Building a Semi-Raised Bed

I want more raised beds but at the moment I don’t have the time or materials to do that. My idea is to build a semi-raised bed and then later I can put a wall around it and keep adding materials as they become available.

I want the base to be well turned and soft. No foot traffic after starting. I’ll need a 3 foot aisle on either side for access with a wheelbarrow. I’m making the bed about 4 feet wide.

First I measure so the bed is exactly where I want it to be. I drive a steel pipe into the ground at each end where the center of the bed will be. Then I can stretch a string to keep me on course.

Now we need to clear any vegetation that has roots. I’m not too worried about weed seeds because the mulch will stop them from germinating. Using a light hoe, I clear the bed and rake it with a leaf rake.

Now for the workout. Using a heavy hoe, I break up the ground 5 to 6 inches deep being careful not to pack it down with my feet. Thankfully this is the last time I will need to break up this soil. From now on, I will simply add more leaves and mulch which will break down into nutrients to feed our crop.

My dirt is pretty rich but i want this garden to really produce so I’m adding 2 inches of cow manure. (I have a friend who has cows.) On top of the manure, I’m putting a layer 6 – 8 inches deep of oak leaves, pine straw and decayed leaves that I dug out of the woods nearby. This forest floor has a really thick layer of leaves that is so soft it is difficult to walk on.

The last step is to line the perimeter with logs. This will define the beds, help hold the mulch in and keep people out. Now I can let it rest until time to plant or transplant. I plan to do some vertical gardening so in thos areas, I will add a trellis in the center and still plant non vertical plants at the front.