Budget Productive Soilless Garden Beds
Great Garden Growth While SAVING.
Looking for a really easy and friendly way to create some budget productive soilless garden beds?
Durability and ease of maintenance are also important when you are serious about both your growing projects and the potential impact they have on the earth, ie your “growing footprint”.
Here we have easy to follow instructions that save money on materials for the beds and the growing media to fill them.
Following these simple tips will yield THREE, two and a half feet wide by five feet long growing beds that have a planting depth of about sixteen inches when filled to their full depth with your choice of growing mediums like peat and coconut coir based soilless garden blends.
If you source used growing mixes from indoor gardening friends (who you know don’t use any nasty stuff for the healthy harvests they grow) the cost to build these beds, given a reasonable rate on common building lumber in your area is about $100.00
Alternatively, if you have to buy your growing medium or at least some of it, don’t skimp out on funds here-it’s better to find some salvageable wood somewhere in recapture your costs there to stay within budget. For the garden beds to be productive, we recommend a light, well aerated soilless blend.
If you can do BOTH, ie salvage your growing media and building lumber for beds, you are saving bags of money and wear and tear on the earth and it’s resources.
A lot of us don’t realize how much of a footprint we leave when we keep replacing growing medias that are shipped over and over again at great fuel expense before they are used—and often thrown away after only to be replaced again.
To wind up with THREE raised beds, 2-1/2′ wide by 5′ long with a maximum depth of 16” to plant in, you’ll need the following:
9 each-2” x 8” x 10′ untreated building lumber (cut 6 boards in Half, cut 3 boards in Quarters)
3 each-2” x 4” X 6′ untreated building lumber (cut each board in Quarters)
-about 200 pcs outdoor rated #8 x 3” long wood screws
-driver bit (for drill to fasten screws)
-pilot hole bit (recommended, but optional)
-wood saw (optional*)
-roll landscape fabric
*Almost any lumber yard will cut boards for you. A local place might do no charge for you if you go when it’s a quiet time. Most places charge a minimal fee per cut if they charge anything at all.
When done chopping you should have exactly:
12 each 2” x 8” x 5′ long boards (bed lengths)
12 each 2” x 8” x 2-1/2′ long boards (bed widths)
12 each 2” x 4” x 18” long boards (corner supports)
To fill the beds near the top for maximum planting capacity, we found it took about 3 Contractor Size Garbage Bags full of soilless peat mix (with perlite blended) per bed, so that’s Nine Bags Full, Sir.
Our cost here was virtually “free,” save for the fuel to go pick them up from a grower friend who was more than happy not to have deal with the disposal headaches (plus the pack of cold beer they got was a bonus over throwing it away too).
To make fastening the garden bed boards to the uprights easier, you can pre-drill pilot holes into the lumber first. If you do them all at once on a flat surface (remember to double check your measurements and test one first) it will make fastening them together with the wood screws and cordless drill a snap. Otherwise be prepared to wield a heavy line voltage drill or charge your batteries frequently-it takes a bit of Horse Power to fasten the boards if not pre-drilled.
Line the bottom of the beds with landscape fabric once completely assembled and then add your re-purposed soilless mix.
To re-charge and re-condition your re-purposed soilless garden mix (PER BED), add :
about 3 cups of prilled dolomite lime
two cups of dried kelp meal
one cup of ground rock phosphate.
All this can be bought in bulk typically inexpensively-maybe $10 worth of all of the above per bed
If budget allows add in a large bag of organic earth worm castings per bed and till in with a shovel along with the other essentials (above), being careful not to rip the landscape fabric that suppresses weeds and grasses from growing up into your planting beds while
Wet down with a 1/4 strength fertilizer after mixing in all of the ingredients and breaking up the medium into a nice even consistency.
To really get things going, try brewing some compost tea and drenching the beds.
Allow at least 5 to 7 days of warm weather for the beds to “recharge” with healthy biological life before planting. Healthy levels of rainfall help to wash away any excess nutrients from the previous crop in your re-cycled soil and encourage healthier microbiology versus chlorinated water sources which should be avoided, ie rain water or RO Filtration.