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Organic raised bed construction

I'm going to try my hand at a garden this year. I've done a ton of research and have decided on a raised bed. I want to do it organic, but am interested in being as frugal as possible. I've recently started composting. I am having a hard time with what to make the beds with. I have been looking at Grow Beds from Gardener's Supply, but I have to believe there is something less expensive out there! I'm up for a little work, especially if it will save me some money! Any suggestions?

Charlie MV
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Cypress found in you neck of the woods is cheap and will stand up to the elements for years.

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Ask for materials, and look at what people are offering, on any FreeCycle lists near where you live. Go to and do a search on your town, county, regional name, zip code, or whatever makes sense to see what's out there.

There are very few rules on FreeCycle, but ironclad is that there are NO cash transactions, ever. Also: everything must be "family friendly"--no alcohol, risque materials, etc. Gardening is *certainly* family friendly! :D

I got my cinder blocks and much of the wood last year to make my raised beds/Square Foot Gardens. I have a mix of pine shelving and 2x12's now.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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raised beds

there's a whole recent thread on raised beds under the Vegetable Gardening forum. I described mine which I love which are made of 4" X 4" fence posts stacked. The fence posts are not free, but they are very cheap and the boxes made this way last forever. More detail in my earlier post.

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I agree with cynthia. Freecycle is great I would just stay away from anything that was pre treated because a few years ago they really used some nasty chemicals in that stuff. That's the cheep way.

I did mine like rainbowgardener. Took some 4x4 fence post and stacked them 3 high.

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Everyone here has good ideas.
I see no reason you need to spend one cent on your raised beds.
If you wants frames(not necessary in the beginning or ever) for your raised beds, you can usually find free rocks to stack for the frames. Try logs or discarded fire wood, this can bring ants and termites.
Free Cycle can be helpful to get some free framing lumber or cement blocks. Ask neighbors or family and friends.
New construction sites have a wealth of discarded materials, or dumpster diving at the lumber yard can turn up a few pieces of wood. In the city there are always dumpster at the renovation sites.

IMO, you don't need to spend any money on what you fill the beds with and be totally organic.
You can; Peel off the grass or just put down a heavy layer of paper to stop the grass from growing up through.
Then put down a heavy layer of compost,
Then top off with any dirt. Actually you can dig it out of another part of the yard.
You may not be able to get deep root crops to grow in this the first year, but many of the shallower veggies will grow just fine. I usually do bush beens and green onions. The second year most anything can be grown there.

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