Monday, March 15, 2010

Calling In The Reinforcements

If you're going to build raised beds, let me suggest you stick with two inch thick boards. The majority of my beds are made with two inch boards, but there are four boxes of varying size spread throughout the garden that are one inch boards built with scavenged or left over wood from other projects. The two inch beds have held together fantastically . Five of which I've even doubled the height and they're still all holding together. But...and you knew there was going to be a 'but,' every one of my one inch beds is falling apart.

The planks are warping beyond the scope of the screws' ability to hold the sides together. So, this weekend I called in the reinforcements and the man was kind enough to shore up some of the sides for me. He fixed three beds this weekend, but for some reason, I only shot pictures of this one which was the most difficult to fix.

This bracket had to be put on from the inside and anchored to the box behind it since the entire box and filling would have to be removed in order to fix the back end. It's my smallest box, height wise, and wouldn't get moved around anyway. It has spinach in it now.
That entire left side flopped over and here you can see why. The front plank is so warped that the man couldn't even screw in the reinforcing bracket unless he attached it to the bottom.
There's another tip you can see right there. See the grain on that piece? See how it's facing outwards? That was a mistake on my part when the boxes were built to begin with. If I would have put the grain facing in, it wouldn't be bowing out like it is. Live and learn.
So now all of the small boxes are ready to be amended and planted in mid April. MAN! I can't believe it's almost time to get those summer crops in. Sadly, my fall crops are almost non existent at this point because of our cold winter and we're still below average temperatures. I'm wondering if those plants will even make it to maturity before I rip them out for the summer plants. I've got to get those squash and zucchini in the ground at the first opportunity to get them producing before our first round of Squash Vine Borers hits. We're lucky enough to have warm enough temperatures to have two full life cycles of those *$*# things, but if we get started early enough, we'll still get a decent harvest. I wanted to direct sow them, but it looks more and more like I'll be starting transplants.
The plants last year on March 30th are about 7-10 times larger than they are now. I'm not thinking they'll catch that far up in just a few days. I'm going to have some big decisions to make, I sure am.
The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.


  1. Awwww, those warped boards look like my little birdhouse roofs. They really warped...I should have brought them inside for the winter.

  2. I'm sorry that you're having so much trouble with the 1" boards. All of mine are made from them, and I have no problems whatsoever. Of course they are put together with 3" deck screws, too. Let me know if I can help.

  3. One of my 2x3s that I used for my trellis support has twisted almost 90 degrees and will need to be replaced. I also don't expect my 2x6s to last more than a few years. Winters are the culprit here.

  4. Mine are all 1" boards too, but this is only my second season and they are fastened together differently. Last year we could not find any 2" cedar, this year we found it, but not for the garden depth I was after.

    Sorry to see your beds are giving you such trouble!

  5. I did mine like EG's too and haven't had a problem, but hubby also screwed in a "ledge" of sorts on top, like a little place to sit all around, and I am sure that has added a little more structure. With all these rains we have been having, it remains to be seen if they will suffer any damage once they start drying out. The problems we have with the raised beds sure are worth it though when they are working!!

  6. At least you have lots of room for summer crops! And a helper when the boards get wonky.

    Have you thought about succession-planting summer squash? I might do it trying to fight powdery mildew this summer. Nasty stuff.

  7. Life would be so much easier if shit didn't happen :-) I used untreated 2x8 lumber for my beds. They stay pretty stable but do slightly warp as well. Good luck with your summer crops, hope you get lots of purple & black tomatoes.

  8. The most rewarding and frustrating thing about gardening is that it's a constant learning process. I always look back on some gardening project that I've done and wonder if I could have constructed it or grown it better. Great advice though! At least we can teach from our mistakes right?!