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How to Build a Raised Garden Bed

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed

Build a Raised Garden Bed

    Though the snowdrifts outside are still waist-high and the sun is still setting before 6 pm, it’s at this time of year that many avid gardeners start thinking about the green spaces they’ll be tending in the not-so-distant future. Months spent away from gardens have made many of us tetchy and anxious, prompting us to spend hours going through seed catalogues and gardening websites, adding to ever-growing Pinterest boards in preparation for the lushness we’ll be planting soon.

    Raised beds look amazing in any garden space—be that a front yard herb garden or a sprawling backyard tomato plot—and they’re remarkably easy to build. Additionally, if the soil in your region is fairly poor, creating a raised bed full of compost-rich soil will undoubtedly help you grow abundant, healthy vegetables and herbs that may not have thrived if planted in the ground. Having a raised bed is also beneficial for jump-starting your garden, as the soil within will be warmer than the earth below ground level.

    Basic materials needed:

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    • Measuring tape
    • Garden spade and trowel
    • Lumber (pre-cut, or else have a table saw handy)
    • Wood glue
    • Screws that are long enough to hold the wood sturdily in place
    • Steel corner docks (optional)
    • Garden bed layers (newspaper, lawn clippings, leaves, compost, and bedding soil)

    Wooden Beds

    Wooden Beds

      Many people choose to make their raised planter beds out of wood, which is really the cheapest and easiest resource to work with. To create a raised wooden bed, begin by measuring out the area that you’ll be working with. The bed shouldn’t be more than 4 feet wide, as you’ll need to be able to reach the center of it to pull weeds and the like, and as for height, I’d make it at least 8-10 inches high. Some people prefer theirs to be 1-2 feet in height, but that’s an individual choice.

      Cedar is the best type of wood to use, but you can also use pine for this project. I like to use 4″ x 4″ lumber for beds, as they’re fairly sturdy and have more surface area for wood glue to adhere to.

      Once you’ve measured out the garden space, dig a slight trench around the perimeter for the timbers to nestle into. Lay the wood down into the trenches, ensuring that they butt up against each other quite firmly, and screw them into place. Slather those timbers with wood glue and then lay down the next layer, ensuring that you’ve alternated the orientation of the wood to create lapped corners, and allow this to dry for 6-8 hours before screwing them into the lower layer of wood. Repeat this process until the bed is as high as you’d like it—just be sure to stagger the screws around the edges so you don’t drill one into the other.

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      Once you’re happy with the height, you can reinforce the edges with steel corner docks if you feel that extra stability is needed.

      Brick or Fieldstone Beds

      Stone Garden Bed

        Materials needed:

        • Measuring tape
        • Bricks, cinder blocks, or stones
        • Garden spade or trowel
        • Mortar paste
        • Mason’s trowel
        • Garden bed layers (newspaper, lawn clippings, leaves, compost, and bedding soil)

        The method of creating beds of stone is really quite basic. Do you remember stacking bricks or logs when you were a child? Remember how you needed to stagger/alternate them so they didn’t just fall over? This is the same deal, only on a larger scale.

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        The dimensions for a block-bordered raised bed should be the same as with wood, but instead of wood glue and screws, you’ll use mortar to keep the bricks/stones in place. In order to figure out how many bricks you’ll need, go to a building center and ask for an estimate—just give the supplier the measurements of the length and height of the planter you’re planning, and they can let you know how many blocks are needed. You can either buy new materials, or re-use masonry from buildings that have been torn down. Wherever you source your blocks from, always have 10 or so extra lying around just in case they’re needed.

        Fieldstone

          As with the wood, dig a slight trench around the perimeter of the bed for the bricks to nestle into. Bricks are great to work with as they can be adjusted to create any shape; if you don’t want a rectangular bed, you can create a round, oblong, or free-form organic structure instead. Lay down the first layer of blocks into the trench, and then lay the second layer atop them, ensuring that they’re staggered. Once you have them all in place, you’ll lift them one by one, slap some mortar paste on the bottoms of them, and set them back into place to secure them. You’ll let this cure for a day or two before filling in the bed.

          If you’re using fieldstones instead of bricks or blocks, ensure that they’re mostly flat and will sit together firmly and securely. You’re also more likely to have gaps between these stones than with bricks or cinder blocks, but you can fill those in with smaller rocks and a bit of mortar.

          Layered Filling

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          Lasagna

            Now that you’ve created the planter, it’s time to fill it with a “lasagna” of organic layers that will create a rich soil. Put down about 4 layers of newspaper (black and white print only: no colour or glossy adverts), then 1 inch of aged animal manure or vegetable compost.

            Note: be sure to wet your newspaper before layering it, so it’ll stick together and won’t fly off into your neighbour’s yard with the slightest breeze.

            After the paper comes a few inches of “green mulch” made from mixed leaves, grass (lawn clippings, straw), and peat moss, followed by a thick layer of compost-rich bedding soil. That’s all watered and left to settle for a few days, and after that, you’re ready to plunk in your seedlings.

            *Note: Be sure to adjust the layer thicknesses to correspond with the height of your raised bed: an 8-inch planter will only need 2 inches of green mulch, while a 1.5-foot-tall bed will require 8-10 inches of it, etc.

             

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            Catherine Winter

            Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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            Last Updated on November 9, 2020

            10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

            10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

            Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

            Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

            Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

            If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

            Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

            1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

            Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

            Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

            Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

            2. No Motivation

            Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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            This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

            If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

            3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

            Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

            A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

            A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

            The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

            4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

            One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

            We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

            Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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            You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

            5. Upward Comparisons

            Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

            The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

            These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

            Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

            6. No Alternative

            This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

            Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

            Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

            Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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            7. Stress

            As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

            When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

            We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

            If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

            8. Sense of Failure

            People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

            Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

            Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

            If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

            9. The Need to Be All-New

            People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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            These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

            10. Force of Habit

            Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

            Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

            These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

            Final Thoughts

            These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

            There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

            More on Breaking Bad Habits

            Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
            [2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
            [3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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