Friday, June 14, 2013

Raised Beds

Several years ago I made a straw bale garden, basically as a how-to for someone with limited mobility or even wheel-chair bound. It was pretty successful for growing vegetables, but I didn't repeat it due to all the weed seeds in the bales. I fought those damned weeds for 3+ more years.

About the same time, I saw an ad in the local paper for free small Japanese cedar shipping crates and I picked up about a dozen. My plan was to dismantle them and use the cedar slats for a chicken house, but taking just one apart was a nightmare. They used so many staples in the construction that much of the cedar split when taking one apart, and the wood was not useable except as kindling. 

The remaining crates have been just sitting in a stack at the end of the driveway for several years. 

Since my health has diminished, I finally decided to cut the crates down and use them for raised beds and make gardening/weeding a bit easier on this old woman.

This is the start of my small raised beds made from those Japanese cedar boxes. I'm still debating whether to put the cut-off tops in another row or two since they are the same size. I could nail the lids back on the tops and invert them so they'd all have bottoms but if I do, those would sit directly on the ground and perhaps rot sooner. (Not that that's a problem.) The bottom pieces (shown in the pics above) have 2x4's as part of the support under them, probably to make them easier to move with a forklift when they were full of car parts.

The bags and containers sitting in the crates are amendments (organic compost, worm castings, Greensand, Azomite, CalPhos, etc.) that I will add when I get a load of topsoil. The single crate with dirt already in it is lined with hardware cloth (welded wire mesh) and planted with sweet potato slips. I'm not sure that box is deep enough for root vegetables though, but I didn't have enough hardware cloth for one of the deeper boxes I cut specifically for root veggies.

All the boxes will get lined with fiberglass screening to keep most of the dirt from filtering out through the gaps in the slats. 

I have a few more crates sitting around that I can use if necessary to expand the raised bed area... some are on the front porch holding paper to start fires, kindling, and firewood. Keeps the porch looking less messy!

There is a mfg. plant about 40 miles up the road that imports rack and pinion parts from Japan, and they are shipped here in those crates. When I moved here in 2006, the crates were free and I got a bunch. I understand they now charge $10 for them.

Actually, getting two small raised beds out of one $10 crate is pretty cheap. I doubt I could buy the lumber for $10.


  1. One of those crates, or maybe 3 or 4, would be great for growing sweet potatoes. They grew very well here, and the mice kindly left me 3 of the dozens of huge ones that grew. A hardware cloth lined crate would fix their wagon. :))

    No car plants anywhere near here though....

  2. Ooohh Looking forward to seeing those when you get them all planted!

  3. This looks like a great (crate?) idea! When mom started to have a hard time dealing with her garden, my dad and I built her a long very raised bed out of leftover lumber and filled it with layers of good soil-building stuff. The final bed is 2.5 feet tall and 4x24 feet wide and long. It's freakin' huge and took many many truckloads of different stuff to fill it up. It also outproduces the entire old garden (about a 24x24 square of good healthy soil) and requires less watering and weeding. Raised beds are definitely awesome but I don't think I'd ever deliberately build one that big again.


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