Large box garden build

Author: Ansel Robateau 9/1/2020

My family loves vegetables

It is a family tradition that we started when our kids were young. We had a nice house in the suburbs outside of Chicago with lots of sun and a nice big yard. So we built a garden in the backyard beside the fence and grew tomatoes and squash. Our kids learned about plants and we enjoyed picking those tomatoes in the fall.

As our ambitions grew, we expanded to a community garden and planted even more vegetables. We expanded into carrots and green peppers, watermelon and zucchini. It was difficult keeping the plants hydrated but it gave us good family memories.

A few years later, we moved closer to the city of Chicago and no longer had access to that much land. We gave up gardening for a few years while the kids settled into school. However, that itch never went away. So I decided to do something about it.

I had built a small raised garden bed once before and it was successful. However, I wanted to build something that was big enough for us to grow a variety of vegetables and recapture the joy of gardening. So I started looking at what was out there for inspiration. Our new home closter to the city also had its own challenges. The yard space was smaller and we had lots of rabbits in the neighborhood. I also wanted to make the garden high enough so that my wife would have an easy time gardening without having to bend over. In the end, I came up with a design that was easy to build and was strong enough to hopefully last many years.

Here’s how I did it.

Start with a sturdy frame that supports a standard 4ft x 8ft sheet of plywood. The corners of the frame are attached using lengths of 1in x 1in wood that serve as a portion of the legs of the boxed garden.

Connect the frame to the plywood using the deck screws and attached the first part of the legs. The legs are connected on the inside of the edges as shown in this diagram.

Complete the legs by screwing additional pieces of the 2in x 2in wood to the existing base to create a 4in x 4in leg. One side extends above the base to a height to above 12in higher than the plywood.

Attach two blanks of 1in x 6in wood to create the walls of the garden bed.

Drill 4 small holes equally distant from each other such that you can insert half inch PVC piping about 1 inch long.

Lay plastic sheeting inside of the garden bed to protect the wood from the wet soil. This prevents premature deterioration.

Staple the edges of the plastic sheet to the inside of the box.

Flatten the plastic sheet on the bed and poke holes in the center of the holes that were drilled.

Using a hammer, tap half inch diameter pvc pipes that are one inch long into the holes pinching the plastic so that it forms a tight seal around the pipe and the inside of the hole. This forms the drains.

Be sure to mark the locations accurately so that you will not create undue tension to the sides of the plastic sheet and that you do not create leaks.

Lay a bed of dry leaves and brush covering the base of the garden bed. This supports drainage of the soil so that extra moisture will eventually go into the holes that have been created.

Add a mixture of top soil, garden soil and peat moss to the garden bed.

With a minimum of 6 inches of soil, you are ready to start planting.