Home Farming Challenge | Building a Raised Vegetable Farm Bed

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Now that we are well into April, I’m really excited to share with you my home farming updates, which include the construction of our raised bed farm and seed planting. Before diving right into the construction process, I think it’s important you know that as a family, we are novices in the world of home farming. My one previous attempt at a vegetable farm was a sad, very sad attempt that resulted in very little crop to harvest and an abundance of pests. My hope is that if you are a first time home farmer, you’ll be able to learn from my experiences as I dive into this project with no more knowledge or experience than what HomeFarming.com has provided me with.

With my “big brown thumb” disclaimer out of the way, I want to share our raised bed farm. Building this with the help of my father was an amazing experience that left me feeling like I can do anything.

The tools and materials we used to build our raised bed frame to create approximately 80 cubic feet of farming space, included:

  • (3) – 2 x 12 x 8 untreated pine boards
  • (2) – 2 x 12 x 12 untreated pine boards
  • 1 box of 3 inch outdoor wood screws, 18 screws used
  • (6) corner wood braces
  • 1 box of 1-1/2 inch outdoor wood screws, 18 screws used
  • power drill with drill bit

 

raised bed garden supplies and tools

Being the adventurous, overachieving kind of person that I am, I chose to go outside the box so to speak and create an L-shaped raised bed farm to fit in the corner of our property. Not only does it conserve space usage but it becomes an appealing part of our landscaping.

Together, we simply pre-drilled 3 holes at the corners of each piece of lumber and used 3 screws (per corner) to join the frame, with the help of my daughters passing out screws of course.

Raised Bed Garden Toddler Helpers

 

During the construction process we questioned the ability of the frame to withstand the pressure the soil would place on it so we added braces to each corner to help provide support. It’s an inexpensive addition to the raised bed frame that just may save you a disaster later on!

Raised Bed Garden Corner Brace

 

One thing we quickly learned through this process is that building a raised bed farm is without a doubt, a two person job! While shopping for our lumber we noticed that it is rare to find a board that is perfectly straight. While we were finishing the last few corners, it was necessary to have one person bend and hold a board in place while the other person drilled and placed the screws. It was a relatively easy process that I think any person capable of lifting heavy boards could do!

L shaped raised bed garden frame

 

For our family, one of the best things about creating a home farm, aside from the vegetables, is the fact that it’s an educational family activity. Throughout the process my 9 year old son has learned basic tool skills, a few math and geometry lessons while building the frame and the concept of manual labor. As a parent, I understand the importance of education and more so, the importance of hands on learning, outside of the classroom.

Family Gardening Project

 

The biggest tip I can share as part of this initial process is to search your local paper for supplies! A raised bed farm doesn’t have to be expensive; in fact, we’re completing this project under $300. Our biggest money saving purchase, especially with a raised bed farm of this size, is to skip buying the bagged soil. Many contractors and farmers have premium garden soil for sale that can be purchased by the truckload at a much more reasonable price.

We reached out to D & L Contractors in the Springfield, IL area who provided us with 80 cubic feet of soil, which they delivered, for only $125. Compared to buying bagged soil, we saved over $300 and filled our raised bed with premium, black top soil. Also, with the advice from Home Farming expert, Paul James, we are adding organic matter to prepare our raised bed soil properly.

L Shaped Raised Bed Garden

 

We also tested our soil to determine the PH and nutrient levels, which revealed that the Nitrogen is Medium, the Potash is Low, the PH level is Neutral and the Phosphorus is Very Low. To provide lots of nutrients for the vegetable plants, we’ll be incorporating mushroom compost. Plus we’ll add peat moss into our soil, which helps loosen up the soil.

home farm soil test kit colors

 

I have to say, the best part of this experience for me so far has been planting the seeds. I may have gone a little overboard with my selections but I really wanted a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables available to me throughout the summer. About half of our home farm was started by seeds in Peat Soil Pellets and the rest will be planted as small plants in the coming weeks.

The variety of vegetables and herbs we are growing includes:

  • Herbs – Mint, Rosemary, Sweet Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Chives, Oregano, Lavender, Spearmint
  • Seed Veggies – Chili Peppers, a variety of Carrots, Romaine Lettuce
  • Plant Veggies – a variety of Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Garlic, Onions

 

seeds planted in jiffy pellets

In addition to the construction of our raised bed farm and seed planting, we also got a bit crafty with the addition of vegetable markers to not only help identify the vegetables and herbs we’re growing but to create a more visually appealing farm space.

vegetable garden markers

 

Now that all of the construction is behind us, I’m more excited than ever to see how our farm will grow in the coming weeks. If you’d like to follow my journey and daily updates, be sure to follow @3kidsandus and the #HomeFarmingDay hashtag on Twitter.

Home Farming Blogger Challenge Journeys

DisclosureThis is a compensated, sponsored post for Triscuit. All ideas, thoughts, experiences are my own. Be sure to check out my posts as well as the other bloggers participating in this challenge on Better Homes and Garden’s Home Farming Challenge page.

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  1. Cat,

    That is great the whole family was able to get involved. I like your “designer” approach to the shape of the box. We are planting our seedlings indoors (“indoor greenhouse”) this weekend. The weather keeps bringing rain and it would wash them away if we started putting them in the ground now. Also, our planting area that was clear last week, now has weeds, etc. that have grown and we’ll have to pull and weed whack AGAIN before planting.

    • Jennifer, that would make me crazy with the weeds. So far we haven’t had any pop up but I’m guessing that won’t last much longer.

  2. We just assembled one of the raised beds the other day….its a lot of work but SO worth it! I love the picture of the two curly heads bent over looking at what the man (grandpa?) doing. …ADORABLE!

    • LOL yep, that’s Kaydee and Emma handing out screws to grandpa. They are stuck to him like glue. You know, I actually expected building the bed to be a lot harder than it was. I’m just glad I had my dad to help me, I couldn’t have done it without him.

  3. That is SO cool! I just want one decent weather day here so we can build ours!

  4. Those little heads were all up in his construction business. LOL So funny! This is really cool, and I can totally see where it has a ton of educational value.

    I love the cute little signs you made for your goodies too. :)

  5. Your bed looks great! And I love your cute little signs!

    We have two rectangular raised beds in our yard and love them. Now if we could just keep some veggies alive and producing, we’d be in good shape!

  6. We have a regular in the ground garden in the backyard but this year we are building a raised bed on the side of the patio just for herbs. I can’t wait. Hmmm I never thought to test our soil though.

  7. I would have never thought to test the soil! Love watching the process, especially all the family pitching in to do it together!

  8. Brandy says:

    I was JUST talking with my husband about this! Thanks for the tutorial!

  9. I am impressed by the way you saved money on your garden soil and the construction of unusual shaped reaised bed but I’m curious about what you are going to grow in your garden.

  10. Victoria says:

    That looks so cool! :) I always wanted to plant a garden!

  11. wow! I am really excited to follow you along in this project you are doing and cannot wait to see the final results! It seems like a ton of work but I’m sure it will be worth it! I just planted my first garden and next year I want to do a raised bed.

  12. Donna B. says:

    I want to do a raised garden but I’m doing container gardening again this year, since it’s easier on my knees.

    Maybe next year :)

  13. Wow, that raised bed looks great! You did a fantastic job on it. Love that it is not just a rectangle.

  14. Your raised bed is absolute perfection. Good idea adding the brackets, I could only imagine what the garden would look like if the boards come apart. Yikes! I would have never thought to test soil PH, if it weren’t for this post and Youtube. The veggie markers are too cute! I can’t wait to get ours started!

  15. Cat, it looks amazing! I love the L shape! I can wait to see your garden grow! :)

  16. I’m excited to see how this goes for you! I can remember helping my grandma in her huge garden and the tasty fresh veggies that came out of it. We plan to do a raised bed garden, but probably not till next year. We’ll have to put an 8′ fence around it to keep the deer, elk, and other assorted critters out and don’t think we’ll get to it this summer with all the other projects in the works.

    • Oh gosh I couldn’t deal with animals that big getting in my garden. We do have deer in the area but they tend to stay back now that the neighborhood is expanding. My biggest fear is the bunnies getting my plants.

  17. valmg @ Mom Knows It All says:

    Looks like you’re off to a great start. Can’t wait to see the progress as things start to grow!

  18. You make it look so easy! Thanks for the detailed post and I can’t wait to see what you grow!

  19. Rose Moore says:

    Thank you so much. I am a widow raising our ten year old son alone and this was a great project for us. It was simple and fun. We had been planting a small garden in pots. Thanks again from a mom who has never enough time or money. You made us feel like a real family again how can I ever really thank you for that.

  20. I love the shape! That is very cool

  21. Dahbou says:

    I have to admit that I never quite understood the benefits of a raised garden until I moved a year ago into my current apartment. I appreciate your post and I think I will try this next spring. Especially with the price of food this year, it will hopefully bring a good variety of delicious veggies into my kitchen. Thanks for sharing! (and thanks for the tip about the expense of bagged soil.)

  22. Stefani says:

    I’ve been wanting a garden, but am living in an apartment with no room/no backyard. Once I’m a homeowner, I’m definitely doing this!

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  1. [...] been feeling quite protective of it. After all, I’ve put a lot of time and work into it from building the raised bed garden, filling it with dirt and now, planting my tender, little vegetables. What I hadn’t expected [...]