Monday, June 16, 2008

Raised bed frame arrived today!

The cedar raised bed frame arrived today! We assembled and added growing mix. Hooray!

The materials are laid out and waiting: 2 bags peat, 10 bags cotton burr compost, 1 bag of vermiculite, garden weed shield cloth, and raised bed frame in boxes.

First I cut two pieces of weed shield cloth, 10' long. The width of the cloth is about 3'. I overlapped the cloth several inches in the middle and laid two boards on either end to keep the cloth from blowing up in the breeze while we plotted out the assembly of the frame.

Next, we stacked the boards around the cloth in the places where they would be added to the frame. Remember, I bought the economy boards so we sorted them and arranged them for best appearance, placing blemishes toward the inside of the bed.

My faithful garden helpers, Max and Michelle were right there with us!

My husband Brian was a great help! He brings brains and brawn to the work effort!

Note the steel rods inserted in holes at each of the four corners and middle which are used to secure the frame. These will be hammered down with a rubber mallet once we have all the boards in place. The great thing about a Natural Yards frame is that you the only tool you need is something to hammer the rods down and many people simply use a big rock to do that.

The frame is constructed four 5-1/2' layers high. There are two aluminum support beams placed on top of layer one and the other on top of layer three. These keep the middle of the frame from shifting.

We layered the growing medium ingredients in the frame. I started with five bags of cotton burr compost then one bag of peat and mixed those two ingredients together. Next I added 1/2 of the vermiculite. Sort of like mixing the dry ingredients for a cake, I stirred this with a hoe until well mixed and then repeated with the rest of the ingredients.

After all the "stuff" was added, you can see that the soil-less mix is about two boards shy of the top of the frame. I do need to leave some space for the displacement that will be caused by the plants and also room to add mulch, however, it seems a bit short.

The height of the frame will definitely keep the dogs out, and will be more cost effective and space efficient than putting a fence around the garden, but may be overkill. I am considering removing the top layer and creating a 4' x 4' bed. I have enough boards to build it two layers high so I would probably order a single-layer 4' x 4' bed and request steel rods long enough for a 16" high bed.

Since all the boards for my current bed are 4' long, next year I may re-assemble the bed into two 4' x4' beds. Then I would have 3 beds of that size which would be a nice configuration.

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