Raised garden beds can be pricey. Like, really pricey. Growing your own food is awesome, but who wants their spinach to end up costing $300/lb once all the costs are added in?
We have been planning to add garden beds to our back yard for years, and this year we finally got moving because we also wanted to teach our kids about gardening. We enjoy gardening, but wanted to keep it pretty small and manageable. After a good deal of pondering and planning and such we decided to just go ahead and use plain ole untreated douglas fir. I’m sure you have heard that the recommended woods for a garden bed are cedar or redwood. It is true that those woods will last a lot longer than fir, but the upfront costs are much higher. As an example, a 2x12x8 piece of cedar will set you back $28.88 at our local Home Depot, while the same dimension lumber in fir runs $9.86. We figure that we can get at least 5 good years out of the less expensive wood, even in our rainy location.
We designed our boxes in a U shape with three foot beds on the sides and 2 feet on the back end. A 2 and a half foot walk way allows access down the middle. I am not going to spend much time going over the construction on this one, mostly because we actually did that about a month ago and didn’t take photos, but also because you can kind of see how it goes together. I am certainly happy to answer any questions you may have.
Our garden bed cost us just under $100 in materials, and another $80 in soil and compost. We also added a layer of rock to the bottom for drainage, and I think we spent about $30 on that, bringing our total to just over $200.
The frost cover for our garden was ridiculously easy, and cheap. You can build your own like this for about $20, and less if you use recycled supplies (check Restore, it cost us about $1 per pipe there). The pvc pipe for ours was recycled from another project. Because we already had the pipe laying around we actually spent a grand total of $7.85 to build this cover.
If you would like to learn how to make a cover like this, read on. Or, you know, if you find this horrifically boring, just skim the photos and do your thing. You got this.
Supplies: Also some 2×4 if your garden bed doesn’t have them around the top edge. And yes, that is a hair dryer. Onward!
You’ll need 45 degree elbow pvc connectors. Actually, maybe you can do without them. But I used them. The drill bit you cannot skip, though. I used a 1 3/8 for the 3/4 inch pvc, because 3/4″ is a measurement of the inside, you see. 1/2″ pvc would probably work fine, too. This is just what we had on hand.
If you don’t have a 2×4 lining the top of your garden bed, you will want one. I used scrap pieces of 2×4 to give it extra support. This is also a nice little place to sit when working in the garden.
I drilled five holes per side, spaced about 20 inches apart.
The connectors sit down in the holes far enough that they won’t slip out, but easily enough that you can remove them anytime.
We used 3/4″ pvc, which doesn’t willingly bend enough to connect to both sides of a 3 foot wide frame. But pvc is plastic, and plastic melts, right? So I grabbed my hair dryer and an extension cord and gave it a go. After about 30 seconds of concentrated heat that puppy gives up the fight and is easy to bend.
I figured out what size I wanted by doing the first one out of a full 8 foot section of pipe and bending it into the desired lengths for all sides. I trimmed up the excess with my miter saw. Then I cut approximately the same overall lengths for the other four pipes.
The plastic drapes over the top and is secured in place with 1″ diameter pipe with a section cut out so that the rest forms a clip. They are easy to take on and off, but tight enough to hold it though wind or whatever.
There you have it, an easy but not too shabby looking frost cover for somewhere around $20! Happy gardening!