Backyard farm

Our Backyard Farm - Raised Beds

By Jamie Duncan 02 March 2020
Our Backyard Farm - Raised Beds

In 2018, we moved from a small farm outside Richmond, VA to the Raleigh suburbs. We’ve always like the idea of grown food. We also think it’s important that Elizabeth knows where food and life come from, and sometimes where it goes. We’re slowly turning our backyard into something that will help make food and teach our kid how all of this works. One of the first things we’ve done is to build a nice big raised bed to begin our vegetable garden.

Building the raised bed

To build the actual bed, I used a plan from Family Handyman. The only major change I made was in how the pieces are all fastened together. Insted of just attaching the pieces using toed in screws, I used Kreg pocket joints. I know it’s a little geek, but these joints are about as strong as you can get without making mortise-and-tenon style joinery. And I ain’t got time for that.

Empty completed raised bed

Our empty raised bed after a fall and winter to season.

I actually built this bed late last summer. But time got the better of us and it sat empty all winter. On the plus side, that means it’s nice and seasoned when I filled it this past weekend.

Filling the raised bed

Raised beds are all about control. You control the soil and temperature and moisture much more accurately because you’re building an almost closed system. One of the key steps to get that done is making sire your bed has adequate drainage.

Drainage gravel

In the bottom of the bed I used Quickcrete draining rock. I put 12 bags in the bottom of my bed, totaling 6 cubic feet.

Raised bed with drainage gravel

The raised bed with drainage gravel loaded in

I’m not nuts about this gravel or something. It’s just what Lowe’s had at 9am on Saturday morning and my local Lowe’s is nicer than my local Home Depot.

Picking dirt

I knew this was going to take a lot of dirt, so I decided to have some delivered. We’d seen our local Super Sod franchise at a home show last year promoting delivered giant bags of soil/compost. I decided to try it and I have to say I’m not disappointed. The Soil^3 Big Yellow Bag was delivered exactly where I asked full of soft, dark, clean soil ready to grow veggies in.

This dirt is truly gorgeous

This is some beautiful garden soil. Elizabeth agreed

After that it was time for wheelbarrows full of dirt. Lots. Of. Wheelbarrows.

Filling the raised bed

With the gravel in place it was time for the dirt. The Big Yellow Bag was at the end of my driveway, about 35 yards from the raised bed. The 12 bags of gravel took 4 trips. To get the dirt filled in it took about 16 or so (I lost count).

when I started to look for reasons to rest

In case you were wondering, this is about the time I started to look for reasons to stop in between loads for a minute or so and appreciate my backyard.

With all of those trips made and no major accidents, our garden bed is ready for seeds! This morning I sprayed it down to see how much it would settle. We’ll get the seeds going in a seed tray or directly in the bed in the next day or so. This year I think we’ll have

  • tomatoes
  • carrots
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • radishes
  • corn (not in the raised bed)
let's see what this thing will grow

We’re excited to see how well this bed will do with some basic garden vegetables.

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