New Raised Garden Beds

When you live out on the prairie in Colorado, you have to be able to plant like you are in the desert. The goal is to increase the moisture retention in the soil. We have a lot of sand out here – a LOT of sand. Sand not only is nutrient poor but also is well draining. To mitigate that you need to add organic matter.

Poorly built raised beds.

When I moved in, I loved the raised garden beds that were on the property. After a couple of years, I noticed that the soil was horribly depleted of nutrients and that the beds were starting to warp. When you build large raised garden beds (10ft x 4 ft) that are 2.5 ft tall then you need to sink support posts into the ground so that they do not bow out from the weight of the soil. Guess what? They started to bow out. Also, these were not all wooden beds. They were metal framed beds – so the structure was even weaker. They were great if you have a bad back – you wouldn’t have to bend over, but they were not long lasting.

Choosing When to Repurpose and When to Repurpose for Something Completely Different

All the metal in the garden beds are in good shape, but none of the wood is reusable. I spent one year cutting the wood down and piecing a couple temporary garden beds in place. It worked for a season – not worth the effort. The wood was so warped that the longest run I could get was 2 ft and after a season even that warped. Wood is great, but most of the sealants needed to keep it from warping isn’t really good for gardening. Some sealants are too toxic to grow food in.

I could repurpose the metal sheets but they are too tall for what I want to do and have very sharp edges. There are tons of youtube videos out there about building your own garden beds too. *sigh*

Choosing What is Right for You when it Comes to Garden Beds

After spending a season trying to repurpose the material in the old garden beds, I decided to see what I could find online. (Did I mention I had already put A LOT of effort into repurposing?) I found some galvanized steel garden beds.

Ooo, and lookie…they have supports in the middle to prevent bowing!!! And they come in various sizes. Granted, I will be using the largest size possible.

These do have sharp edges when building them and I was surprised to see that they included a pair of gloves for safety. (How did they know someone as clutzy as me would be purchasing them?)

Adding organic matter to your Garden Beds

I dig down about 1-2 ft and start layering. The first layer a thin layer of straw. Then I add a layer of sticks. Wood becomes like a sponge when it soaks up water. Then I add another layer of straw. And I fill the remaining depth of the bed with a compost/garden soil/sand mixture. I use sand because I have 5 acres of it!

The straw and wood will break down over time and provide a nice layer of organic matter that increases the moisture retention of the bed and provides nutrients for the plants.

Getting Soil

Most people go to garden centers and get a pallet of bagged soil. Why? Call different landscaping companies. Some will let you buy soil by the cubic yard — then all you have to do is find someone with a pickup truck!

Happy Gardening!


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