Can Do with Su – Raised Garden Bed Instructions
Su is the mastermind behind all of the building projects at Dungeness Barn House. She applies her talents and skills from working at Habitat for Humanity and her own construction business to create original designs.
When asked “What do you like about building?” Su’s philosophy of designing and building is to create something out of someone’s idea but that they didn’t know how to make – and “…make it happen. It makes me happy to see them happy with the final result.”
Which is a good thing because Clare is always thinking up new challenges for Su!
Clare wanted raised beds to be designed so that she could “… still garden at 80.” Waist high, and made of materials that will weather well over time, with a deep base to allow for the roots to grow. Bales of straw at the bottom provide organic matter that decomposes into a rich mulch and holds moisture. The beds are drip irrigated because as Su puts it: “I didn’t want want to spend all day watering the garden.” Whatever your age – making gardening easier and being able to easily access the plants (and weeds!) can make the difference between a garden that is maintained over time, versus one that gets neglected because it’s not “user friendly.”
The raised beds are planted with a wide variety of vegetables – from potatoes to lettuces, spinach and heirloom-variety tomatoes. Guests are fed from the garden and from local farms from whatever is in season. The Dungeness Barn House chickens supply the eggs!
Late summer and early fall is the height of the growing season in the Dungeness. Hardy crops: potatoes, garlic, spinach and kales can be harvested even into the early winter months.
Peas and cucumbers are trellised from four corners of two of the larger beds.
Sequim is a cool-weather growing climate – and because the Dungeness Barn House is located on a high bluff waterfront, there are additional challenges of wind and salt air. The gardens are sheltered behind the buildings, where it’s warm enough for roses to bloom in a mild winter.
This design is flexible; make one, see how it goes and add on.
Dungeness Barn House Bed and Breakfast at Two Crows Farm
Raised Garden Beds
So my beautiful and wonderful partner/wife, Clare, decided she wants to be able to garden when she’s 80…and figures since she won’t be able to get on her hands and knees any longer, (or most likely won’t be able to get up if she did get down there), she asked me to make these raised beds for her. Now, she can garden (and possibly with her walker later in life) standing upright and the boxes make it easy. So I’ve tried to put together what I did and some of the tips I found while making them for her. I love her creative energy. She’s always got something new for me to try and make.
Materials needed for one 3 x 5 box:
8 – pressure treated 2 x 4 x 8 (base structure)
2 – doug fir 1 x 2 x 8 (trim boards)
2 – corrugated metal (patina or rusty if you like) approx. 27” x 16’ long
2 – bales + 2 flakes (straw per box)
3” screws (make sure for use in pressure treated material or they will rust)
1” screws for metal corrugated roofing (small rubber washer attached)
6 p nails 1 1/2” long
Landscape fabric (under the boxes and over the straw)
1 yard (approx.) (Organic) Soil
4 – 2 x 4 x 57” pressure treated lumber
4 – 2 x 4 x 36” pressure treated lumber
8 – 2 x 4 x 21” pressure treated lumber
2 – 1 x 2 x 32 3/4” doug fir
2 – 1 x 2 x 55 1/4” doug fir
2 – 27” x 56 3/4” corrugated metal
2 – 27” x 31 1/4” corrugated metal
Take 1 – 2 x 4 x 57” pressure treated lumber and attach to the inside end of 1 – 2 x 4 x 36” pressure treated lumber with the screws. This forms and “L” shape. You will repeat this step 3 more times. Once you have 4 “L” shapes you will connect 2 of them together to form a box (  ). Repeat with the remaining 2 “L” shapes. Now you have 2 boxes.
Take 2 – 2 x 4 x 21” pressure treated lumber and screw them together for the side corners (long side to long side of the lumber). Repeat 3 more times. You now have all the side corner pieces ready to install on the boxes.
Toe nail the side corners to the boxes with the 3” screws. (I placed the side corner cuts opposite of the way the cuts were for the boxes so it would be stronger and it helped for screwing on the metal later.) (I also found it was easiest to screw on one side at a time to the bottom all four corners and then flip the entire unit onto the top (which is now laying on the bottom) and then screw it into place.) (It forms a 3 D box). After all the corner sides are screwed on the box, it should be pretty sound and you are ready for the metal.
Install the long metal on the long sides first with the metal screws. Then attach the smaller sides with the metal screws. (again, I found it easiest to place the boxes on their sides so I wasn’t crawling inside to try and attach the metal to the lumber) (learned that the hard way, ha!) Once all sides are attached place the box upright and you are ready to install the trim.
Since the metal sticks out a bit and can be very sharp, I used the 1 x 2 to hold it in place and protect the edge. Using clamps to hold the 1 x 2 and the metal close to the 2 x 4, nail the 1 x 2 to the 2 x 4 holding the metal in-between. (I used my pneumatic nailer for this, you could also use screws if you don’t have a nailer, although you might need to pre-drill so the wood doesn’t split) Either way, once this step is completed all the way around the top of the box you are ready to install the straw.
Take landscape fabric and place where you are going to be putting your boxes. I use 20 p nails 4” long and fender washers to hold down my fabric as we have a lot of rocks and harder soils. Once that is down and you’ve placed your box where you want it take 2 bales of straw and place side by side inside the box. You will find that there is a gap at the end or they look short and they are, that’s where the 2 flakes of another bale will fill in. Then cut some of the landscape fabric to cover the top of the straw to prevent it from sprouting up into your box. You’re now ready for soil.
It will take not quite a yard of soil per box giving you about 8” – 10” of planting depth. As the straw decomposes, you can fill the space with more soil, compost, manure etc. Thus, reviving the soil each year. You are now ready to plant.
Have fun and enjoy!
On a separate note, I installed a drip watering system on a timer so I’m not spending hours (although I’d like to sometimes) watering the garden. So far, it’s worked out great.
Any questions you can reach me on my cell at 360-821-9294 or leave a message. I’ll get back to you.