Saturday, December 01, 2007

Vegetables and Herbs: How to Build Raised Vegetable Beds (on a Slope/Hill)

In my children's garden, my children and I grow vegetables in addition to flowers. For the last two years, we used the same raised bed construction that I used in the side garden:

These were short raised beds constructed with six inch wide ipe wood. You can see a picture of one of these beds below from last summer with heirloom lemon cucumbers:

The rabbit fencing around the cucumbers was to keep the resident groundhog from eating the cucumbers in the same way he did the tomatoes.

Towards the end of the summer, we visited New York Botanical Garden's Home Gardening Center ( and were inspired by their raised beds that were significantly taller than the ones we had constructed. Thus, once we had harvested the last of our cucumbers and zucchinis, my husband deconstructed the old beds and built the new ones you see below:

Ipe was too difficult to work with and costly, so we made these out of cedar wood. We purchased standard six by one inch, un-treated ten foot planks and had them cut in half. Each box (two of three are pictured) is made of three planks on three sides and four planks on the fourth side because our entire property is on a slope. Two additional boards are placed on top on either side to create a place where you can sit, place tools, or when the vegetables have grown, stand.

We filled the bottom of the boxes with compostable garden waste. On top, we added a mix of composted cow manure, Bumper Crop and top soil. Then, to protect the soil, we sowed a cover crop of winter rye that I purchased from Johnny's Seeds ( The winter rye will be turned over in the spring adding even more organic material to the soil.

The overall result was a neater looking garden that will hopefully produce an even more robust crop next year.


For a follow-post on organically preparing the soil for planting, click here:


Dave said...

Your beds look good! I have plans to raise mine up a little higher next year. Just one step this year to fill then I can add another level. I'd love to make some from natural stone. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

GollyGumDrops said...

I'm just starting with the raised beds idea, I hadn't thought of putting compostable wate in, I was digging out only rotted compost, but it makes sense. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Nice beds. I just built 2 new vegetable beds (old ones were no longer in direct sun).

Lee Valley tools has "kits" for raised beds. The new gardens are 4' x 8' and 24 inches high. You attach brackets to 2x4 wood (we used cedar) patio slabs stand on their sides and there is another wood frame with brackets for the top. Each holds approx. 2.4 cubic yds of soil. We had triple mix brought in.

These gardens are a great height to work at - no more back breaking or kneeling.

wendy said...

Nice job. I have 9 raised bed boxes in my front yard 8x4', I used 10"x2". I built them right over the grass, put down cardboard to knock out the grass and filled with a combination of composted horse manure, mushroom compost and some topsoil from all great sources. I've had an abundance of vegetables and I love showing the world you can grow your food on the front lawn.
So succesful in fact, I've taken my prototype and I'm spreading it around Monmouth County,

Keep up the good work, nice blog.

Wendy FYF

Anonymous said...

Cool blog as for me. It would be great to read something more about this matter.
BTW check the design I've made myself High class escort

Anonymous said...


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