I hear this a lot: “I want to start a vegetable garden, but it costs too much money! The raised bed kits in the catalogs are $70. And that’s just for the bed, not the soil or plants!”
You don’t need to spend all that money for a few pieces of wood. For $25, you can build a raised bed vegetable garden WITH plants and grow enough food to make your money back in no time.
Here’s what you need for the raised bed. (Prices accurate as of 4/9/14 at Home Depot. Your mileage may vary.) If you already have fence boards, stakes, or nails, invest in a few more bags of steer manure to enrich your soil.
3, 6-foot cedar fence boards $1.50 each: $4.50
2 in. x 2 in. x 24 in. grade stake (6-pack): $5.47
1 box of 35, 2” nails: $1.30
2 bags of steer manure @ $1.37 each: $2.74
Why cedar? Other fence boards are cheaper, but cedar stands up to weather and will last you for a couple of years at least. If you get cheaper fence boards you’ll need to replace them more often. Have the folks at the home store cut one board in half to make the ends of the raised bed.
You’ll need a friend to help with the assembly. Put the pieces together on a flat surface so the garden box sits flat when you’re done. (Ask me how I know.) Hold the fence boards together with the stake sticking up. Nail the corner securely with the stake for extra support. Lather, rinse, and repeat until all four corners are done.
Take the assembled box out to your perfect, sunny spot. Dig up the soil and mix in the steer manure. Sink the stakes into the ground and smooth out the soil. Now you’re ready to plant!
This is the fun part. Pick out seeds (or plants) to fill up your garden bed. Here are a bunch of ideas that will keep your budget at $25.
Colorful vegetable garden
Tricolor bush beans: $2.79
Rainbow chard: $2.79
Easter egg radish: $2.79
Tricolor zucchini mix: $2.99
4” tomato plant: $2.25 (it’s too late in the year to start from seed)
Tomato cage: $2.95
4” jalapeno pepper plant: $2.25
6-pack strawberries: $3.50
Three flavor melons: $2.99
Green smoothie garden
Catalina baby spinach: $2.79
Lacinato heirloom kale: $2.79
Jericho romaine lettuce: $3.79
If you want more plants but need to stay under budget, ask your gardening friends or family for extra seeds or plants. Most of us get carried away at seed-starting time and end up with more plants than space!
Need extra help starting your garden? My favorite book for beginning gardeners is Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.