Building Raised Beds – High Tunnel Gardening

Building Raised Beds – High Tunnel Gardening

Building Raised Beds

We’ve been building raised beds for the high tunnel. They’re simple to put together, rather plain looking but efficient. Gardening is a marathon this year, not a sprint. I’m not sprinting from season to season to grow enough food, not this year and maybe not ever again. There are ten beds in the high tunnel, about 320 square feet of growing space, and only two of us to feed. I think once we’re done building raised beds, filling them, and amending the soil (that’s a story for another day), we’ll have more space than we need.

I’ve had to pull out plants that were still producing moderately well in late summer or early fall to amend the soil and plant for the fall and winter. With ten beds I think I’ll be able to leave the plants in as long as the temperatures allow. I’ll use other beds for fall and winter crops.

building raised beds, high tunnel, how to build raised bedsSteve cut the end pieces and I put the frames together. The corner posts are 4″ x 4″s. Two 8″ boards total 15.5″ in height because an 8″ board isn’t 8″ wide. It’s a new math thing. Remember “new math?” If so, you’re probably at least as old as me. Anyway.  We’re going with 15″. I knew I wanted two frames that are 15″ tall so that I can grow carrots and other long roots. Steve made the corner posts 15″ for all of the frames with the exception of one. We didn’t want to buy another piece to cut four sections. It’s a short bed and will be used for greens. Two raised beds are 15″ now and the rest can be by simply screwing the new boards on.

Supplies for a 4′ x 8′ x 7″ Raised Bed Frame

For one 4′ x 8′ x 7″ high frame you need three 1″ x 8″ x 8′ boards, four 7″ long 4″ x 4″ posts, and eight 3″ wood screws.

I screwed the end boards into the 4″ x 4″‘s on the back of my truck to cut down on the amount of bending I’d have to do. The raised beds are to alleviate some of the wear and tear on my bad back.

One short raised bed, below. (NOTE: The beds pictured here are not yet full of soil.)

building raised beds, corner postThat’s probably a volunteer seedling from a cross between Juliet tomato and Jet Star tomato in the bottom right corner.

building raised beds, corner posts, high tunnelLook closely and you’ll see the screws on the front and side of the frame. They’re 3″ wood screws. The frames are solid.

An 8′ board is cut in half to make the end pieces. It takes seven or eight minutes to put the frame together. Later,  we’ll add the top boards but for now this is fine.
raised bed frame, building raised bedsMaking raised beds is the easy part. Filling them takes a lot more time, energy and muscle, mostly because the tractor hasn’t been fixed yet. I’ll show you what we’re working with soon.

Do you use raised beds? We’d love to take a look at them if you have them in your blog. Please feel free to leave a link in the comments.

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Building raised beds for the high tunnel was the second project in the garden this year. The raised beds will allow the soil to warm earlier in the spring. I'll cover each bed with a low tunnel for added warmth each winter.

5 thoughts on “Building Raised Beds – High Tunnel Gardening

  1. I have five galvanized 3’x5′ raised beds from Sportsman’s Guide that are about 18″ high and two we made from some steel barn siding with steel window well frames for the end. They’re about 2-1/2′ and 11′ and 24″ high. They work wonderfully and I start things out with fabric row covers using PEX plumbing tubing for the rib supports. I can plunk my little canvas folding stool between the beds and my 60+ yr. old back really appreciates that!

    1. I got some galvanized ones from Sportsmans Guide this year too! They are great and I’lll probably get some more next year. I’ve also turned two leaky galvanized water troughs into raised beds

      1. I find the two big ones need to be watered more often but I did bury soaker hoses into all of them. One connection waters the two big ones – 3 hoses in each going the long way and one connection waters the five smaller ones – each with 3 hoses going the long way. They’re calling for highs in the 90’s here in east central Wi. for the next 5 or 6 days so that will tell. With well composted manure from 3 equines, 2 goats a kune kune pig and a few chickens as well as regular kitchen/garden waste compost and peat moss added in it’s pretty nice soil.

        1. I should put soaker hoses back in next year. I had them when I grew on flat ground. Was it hard to run them without having water dripping between the beds?

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