Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
This is a guest post and entry in Round 2 of the Farm Dreams writing contest. The prizes for this round include:
Door #1: A Travel Royal Berkey Walter Purification system from Directive 21. Valued at $228!
Door #2: Two
Super Survival Seed packs from Seed for Security. Valued at $150!
Door #3: A 164' roll of electric
poultry netting from Kencove. Valued at $140!
Door #4: A
60 serving entree pack of emergency food from MyFoodStorage.com. Valued at $119!
Door #5: A $100 gift certificate from
Baker Creek Seeds! Valued at $100.
Round 2 ends began May 7 and ends July 7 so GET BUSY WRITING and
email your entry to us today!
I like a tidy garden and raised beds are perfect, but the cost of building them, even if you do it yourself, is prohibitively high for me. So, here is how I built my raised beds and how my neighbor built his, all on a budget.
The first beds I built were on the shallower side, but since they were open bottomed it worked fine. As with any project where you want to save money and reuse things, you have to start early.
I started at yard sales. Every Friday on his way to or from work, my husband would stop at sales and buy up random assortments of screws - they usually were sold as a mix of odds and ends in an old jar.
Next, I watched our local version of Craigslist, as well as the newspaper ads, and found a small home-mill operation that was selling cedar fence board rejects at a great price. These boards were ones that had bits of bark on them or were a little thinner on one end - minor aesthetic defects, but perfect for my raised beds.
Since they were fence boards, they came in 6 foot lengths, which was perfect to cut in half and have 3 foot wide beds - no waste!
For corner posts, I really scored. On my way back from the recycling center, I took a short detour and found a small mill that specialized in cedar lumber. I also saw a large pile of scraps sitting outside near a dumpster. I stopped in for chat. They said any scraps in the pile or in the dumpster were free for the taking. So, I loaded up the truck with scraps and headed home. I had plenty of 2x4 pieces for the corner posts and used the smaller scraps for kindling that winter.
I realize that not everyone lives in a timber area like I do, but there are other materials available for raised beds too - like field stones. My rhubarb bed is bordered by stacked stones I pulled out of the rest of the garden area and it works and looks great.
My neighbor is an older gentleman and needed sturdier beds so that his wife could sit on the edges while she gardened. He also needed to rebuild his old deck. He carefully deconstructed his deck and reused the boards when building his raised beds. Now he had some money to spend on a new deck, but the idea got me thinking about how many other people in the area might be rebuilding decks and might like a volunteer to tear out the old one for them.
Making sure neighbors know what you are looking for is a great way to scavenge free materials - itʼs how I got all the old red bricks for the path through my flower garden and how I got the free pavers that make up the little raised border around my front flower beds. I volunteered to help, spent an enjoyable afternoon working and chatting and came home with expensive pavers for free.
Another way to spread out the costs when starting with raised beds, is to sheet mulch or double dig under them so that they can start shallow and grow up as you collect more materials or more money. *Having beds with open bottoms allows moles and other critters access to your produce though. Hardware cloth is great on the bottom, but is very spendy. We take the risk and make sure the dog patrols the garden daily - if he digs up a carrot now and then on the hunt, but keeps all the other critters out, I figure it's a good trade.
Other good resources for scavenging lumber are neighbors redoing siding or board fences and local contractors who will let you collect trash from their building sites.
A few more money saving tips for new raised bed gardeners.
The keys to scavenging and saving money on any project are to plan ahead, allowing plenty of time to gather materials, and to talk to your neighbors and community members. Many people have things lying around that they see as trash, but may be exactly what you are looking for. One woman's stinky manure is another woman's black gold.
Plus you may meet some wonderful new friends and mentors while you are volunteering your labor - deconstructing a deck, pulling up an old brick patio, or shoveling out the chicken coop. Living in the country is about helping neighbors, building community, and sharing your bounty.
Make a comment!