Somewhere to Grow Vegetables and Herbs

Go on… grow your own! With droughts and more expensive food, what makes better sense than to grow your own vegetable garden? Even allowing for the initial cost of making up one of these raised beds, they are very likely to pay themselves off sooner than you might think.

Growing your own food seems to be making more and more sense and no, we know a bed like this won’t allow you to give up giving to visit your local supermarket, but it will help meet your food needs. What’s more, the food you grow will be FRESH!

You can begin with one bed, and if you like, then make others… perhaps devoting one to herbs, another to carrots, another to onions… go wild, and grow your own!

Something else to remember… as the bed is on legs, you do not have to grovel around on your hands and knees when gardening… the plants are at a convenient height.

Project Guide:

TIME: 2 days
COST: R750 (cost can vary depending on the depth of the unit and size)
Skill: 2
Assistant: No

Tools required:

  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Router

Materials:

  • Treated timber:
    • 50×75 – two lengths each 2.7m;
    • 38×38 – one 3m length;
    • 69×22 SA Pine PAR slats – 1.83m – twenty lengths;
  • a 2mx2m square of 80% shade cloth (optional);
  • 2m of 250 micron plastic sheet;
  • 4m of 25mm irrigation pipe;
  • 40mm decking screws – 100;
  • potting soil – six bags*
  • *Note: all timber is treated timber and the number of bags of potting soil you will need will depend on the size you decide to make your herb/veggie garden.

**All materials are available at Selected Mica Stores. To find your nearest Mica and to enquire about availability, please go to www.mica.co.za, to use our store locator. If your local Mica does not stock exactly what you need they will be able to order or suggest an alternative product or a reputable source.

Method:

  1. The basic components, with the pipe still to be cut into the various lengths – four lengths of 500mm for the main frame and four lengths of 150mm for the legs.
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  3. Using two 40mm decking screws per slat, attach three of them to a corner piece – we used some 9mm Masonite offcuts as spacers for the slats. Then attach the adjacent slats to the corner piece – as shown here.
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  5. The completed box.
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  7. Now to add the base slat supports… measure between the 38×38 corner pieces.
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  9. Alternatively, you can place the one end against the far corner piece and mark off as shown.
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  11. Cut the base slat supports from your length of SA pine 38×38.
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  13. Clamp them firmly in position against the inner edge of the box.
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  15. Attach them firmly with at least six screws per slat, but using ten will not hurt… the supports will be holding up a reasonable weight of soil and delicious vegetables and herbs.
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  17. The box with the slat supports added.
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  19. Now for the base slats… measure them to fit snugly within the box.
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  21. Cut them as accurately as you can.
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  23. And attach them with one screw per end.
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  25. The base in place… how’s that for poetry?
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  27. Now for the legs… these are cut from the 50×75 timber and each is 770mm long – to provide a comfortable working height. Mark off a recess 22 x 225 x 55mm wide.
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  29. Fit your router with a straight bit and progressively rout the recess, increasing the depth with each pass by no more than 3mm or so.
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  31. The completed recess. We used a slat offcut clamped in position (as shown in the previous image) to ensure that the base of the recess would be straight.
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  33. This is how the leg with its recess fits on the corner of the box. Always do a dry fit first, to ensure that the fit is perfect.
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  35. Remember that the leg recesses are made with two on one side and the other two as mirrors of the other pair… as shown here.
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  37. Now simply clamp the legs in position and fix them to the box with five screws per leg.
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  39. The completed unit, ready to be filled. It is a good idea to position the unit exactly where you want it to remain… shifting it when it is full can be done, but why not avoid the schlep?
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  41. First, drape the 250-micron plastic sheet over the unit. We allowed for a generous overhang on all sides.
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  43. This is optional, but we then folded the shade cloth in four and placed as shown here. It will help protect the plastic from being punctured if anyone gets too zealous their trowel and it will also help contain the potting soil and prevent it from falling out through the drainage slits/holes (see below).
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  45. Fill the box with your potting soil – initially with about half the final amount of soil, ensuring that you fill the box to the corners and along each edge. We then watered it down a bit to help seat it properly. Then we added the rest of the soil.
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  47. You can trim the plastic sheet now, but ensure you leave a very generous amount along each edge.
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  49. Slit the 25mm irrigation pipe along its length (it had a thin line along its length, which made it easy to make a straight cut).
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  51. Cut the pipe into length long enough to run along the top edge as shown; open it and force it down, over the edge and clamping the top edge of the plastic sheet in place. Leave the soil to settle for a couple of days then grovel around under the box, carefully adding drainage slits between the slats every 300mm or so. Ensure that you make the slit/hole in the middle of the gap between the slats, so water will drain freely, without wetting the wood.
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  53. An illustration of the drainage hole position.
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  55. Leave the soil to settle for a couple of days then grovel around under the box, carefully adding drainage slits between the slats every 300mm or so. Ensure that you make the slit/hole in the middle of the gap between the slats, so water will drain freely, without wetting the wood.
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  57. 29. Now we just wait for Mother Nature to do her thing…
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