As many of you know from personal experience or from this blog, I have four 4×8 foot raised beds in my side yard. I’ve highly enjoyed the fruits (and vegetables!) of my labors there, and would highly recommend building raised beds. Here are the plans we used. We accomplished all four beds, including dirt, for about $300. I’d say I’ve gotten my $300 back in produce and pleasure over the past couple years.
The BES, Gadgetron, Dad & I pre-cut and pre-drilled all the pieces on a Friday night in the garage at Castle Falkencrab. The next day we brought them to my house and put them together. It took the better part of the day, but it would have been worse had we not pre-planned/cut/drilled. We got dirt from Kalamazoo Landscape Supply to fill the beds with healthy garden soil. Next time I won’t cheap out and go back and forth in Dad’s truck, I’ll just pay to have 2-3 yards delivered.
The first year I suffered mightily at the hands of the wildlife that forages in my yard. Deer, rabbits, woodchucks etc – they saw a tasty and well constructed buffet. Decimation ensued. I have since fenced it in with 8 foot netting on t-posts, which slowed the decimation some. Next year I’m just going to get a .22 and CLACK CLACK! Kidding, of course, to any members of local law enforcement or City Commissioners reading this. Jusssst kidding…..
Dad and I toyed with the idea of building it into a greenhouse structure, but sinking 10 foot 4x8s along the perimeter of the beds, probably three along the 4′ ends and four along the 8′ ends. We would sink them 3′ in cement, so as to avoid the frost heave, which would leave 7 feet of 4×8 above ground. I, personally, am about 5’10”. This becomes relevant later.
Once the posts are set and cured, we could screw lattice to the posts for fencing and trellising purposes on all four sides. There will be a gate on the east and west sides of the garden for easier pass-through for AE events and my general yard work. Since the plastic lattice comes in many shades now, as well as many sizes , we can choose something that matches up with the 4x8s and looks “finished” and not half-assed and home-made. I like lattice because I can run peas, beans, cukes, and an assortment of other things up the lattice and have it be strong enough (screwed to the 4x8s) to support many crops. So, now we have our summer structure!
For our winter structure, what we would then do is drill diagonal holes in the sides of the 4x8s near the top of the posts. Those holes will hold an as-yet undertermined size of PVC pipe to form a frame to support the pitched “roof” of our winter structure. There will be holes drilled in the top of the 4x8s as well to put in linchpins to help strength the PVC structure. Come winter, heavy mil plastic can be wrapped tightly around this frame and zip tied to either the lattice or eye-bolts in the 4x8s. The roof will be pitched to encourage runoff of snow and water. I’m thinking of a zip door (like drywallers use) to gain entry to the greenhouse. Being as the 4x8s will be 7′ off the ground, I’ll have plenty of room to move around freely inside. Come spring, we’ll just remove the roof structure and the plastic and box it up for next winter!
This hasn’t come to fruition just yet, because I deploy PVC hoops over the raised beds and use floating row cover to extend the garden season by creating a microclimate in each bed. But, I put it here to spark your own thinking and creating!
I’m also still thinking about how to best utilize the 5x5x6 foot cement block well pit, in my small backyard, right off my kitchen door. It’s very clean. A ladder can be put down into it very easily. I’m thinking cold storage, but I’m not sure how to go about that. I should probably buy a humidistat and a thermometer and take some readings over the seasons, so I know what types of things I can safely store in it. I’m certain I can keep potatoes, squashes, apples, onions, and a host of other garden produce in there quite happily all winter. Maybe in metal mesh baskets I can pull up with hooks? Still mulling that one over.
Do any of you have a cold storage solution? I’d like to put by more things for winter and make use of what I already have.