Building a Cheap and Easy DIY Garden Bed

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I’ve been garden-less for the past two years and wanted to put together an easy DIY garden bed. So in true fashion, I started looking into MANY different designs:

  • RootSimple‘s strawbale raised bed was surely on my mind. They used strawbales and mixed manure with lots of nitrogen. The idea seems great and the results look impressive.
  • There is also the Keyhole garden design I wrote about earlier. Great design and I love how accessible the garden becomes. Also it integrates the composting, which I like.
  • Lastly, I still had in the back of my mind the most resent gardens I built. One wast the corrugated metal hugelkultur style bed. Which cost me nearly $300 and was lost due to us moving within the year. It did however hold moisture really well and kept most animals out.
  • The other was the last garden upgrade from when I lived in Silverlake. This one was effective yet expensive as I bought about 9 bags of organic soil and 3 of steer manure.

After thinking of all these designs and looking at our available resources, we decided to make yet another hybrid. Shocking, right? The main reason I went with a new design is, well, availability and price. Except for the drip irrigation, which I’ll mention more of further down, this only cost me time. There is also the value added of the free workout.

How I built this Cheap and Easy DIY Garden Bed:

The new garden bed location
The new garden location has heavily compacted clay soil, with some horse manure stomped in there.

As a side note, you might notice the yellow “flags”. This is all that is needed as a deer deterrent. I’ve heard in the past that they will not jump over “floppy” things. I must report that it actually works. Now if only bunnies, gophers, mice and rats felt the same way…

The Materials:

Decomposed straw bales ,from horse bedding?
Large pile of old horse bedding dumped on the side of the driveway. I carried a good six strawbales worth of it and only made a dent. The good thing about this is that it is already somewhat decomposed and weathered, so I’m hoping not to have to add too much nitrogen to the mix. The, possible, bad is that there might be some seeds in there… No big deal.
Rich soil in situ - The Greenman Project
Three wheel barrows of old and well decomposed horse manure. It is sure to have some seeds, but the price is right.
Pile of leafs and soil
An unsightly mess was gathered from years of falling, and decomposing, oak leaves. In addition to some soil I had to move in order to get the RV into the place. It worked great as the “filler” for the beds.
Relocating potatoes
Saved these spuds from said unsightly mess.
Found two piles of old fire wood on the property. These are great for the hugelkultur aspect.
Mid way through planning the beds, I found two piles of old fire wood on the property. These are great for a hugelkultur (more on that later) aspect which would allow for greater water retention, more biomass, and a slew of other benefits.
Old dry loggs for the hugelkultur 2 - The Greenman Project
I asked my Permaculture instructor, where I could source wood for a hugelkultur bed. He told me “Hugulkutur is one of those things that I would only recommend if you already have lots of logs and dirt and water!” Lucky for me, I now have them. Not it as large a quantity as I would like but…

Building the garden bed:

DIY Garden Bed
Garden bed shape defined by the straw.

I gathered the straw from down the road and placed it according to the ever evolving plan. I was originally planning on doing several East to West facing beds, however I decided to go with a design that keeps all of the mass together. This, I hope, creates better soil biodiversity and avoids an “island” effect. Also, as you will notice, there are no wood frames to this bed. The reason is twofold. First, not having the frames creates more edge. Edge, in the Permaculture sense, meaning more space for things to happen. The second reason is money… I decided to build this with as little money inputted as possible.

DIY Garden Bed
Added loggs to the bed for hugelkultur like system.
DIY Garden Bed
Garden bed finished
Drip irrigation - The Greenman Project
Drip irrigation tested and working well
Rare seed packets - The Greenman Project
Now all that remains is for these seeds to hit the ground and reach for the sky!

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