We decided with all the craziness going on that it was really important to get our raised bed garden in full swing this year.
I constructed 2’x3′ raised beds out of corrugated metal and 2x4s. Each raised bed cost about $43 to make, and will cost the average handy-person even less because I made several errors which resulted in me using half again the amount of wood originally required.
Cut and supply list for 7 raised beds:
2x4x19.5″ x 38 and rip 14 of those into 2x2s. (four 2x4s and four 2x2s per bed) 2x4x25″ x 14 – rip to 2x2s (four per bed) Inside corners 25″ X 14 (two per bed) Miters 45 degrees inside corners 36″ X 14 (two per bed) Corrugated metal *please note actual size is 26″ even if sold as 24″ Purchased six of the 24″x12′ and cut to fit the inside dimensions of each box. Assembled with #10 x 3 1/2″ coarse auger thread construction screws for the wood, and pan head sheet metal screws #8 x 1″ (went through 1+ boxes of 100)
We assembled the tops and bottoms first using a #10 3 1/2″ construction screw*, and then we cut the sheet metal to fit each box individually. After we cut the sheet metal, we pre-drilled the holes into the sheet metal. 4 holes for the side panels (2 top, 2 bottom), and 6 holes for the front and back panels (3 top, 3 bottom). Next, we used a 8×1 pan head sheet metal screw** to attach the sheet metal to the top and bottom frames of the bed. Once the sheet metal was attached to both the tops and bottoms of the boards, we secured the inside corners using a 2″x2″x25″ piece of wood on the inside corner and then a 19.5″ 2×4 on the outside corner spanning the joint for the boards on the top and the bottom for increased strength) and then a 19.5″ 2×2 on the other side of the corner for symmetry and additional strength on the corner.
The joint will end up looking like this. and here is a photo after we attach the mitered pieces to the top of the frame. You will want to trim those up so the corners meet up. You can also see the 2×2 on the inside corner in this image as well. The rocks on the ground are because that was how I marked out the layout of the garden on the ground.
Although it is still February, I am beginning garden prep.
A few locals urged me to start seeds a couple of weeks ago, but now I’m thinking they were jumping the gun. At this point I’m just going to run with it. I was going to take some gardening classes offered at an old school house down the road from us, but they lost their master gardener last year, so no classes. They were kind enough to send me the PDF files to get me started though, so I’m going to share those in this post, but be forewarned they are geared specifically to Colorado and the elevation in the county we are in… So probably 7000-9000+ feet in elevation. Keep that in mind while reading these.
So I purchased 2 grow lights, 2 seedling mats, garden tags & some seedling fertilizer from Amazon (links will be listed below along with the PDFs) I purchased some seed started greenhouses from tractor supply for $9, and I purchased my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
Right now I have a set of seedlings and have thinned out the plants, I’m waiting for the organic fertilizer to show up from amazon, and we’re currently planning the raised beds and placement for the garden. Since my compost heap is frozen solid, I’m going to try a variety of growing techniques this year from hay bales to creating soil using some of the decaying granite as they’ve specified in the pdfs.
As far as equipment goes, I’m happy with the grow lights and seed mats thus far. The Burpee seed starting sets we got have worked well, and I purchased the jiffy coconut fiber pellet plug refills to re-use those seed starters once I transplant my seedlings into solo cups and such. I will likely be doing that in the next week or two, but I need to do a little research to sort out when the best time is for transplanting those. I don’t have any feedback on the fertilizer yet, as it is still in the process of traveling to the ranch, and the tags are just blank tags that you write the plant names on. Nothing crazy. I hope someone out in Colorado finds this useful!
So I am beginning to think about my garden space for next year. I already know some information thanks to some wonderful locals who have shared info with me during our interactions at the library. I know that we have to use raised beds here, and that hoop houses are ideal for the region due to snow loads and wind. So I’m probably going to start building those raised beds soon and I’ve been working on getting compost up and running as well, though composting in the winter ought to be interesting. So now I’m looking at plants for our zone and researching what grows well at this altitude. We want some fruit trees, a vegetable garden, an herb garden, and I even just want some pretty flowers to enjoy. I am new to gardening. I had a garden plot once back home when I was like 20, but I didn’t really keep up with it as I should. It was also a 15 minute drive to get to my garden plot. I also suck with plants. House plants don’t do well with me. I either forget to water everything or I over water everything. So I’m thinking on incorporating some sort of irrigation into the beds. I’m not sure yet.
For now, I am looking up various plans for raised beds. I’m leaning towards using pallets since Uncle Dick brings stacks of them up periodically and we are on a super tight budget at the moment. Right now I’m leaning hard towards these plans.
Most likely I’ll stick to the second set of plans, but I’m sure I’ll make one of each and probably end up with a variety of designs to test our and see which I like best. OOH! I just found plans using logs. I may try at least one of those as well.
I’m also trying to decide how large of a garden do I want? Do we start super small our first year and add a section every year? These are all things that are turning over my head. Do I make the raised beds before I choose my plants or do I choose my plants and then plan my raised beds around what we’ll be growing?
I did find this handy guide for planting! So now I’m off to research some heirloom garden seed and see what I want to grow in 2019! (included a link to Mother Earth News best seed catalogs)
Any suggestions? Please comment! I will take any advice I can get!