I just discovered this gem of a post on the Art and Appetite blog and quickly wrote to them for permission to share their image, which they kindly gave. I’ve added a few thoughts of my own here including some important tips on wood choices.
One of the things I like about this system is that the “frames” keep the whole thing tidy and keep the herbs under control, though if you are growing herbs such as mint that tend to go crazy, you will still need to keep them trimmed!
The system is easy to make and can be adapted to any size space. It’s simply a rectangular frame that is then placed on the ground and filled with soil / your preferred growing medium. Another thing that is good about these raised beds is that they will keep out gophers – but if your garden area is “gopherville” you may also wish to attach a layer of 3/4 inch chicken wire to the underside of the frame before filling with growing medium.
You’ll need the typical tools of carpentry such as saw, tape measure, drill / screw gun and a sturdy bench on which to cut the wood.
Please be safe – follow standard safety procedures when cutting and if you are not confident / skilled to do this, have someone else do it for you. Some stores that supply lumber will cut it to size for you if you ask them! Also be sure to plane / sand off any sharp corners and screw in all screws fully so that the heads are not sticking out, this will help avoid scrapes when working in the area or walking through. Remember also the old carpenters’ saying “Measure twice, cut once!”
Which Wood Is Best For Raised Herb Beds?
This part is quite important and so I did some additional research into the best type of wood to use for the raised beds.Fortunately I have friends here in California who come from an “old school” homestead background where the families lived off the land and did everything themselves! They had all the answers as per usual. 🙂 Here are their tips on the best types of wood to use.
Best: Reclaimed old growth redwood. This is good for two reasons – one, properly seasoned old growth redwood can last for up to 100 years as the seasoning and the oils in it protect it from decay. Two – being reclaimed, you are not harming any more old growth trees, which are now scarce.
Good: Redwood or Cedar. Redwood that is not old growth can still last 25 to 50 years.
Fair: Regular construction lumber such as Doug fir. This was used by the creator of the photograph. It’s cheaper than the above woods, but for a reason – the problem in this application is that it is prone to mold and will start to decay quite quickly.
Avoid: Treated wood. You can tell this wood because of the dashed markings along it. Don’t use it – chemicals will leach out of it and contaminate soil and your herbs. It’s also nasty stuff to work with. I would also suggest to avoid the use of painted wood – as chemicals from the paint could potentially enter the soil also.
If you don’t want to use wood at all, another option is to use stone slabs, which of course do not decay, or brick to surround the herbs. I’ve also seen those hollow ‘breeze blocks” used to good effect, though not very attractive in my opinion.