Building a Raised Bed

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by Woggle, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. Woggle

    Woggle Member

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    Hi,

    I hope you might be able to help.

    I'm about to enter my second year of growing vegetables. We have a small garden and last year only a very small space for the patch.

    However, we have a large patio and I wondered whether it would be possible to buy some railway sleepers and fill the space with soil, on top of the material you line ponds with.

    Is it possible to build a raised bed on top of a patio with railway sleepers forming the outside? If so, could you suggest what sort of depth I need to be looking at?

    If I do go down this route, is there any other advice you could give?

    Thanks.
     
  2. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    I'd make sure weight isn't an issue for a start...

    Ed
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Creosoted railroad ties are smelly, messy and toxic. If you are set on using these put a protective layer over the outside such as roofing paper, stapled securely in place.
     
  4. Dave-Florida

    Dave-Florida Active Member

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    Brackets are available for holding pieces of lumber in place and creating corners of beds.
     
  5. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

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    Railway ties- my personal experience.
    An area of about 14 feet by 24 was enclosed with used railway ties, covered with the creosote coating. I coverd the inside of the ties with plastic bags the first year due to the caveats about them being harmful for plants. Eventually I got tired of the plastic bags interferring with rototilling, and pulled them all out.

    The following spring to my astonishement the area close to the railway ties was inhabited by numerous thriving, healthy earthworms. There were almost no earthworms in the central part of the garden. From that day on I took the warning about toxicity with a grain of salt. It may be that old railway ties do not have enough creosote to be harmful. I don't know unless further testing is done. But that is my experience.

    The advantage of railway ties is that they are so heavy that the earth contained stays in place, but one disadvantage is that they are wide and a lot of space is taken up that could be used for growing. And they are heavy and difficult to handle.

    Today I use the smaller mini ties common at most hardware stores and stack them two deep, and keep them in place using two foot rebar placed in holes drilled through the ties. This is a little more attractive, and sufficient strength for the purpose intended.

    Now back to making a 'garden' as you propose on the patio. This could become a real hassle, and hardly worth the effort- meaning it is impracticable. It could be done, but I would look for other alternatives, unless the choice was starving or building the garden as you propose.
     
  6. Chuck White

    Chuck White Active Member

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    A railroad tie garden layout will work---- however: A liner put in to hold the earth fill cannot be water proof or the plants will die because they can't swim. The 'fines' or smallest particles of soil will leach out and cover the patio with a layer of mud if there isn't a liner. You are sort of 'HAD'. I will agree that used ties can be a lot cheaper than other materials, but boy are they heavy! And it would work best if you put the garden on an open piece of ground to insure appropriate drainage. Your tie garden, when the plants are gone in the fall, can become a great ice skating rink by stapling poly in the form and filling the garden with water. I've done it. Works great!
     
  7. norma

    norma Member

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    And for a west coast lawn soon to be vegetables for the table. Can you recommend cedar boards for a raised bed, to keep things neat or do the sow bugs take over?
    Is cedar compatible with vegs?
     
  8. Chuck White

    Chuck White Active Member

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    In days "gone by", the use of 'aromatic' wood for multi purposes was common. Cedar, in particular, was used for fence posts. In areas of the country where termites were plentiful, some would stay with cedar, but would also soak the in-the-ground portion with creosote as an additional means of discouraging the termites.
    There was a time when almost every house had a 'cedar chest'. As the name implies, the chest was a wooden box, roughly half the size of a coffin, constructed entirely of cedar into which all unused woolens and other materials susceptable to bug damage would be stored. These chests were and are, finished nicely with varnish to show the wood grain and often,are works of art in themselves. Indeed, boards were milled just for the purpose of lining closet walls, to prevent moth damage to clothing.
    Cedar, yellow pine, cyprus, and hemlock would be ok also, although hemlock is better known for its water damage resistance. (There are water lines below many of the streets in Manhattan, N.Y. that are still in use that are bored out hemlock logs from the 1800's.
    The most common fence posts available today are Southern yellow pine which have been treated with a fungicide. A pressure treated 2x12 plank would be a good wall plank for a raised bed garden. Out where you are, if they still allow cutting the trees, red wood planks would be long lasting.
    Hope that helps.
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  10. Dave-Florida

    Dave-Florida Active Member

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    The new plastic planking should work well, too.

    Cedar should indeed be available--my new mailbox support is cedar.
     
  11. Kiwi123

    Kiwi123 Member

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    Have you thought of making one out of good old bricks and mortar?
    I have just finished making one for my mum. Looks fine and it was easy too!
     
  12. Newbee

    Newbee Member

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    I have built several raised beds using cedar. It's readily available at most DIY large stores (e.g. Rona) although I got mine from Windsor Plywood who helpfully cut it all to my specs. I reckon that the beds should be good for 10 years, even in our wet climate.

    Lee Valley sells good corner brackets for raised beds - check out their website under gardening.

    I would avoid landscape ties - they're heavy, ugly and contrary to what others may think, they ARE full of "chemicals" which if you want to grow your own veggies and fruits rather defeats the purpose....

    Louise
     
  13. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    if this is going on your patio/deck why not use large tubs for the plants?

    definitely would save time and work.
     
  14. Creeping Jenny

    Creeping Jenny Active Member

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    I had a flower garden on my patio when I lived in a condo. My hubby made a wooden box, we lined it and added dirt. We also had a whiskey barrel full. It worked and looked great! Im sure it would work for veggies too. Good luck!
     

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