT experience and ideas.

The dirt place was an interesting adventure.  The way that this one worked was that they had huge piles of soil in a back lot. You bought 80 pound plastic bags and bagged your own dirt (they encouraged you to reuse them). Each bag was like $8 or something like that. They had some cool calculators of bags vs  cubic feet vs area of the garden. I got pretty damn good at estimating how many bags it would take to fill the gardens we were making.   The fun part was, I own a Honda CRV.. Its a 4cy.. At one point I had over 1000 pounds of dirt in bags in the back of the car.  Going uphill, yeah, that was an adventure.. and it was a good thing I had new shocks.

The actual bed construction, (after a couple of tries) became pretty easy.   2" x 12" from home depot with 3.5 deck screws.  We messed around with some 1" x 12" but even with angle irons, they couldn't support the weight of the soil even in a small box.    We  just used plain old pine ones and didn't bother to stain them or anything (the friend I was helping was very uptight about chemicals).  We laid down news paper underneath to keep the weeds down and then started dumping the bags in. We used the 'square foot gardening' technique, so we actually drew out a ruler along the side of the  2 x 12  with some small nails and had a string line going across to keep us on track of the spacing.   Follow the spacing directions in the books.. You don't understand how HUGE a head of broccoli or lettuce actually can get (like 18" across).

Depending on your bug situation, you will probably want to do a cage or screen over the top.  I think the best cage I did was a box made out of some garden wire, bend over on 4 sides that just sat snuggly over the top.   Squirrel netting is a HUGE pain in the arse. You have to make a frame and staple it, and it rips and things get caught in it. Big pain in the arse.   We made a wood frame out of 2 x 2 and covered in squirrel netting and it lasted for about 3 months before the beams twisted and warped and the netting was torn apart and basically worthless.

If I was doing it again, I would make the frame out of EMT conduit (so it doesn't warp or twist) and use chicken wire lashed to it with picture wire.

It was a lot of work, and I have nightmares sometimes about hand carrying 2 tons of dirt, 80 pounds at a time, but it was a good experience and taught me some interesting skills that may be handy one day. It's a shame that I'm not friends with that person any more so I didn't get to see what the end result is all these years later, but I'm glad that I worked on the project.

Another cool trick from the Hippy Garden guy was making large flower pots out of roofing tin.  So my friend wanted to plant blueberries... which are really hard to do and require to be planted in peat moss.  Large flower pots (I mean like 2ft in diameter) are really expensive (like $50 or more).  So, we bought this 20 foot roll of 2 foot high roll of galvanized sheet steel roofing material from home depot for like $20.  Cut into thirds and rolled into a circle, then screwed down with some sheet metal screws.  Cover the rim with duct tape (the edges are SUPER sharp) and sit it down ontop of some newspaper, and now you have a huge, indestructible pot for under $10.
How much room do you have,you can create organic soil.It's labor intensive but once you start it it's self fulfilling.Just recycle and re-install.'08.
If you look like food,you will be eaten.

I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.
If you've got photos I'd love to see them!  I'm all into gardening Smile

From a couple of years ago:

Day 1

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6 weeks later:

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Our weather has been awfully weird the last couple of months.  More rain in 23 days that we'd normally see in 6 months or more.  And now the heat index is over 100 degree each day (and we're still getting monsoon type weather).  The gardens are overgrown with weeds but I'm itching to get out there and get them ready for the fall harvest.
Governmental dependance makes for poor self reliance.

"What could possibly go wrong with a duct tape boat?"  Cody Lundin

The best defense against evil men are good men with violent skill sets.

Seems like a good idea. Haven't tried it but seems simple and effective.
Using pallets is a pretty cool idea.  In our garden, in addition to the raised beds and hydroponics, we're using an old laundry sink and a cast iron sink.  They work great!
Governmental dependance makes for poor self reliance.

"What could possibly go wrong with a duct tape boat?"  Cody Lundin

The best defense against evil men are good men with violent skill sets.
We garden with large raised beds. Ground is rocky with solid rock only 1-2 feet down. I trenches in a water line to my garden so I can water it all without picking up a hose. We rotate regularly and get some good yields. We can extras and make our own spaghetti sauce. I'd list what we plant but that would take awhile...suffice to say we plant some of nearly everything.
I did a couple of raised gardens in an urban backyard about 35 years ago. There was a day when I brought to the second grade class enough tomatoes for each kid to have five small ones and 3 large ones. With just feeding one and sometimes two people now, I raise only fruit trees. Always appreciated by the workmen/neighbors/merchants like the barber/dance instructor/relatives.

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