Veggie Gardening on a Budget

If you've read more than a few posts of mine you no doubt already know that I love a good deal and I love to DIY, so it only seems right that I would want to build and tend my own vegetable garden. 2015 will mark round 3 of attempted vegetable gardening, but this year I think I've nailed it. The past two attempts have been marred by a move in the middle (not good for happy veggies) and a combo of weird weather, bad container locations, and not enough givin-a-shit. HOWEVER, I have conquered all these factors and bring you...

BUDGET RAISED VEGGIE BED

First, you want to decide on your location and the size of the bed. I chose the sunniest corner of my front yard as the vast majority of my back yard barely gets filtered sun. It's pretty common for people to have raised vegetable beds in the front in my neighborhood so I'm good with it. I decided to make the bed 4'x6' so I'll get a decent yield, but it wont be unmanageable. 

Next you need to acquire your materials. I went to Dunn Lumber, a local lumber yard because a) they are close to my house and b) offer great prices and service. I had them cut the lumber into the lengths for me but if you have the tools and want to cut it yourself go for it! You could even see my Ladder DIY from September for a detailed how-to.

  • Two 4' and two 6' pieces of 1"x12" Cedar lumber -- you want cedar because it is untreated (pine and other lumber is treated with chemicals that can leach into your veggies--ICK)
  • 6- 2"x2" Garden stakes at least 12" long (mine are 24" because that is all they had)
  • Fasteners, I used screws and a drill but you could use hammer and nails-- whatever you have is fine
  • Roll of landscaping fabric
  • Staple gun (optional)
  • Measuring tape, pencil, scissors, moxie

Once you've wedged the lumber into your Toyota Corolla (for real, though) and safely gotten it home, lay out the pieces where you envisioned the bed to go. Is this really where you want it? I hope so, because moving it, while possible, is a bitch. 

For the next step, you may need a buddy to hold the lumber while you fasten them together. I'll wait. Got a buddy? Good.

Place three screws vertically, spaced evenly from one long side into a short edge. Repeat until you have a box! 

The landscaping fabric wasn't wide enough, so I had to layer two strips the length of my box to get the right width.

The landscaping fabric wasn't wide enough, so I had to layer two strips the length of my box to get the right width.

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Roll the landscaping fabric over the bottom of the box and staple it along the edges and trim away the extra. This is an optional step, but if you're putting the bed on (rented) grass like I am, you can't dig out the sod and need some way to promote good drainage and keep anything from growing up from the ground through the box.

I didn't get any good pics of the stapling process so you'll just have to use your imagination. It was majestic, I assure you.

I didn't get any good pics of the stapling process so you'll just have to use your imagination. It was majestic, I assure you.

Now is the do-or-die moment of placement. Seriously. Choose wisely! Can we move on now? Fantastic. Cut six 2" slits in the landscaping fabric in the corners as well as halfway along the long sides of the box. You may need more stakes on the sides if your box is much bigger, use your best judgement. Use a hammer to pound your stakes through the fabric and into the ground, making sure the stakes fit particularly snugly in the corners of the box. The stakes should go at least 3-5" into the ground so she'll be good n sturdy. Depending on your location, this make take some doing. This is where the moxie comes in. 

Screw the stake to the box from both sides of the corner, being careful to miss where you have previously set screws. Repeat the process until you have a sturdy awesome veggie box! 

Then you have to fill it with dirt. And by dirt I mean soil. I used a combo of Cedar Grove vegetable garden mix and Cedar Grove compost. I used this soil calculator to determine how much I would need for the size of my bed. That website is pretty awesome for other stuff to, so I encourage you to poke around. Their articles are super helpful.

It takes a LOT of soil to fill a box like this and raking it in is not for the faint of heart, but OH SO WORTH IT

It takes a LOT of soil to fill a box like this and raking it in is not for the faint of heart, but OH SO WORTH IT

Ta-dah! Sort of. What do you do now, you may say. Well, if you're me, you buy the Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden book that was just re-released or check out her website and drool over the prospects for future gardening ventures and start mulling over what you want to plant. You should also stay tuned for Part 2 of this post where I plan out the garden, get to the planting and size up the full budget! The building of the bed took a couple hours and the spreading of the soil took two of us 90 minutes or so, so take that into consideration when planning your own veggie garden. Not too much time/labor so far, but we've only just begun...


Going on your own gardening adventure? Share it with me on social media with #bettybetatester and check out what others are getting up to! As always, I welcome your questions, comments and suggestions either here or via bettybetatester@gmail.com - XO