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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 December 2, 2019

            10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

            10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

            Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

            In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

            These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

            1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

            Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

            But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

            Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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            2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

            You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

            The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

            3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

            If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

            Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

            If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

            4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

            Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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            To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

            In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

            5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

            We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

            If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

            Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

            “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

            6. Give for the Joy of Giving

            When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

            One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

            So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

            7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

            Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

            Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

            8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

            When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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            So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

            9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

            Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

            It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

            It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

            10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

            There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

            But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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            Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

            More About Living a Fulfilling Life

            Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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