Growing their own vegetables is high on the list of projects for many people. The idea of organic gardening and the convenience of walking out your back door to have fresh vegetables is very appealing. To limit the space that a garden uses, raised gardens are a good option. A raised vegetable garden assures that you can have a high quality of soil, constant care, and ease of harvesting the vegetables as they ripen.
Determine the size of the bed.
Figuring out how large the raised vegetable garden should be requires several questions to be answered. The first consideration is to choose what type of plants that you want to grow. Once the type of plant is determined, you must decide how many plants. Next, you need to determine how much space you have that can be used for gardening. Finally, cost is a factor to be considered. Bigger beds cost more to build, buy plants for, and maintain.
Pick the location.
Measure off the dimensions of the bed on the ground where you plan to build it. Drive stakes at the corners of the planned bed. Stretch a string from corner to corner. Make any adjustments to the plot size and shape to help it to fit better. One strong consideration is that the vegetable garden bed be near a water source like your garden hose. You may want it close enough that you can easily light it when needed. Try not to make the bed so remote that it is inconvenient to check on it.
Remove the top soil and plants.
Use a sharp shovel and remove the soil and plants inside the boundaries of the garden. You need to go down between two and four inches. Try to keep the sides perpendicular so that it will give more stability to the bed.
Select the timbers that you will use to build the sides of the bed.
Use treated wood. Cut the timbers to fit. Unless you are a perfectionist, exact precision is not your goal. Landscape timbers are rarely perfect. You need to get close to your needs. If you end up with larger than intended openings at the corners or between the timbers, you can use some plastic for a liner to keep soil from washing away.
You can either place the wood around the upper edges of the bed where you have not removed soil, or they may be put in like a lining inside the dug out area. If you are putting them inside the area that you have cleared, make sure that the dimensions of the bed are large enough to accommodate the wood and still be the size bed that you intended.
Drill holes through the wood so that spikes of dowels can be tapped into them to hold them together.
The holes need to be large enough to allow the dowels or spikes to fit through them but not be too loose. In the first row, you need to have long enough spikes to drive through the timbers and into the soil. As you add rows of timbers to reach the desired height of the bed walls, continue to drill holes and use spikes or dowel to hold each row in place. If you are talented enough, you can also lash the rows to each other with wire or some type of weatherproof twine.
Fill the vegetable garden bed with a good quality of potting soil.
Technically, you can just use any type of soil, but good potting soil should produce better results. Make sure to cover the bottom of the bed with some type of barrier that will allow water to pass through. It also should let the plant roots penetrate as they develop. The barrier is to act as a preventer for any leftover roots or seeds that may not have been removed previously. A cheap way to do this is to spread a layer of two of old newspaper over the exposed soil before filling it with potting soil.
Build a fence around the top of the garden bed.
This is optional. However, if you have rabbits or other creatures that might enjoy feeding off of your garden, this will keep a lot of frustration out of your life. Make sure that you construct some sort of simple opening that can function as a gate to let you inside the bed.
If you are not a builder, you have a couple of lesser options.
You can cut the bottom out of an old plastic swimming pool and excavate a large enough area to let the pool sit into the ground a couple of inches. Place the barrier over the earth and cover it with potting soil until the pool is filled. Large truck tires can be used, but these are not as environmentally friendly over time. Even car tires can work if you can live with how it looks to have a lot of tires laying around on your property. Some people have used old carpeting or rugs in place of newspaper for the barrier under the garden soil.
The big advantage of a raise vegetable garden bed is access.
Because the garden is raised, you can do a lot of the work with a lot less bending and stooping. Many people have found short stools to sit on while doing weeding and other gardening chores just to make it easier on the knees. If you leave a path all of the way around the garden, you can probably reach most of it without having to walk on it.