Author Topic: Plans for garden - raised beds, compost bins, ideally a chicken coop or shed...  (Read 7028 times)

Kitsune

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Calling Mustachian-oriented woodworking gardeners!

We built a house last summer (aish... never again, swear to god) and are now moving into the landscaping, outdoor building, etc. I'm looking for workable plans for (1st priority) raised garden beds and compost bins, and (2nd priority) wood sheds and chicken coops. Any source of plans you'd recommend?

Ana White has a few plans that look decent in terms of compost bins (though we'd need something bigger, so we might do 2-3 of those in a row...), but my husband isn't convinced about the raised beds on that site and is dithering over the Lee Valley catalogue (whereas I'm having heart palpitations over the Lee Valley price tag...) Have any of you built something reasonable and solid and cheap and good and nice? Send a pic, link to plans, whatever works - I'd love to see what you've got, and-or any resources you think would be helpful!

MsPeacock

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Raised beds are pretty easy to do - I found videos on youtube on how to build them. It is just a box with the corners connected in some way. Nothing too complicated.

Compost bins are similar, or you can just have a compost "pile" and turn in every so often. If you have enough room you don't have to have a bin for compost at all. You want good air circulation, so you can use fencing of some sort (best plastic). Anything rottable that you use to build a compost bin will eventually rot (e.g. wood is not great). A couple cheap metal fence poles and plastic fencing (like deer netting, but heavier) will work for a compost bin.

I cheated and had someone build my chicken coop for me. There is a pretty active forum here:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/

with helpful advice on all aspects of chickening - you can probably find information on plans. People often post photos of their coops that they build themselves.

llorona

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I've noticed that Costco has pretty good prices on raised beds, especially considering that shipping and handling is included. Here's an example: http://www.costco.com/Gronomics-Raised-Garden-Bed.product.100082473.html

When we moved into a house in 2014, my brother built us raised four raised beds using decent wood from Home Depot, I think. Each one cost about $90. Even though they were a bit pricey, I'm pretty sure we've already recouped the value by growing our own vegetables and herbs. 

For a compost bin, I bought a $10 garbage can at Walmart and drilled air holes. I'd recommend having at least two bins going at the same time - that way, one of the bins can do its thing while you fill the other(s).

Altons Bobs

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I built our raised beds using Lowes youtube video instructions. I use 2x6 boards and the 4x4 posts and galvanized screws. Very easy to do. They always send us coupons, so I'd use those coupons to buy the boards. I wanted to do them myself because I wanted to use 2" boards, not the 1" sold in raised bed kits. Make sure you don't use any treated wood. I was told that cedar was a good choice, so that was what I used. I'm going to build 2 more this year.

Our compost bins are free from a green festival here years ago, so can't help you there. Don't know about chicken coop either, our HOA prohibits us from having chickens in the yard. Don't know about shed, we're going to hire someone to build a shed and a green house for us a few years from now.

Kriegsspiel

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Do you live in a temperate climate? There has been some cool stuff on Low Tech Magazine lately. Fruit Walls and "Chinese" Greenhouses.

The Guru

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You don't even NEED to frame in a raised bed- just till the garden then rake your soil into long "hills" for planting.

Likewise compost doesn't need to be contained, but you may find organizations that promote composting by giving away bins just for attending a composting seminar. My wife got a nice plastic commercial model that way; IIRC the seminar was free!

iris lily

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You don't even NEED to frame in a raised bed- just till the garden then rake your soil into long "hills" for planting.

Likewise compost doesn't need to be contained, but you may find organizations that promote composting by giving away bins just for attending a composting seminar. My wife got a nice plastic commercial model that way; IIRC the seminar was free!
Thank you guru. Timber or boards to makes beds are not ,always necessary.

As a guerilla gardener in an urban landscape, I have to say, just garden. Start simple go from there.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2016, 11:02:27 PM by iris lily »

JLR

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Does anyone worry about the wood being treated?

horsepoor

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I live in a dry environment, so YMMV, but I just used untreated fir from Lowe's and used some corner braces on the ends to tack them together.  Get them semi-level, fill with dirt and voila, raised bed in whatever dimensions you need.  Mine are around 5 years old and look like they'll last another 5.  I've also used some 8"x8" juniper timbers, and they're really nice and less likely to rot than fir, but not available everywhere.  They're heavy enough that I just put them in place and then drive some rebar in the ground on the outside every 4' or so to keep them from shifting from the dirt pushing them out from inside the bed.

Now last year I did get fancy wanting to make some hugelkultur beds and my dad helped me build some with galvanized roofing for sides.  I didn't use any plans for them though, just sketched out, measured, cut and put them together.  REALLY like these beds and if my regular beds ever give out, I might replace some of them with something more like this because they are taller, so easier to tend, and have a flat board on top that I can sit on while tending the plants.





Argh - well, I will try to post a photo of the coop later.  Photobucket isn't cooperating right now...

If you want to talk chicken coops, again, I don't have plans, but my dad helped me out and we built an awesome chicken coop that is 4x8' and was very efficient with the use of materials.  I keep 5-6 hens in it, and it's been perfect.  Nearly 100% happy with it after almost six years.  Here are some pics of my garden and coop:


MsPeacock

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Welp, now I want hugelkultur beds. Those look gorgeous. My summer project is to build raised bed for my front yard (on a very challenging slope) and install a fence to fend off the deer.

ozbeach

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I'm guessing deer don't jump -- I had kangaroo droppings in my front yard this morning, so presumably they hopped over the 1.5m high fence, munched on the grass and hopped out again!

The_path_less_taken

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backyardchickens.com has tons of free coop plans, tons of photos, everything you need to know about chickens.

no affiliation

I've never seen the bed photographed above but they look snazzy. You must not have jackrabbits where you are though, or they'd be taller.

Come to think of it, even wild rabbits on the west coast can jump that high: I used to have to wash their little 'raisenettes' out of the horse feeder in Oregon.

horsepoor

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No rabbits in the burbs.  Too many dogs.  Usually the intent of raising the bed isn't to keep animals out.  Birds are the biggest issue here, so I put netting over the beds as needed.

Hugelkultur just means that the bed is built over rotting wood, which acts like a sponge to reduce the need for watering.  I just did mine this way to further contain irrigation water.

MsPeacock

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I'm guessing deer don't jump -- I had kangaroo droppings in my front yard this morning, so presumably they hopped over the 1.5m high fence, munched on the grass and hopped out again!
Deer can jump a 6 or 8 foot fence. I don't know how they compare to kangaroos, but a 1.5 meter fence won't keep them out either.

Thegoblinchief

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Raised bed- unless you're right up against sidewalk or need a solid anchor for trellising, don't buy lumber sides at all. Soft-sided beds are easier to maintain and cost nothing. If you do build them, the easiest method is 3 2x6x8 boards (I personally find the 12" deep beds need too much extra dirt, 6" is plenty deep unless you have very gravelly soil underneath). Cut one of the boards in half. Screw the boards together with 3" galvanized screws.

Standard white wood, untreated is appropriate everywhere. Even in very wet climates like the PNW it's so much cheaper than the rot-resistant woods that even needing replacement faster, you're well ahead.

Compost - check with your municipality before building anything. Many, like mine, have very specific requirements about composting.

Chicken coop - also worth checking local laws first. We're going to use plans for one of the smaller coops from the Garden Coop company, modified to fit our local laws. Their plans+hardware kits are very economically priced and could save you money versus free plans, if you like the designs.

Jon_Snow

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Very timely post. I had just one wooden-sided raised bed in my first year garden last year...and I am so SOLD on it that I am probably going to build at least 4 or 5 more for 2016. The majority of my raised beds were simply raised mounds of soil "on the ground"...the problem was, the native grasses, not to mention weeds, were constantly invading from the perimeter. My wooden raised bed, where my tomotoes and peppers lived, were seemingly "above the fray"...I barely had to spend any time weeding this area. The one downside was that the wooden bed structure required more watering as compared to the ground level beds.

And hugelkultur...did one of these, sort of as a science experiment...and I look forward to the next several years as the wood rots to see what happens. My first hugelkulture bed, pictured below, was an "on the ground" bed last year...this year, I am going to put some raised cedar sides around it...to hep keep the vegatation at bay and increase the soil depth at the same time. I grew some pretty incredible bush beans (tri-colour) here last year...yum!







MayDay

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Raised bed- unless you're right up against sidewalk or need a solid anchor for trellising, don't buy lumber sides at all. Soft-sided beds are easier to maintain and cost nothing. If you do build them, the easiest method is 3 2x6x8 boards (I personally find the 12" deep beds need too much extra dirt, 6" is plenty deep unless you have very gravelly soil underneath). Cut one of the boards in half. Screw the boards together with 3" galvanized screws.

Standard white wood, untreated is appropriate everywhere. Even in very wet climates like the PNW it's so much cheaper than the rot-resistant woods that even needing replacement faster, you're well ahead.


Thats how I built mine.  HD and Lowes will even chop your boards in half for you, so all you need is a screwdriver and screws.  Takes an afternoon to make 'em all.

Chicken coop:  We used Ana White's A frame.  It was cheap to build which is why we picked it.  It is not a good forever design, but we don't know how long we will live here.  YMMV.  We are not super-duper handy and do not have a million tools, but we made it work. 

Compost:  My most succesful compost system is a 3 sided "fence" about 6 feet wide, 3 feet deep.  Throw all scraps on one side.  Periodically turn onto the other side.  When almost done, leave it on one side and start throwing new scraps on the other side.  Etc.  Kind of depends how much you think you'll be making. 


Kitsune

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Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I'm taking notes! :)

To a few points: we want raised beds with a side because I have hip and knee issues that mean that, while I CAN garden if I'm sitting on something, I can't be on all fours without paying for it later. Those galvanized metal ones look super great - wow, horsepoor! Seriously nice!

We're in Quebec. In our specific location, we have to assume a certain amount of rot and water damage (everything is under 2 feet of snow and at -20C November-end of April, and then in mud and rain until mid-June, and then in sunshine until September, and then back to mud and freezing... ... why do we live here again???) so metal might be a selling point in terms of longevity. Costco sells some reasonably-priced ones (about 20$ cheaper than building the same thing in wood, and delivered to your door...) but they're plastic or vinyl, which cracks in extreme cold, and I am NOT disassembling garden beds every year.

In the long run (pipe dreams, etc) I'm hoping for 6-8 regular garden beds, plus 2-3 that are small but can have cold frames on top, just for season extension. We obviously won't be growing anything in -20, but if I can get cabbage and kale and greenery for a few extra months and avoid the 25km trip to the grocery store (and associated aggravation, not to mention the RIDICULOUS price of vegetables right now, 3.50 for a bunch of kale and 4$ for a cabbage ARE YOU ALL MAD, deep breath, I'll fix this...) I'll be super happy.

Regarding the compost and chicken coops - municipal regulations don't really matter, since we're in the country (about a 20 minute drive to the nearest grocery store). The chicken coop will be next to the neighbour's sheep field, if that's any perspective... ;) We're also looking at adding sheep and goats within the next 5 years. If the municipality starts harping on about our composter, we have bigger issues...


horsepoor

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Oh yeah, compost.  For this I think it depends on the scale of your composting operation.  If you're just planning to compost a few kitchen scraps, then a couple small bins will do.  In a dry area like Boise, the plastic bins work better to retain moisture, but a more open design might be better in wetter areas. 

If you're upping your game to composting lots of leaves, scavenging additional material from off your property and so on, you might want to make some bigger bins.  For that, I made an 8' long bin divided into three sections and framed with 2x4's with 2"x4" wire mesh to hold everything in, and boards that slide in to the front side that slide out to access the compost for turning. Squirrels and mice get into this bin but it does keep the dogs out. 

Then there is my "slow burn" compost heap that isn't contained at all, behind the chicken coop.  This is where I put the tomato vines and other spent plants at the end of the growing season.  It will get some of the less clean dead leaves, some horse and chicken crap thrown on it periodically.  Then every year or two I rake the top off into a new pile and seive the lower part that has turned to soil and put the partially decomposed stuff on top of the new pile.  Works well if you have the space and don't put stuff in it that is attractive to animals.

Tom Bri

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I am more of a minimalist. I don't use a compost bin. I dig a hole in the garden and bury the material in layers. Everything goes in, paper, sticks, wood ash, kitchen garbage, fall leaves. Put in a layer, and cap it with an inch of dirt. When it gets full, cap it with several inches of dirt and plant on top. The hole starts out 2-4 feet deep, so you end up with a very deep layer of organic matter. Above-ground composting results in too much carbon loss.

Raised beds, for me, are more for convenience than anything. It makes weeding and harvesting easier, and reduces stooping. If you are in a wet climate or have poorly draining soil, it can also help by drying faster. I'd probably avoid raised beds in a dry climate. On my sloping back yard, I did make a partial bed, used tree trunks for the down-hill sides, a terrace effect.

Thegoblinchief

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Location - most important thing to know at first is the length of your frost-free season. Dave's Garden (don't think it works for Canada, but I'm sure there's an equivalent) has data about that from a weather station that's literally 2 miles away, so I can have some reasonable expectations for planning. Each year is different though and some of it is just going by gut.

With some crops, finding a specific cultivar that does well can make a big difference. I can't remember if Fortier gets that detailed in his Market Gardener book, but he definitely has some good tips that can be useful to a home scale gardener. Eliot Coleman also has some specific advice about varieties. In general, though, you can start off your seed search first by looking for "widely adapted" varieties or "widely grown in the North". Not sure how it works to ship seeds internationally, but Fedco (Maine) is a great source of information in their catalogs, even if you end up not being able to buy from them.

Beds - Okay, as long as you can source the dirt semi-cheaply, with hip and knee issues, you do want a taller bed. If 12" (.3m) is tall enough, 2x12x8 wood sides (or metric equivalent) aren't terribly expensive. You're talking ~$35 (US prices) of lumber plus about a cubic meter of soil. Down here that would run $40ish but you might be able to source well-rotted manure from neighbors?

I can email her but IIRC Erica (NWEdible) has been using whitewood raised beds in her super moist Seattle area garden for quite a few years. She's got some juniper and (maybe) cedar beds, but definitely thinks that whitewood results in the lowest total cost of ownership over time as long as you won't mind repairing them in 6+ years.

If you go the route horsepoor went, those galvanized beds are super cool. Harder to make. I know folks who've been able to find the metal cheaply by using discarded corrugated roofs. An advantage is that you can make the beds even taller.

A spendier route, but possibly sourceable used, would be to repurpose metal livestock watering tanks. There was a cool article I'd read a while back where the gardener used those because he/she was quite disabled, and this gave them a soil surface near waist high but plenty deep for even deeper-rooted plants.

Compost - you don't need to enclose the pile at all, but if you want to, recycled pallets can make a really simple 3-sided bin. My BIL did that and it's the route I would have gone if my city wasn't cray-cray.

katsiki

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Awesome info!  For those curious about the pallet compost bin, I found this: http://www.instructables.com/id/Pallet-Compost-Bin/?ALLSTEPS.  Can't wait to try it.

MrsPete

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You can build raised beds out of all sorts of stuff.  Personally, I'm interested in building some out of cinder blocks -- I happen to have about 50 of them that were left behind our shed, so it wouldn't cost much. 

I've seen pictures of them turned so that the "holes" are turned upwards like flower pots.  I'd plant my vegetables in the middle; that is, in the large bed I'd make -- and then I'd plant small flowers around the edge.  Marigolds keep away quite a few bugs.  Herbs would be good in those small pots too; you don't want to allow herbs to take over your yard.

BuffaloStache

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Great info in this thread- posting more to follow than anything else.

Rezdent

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You may want to consider that chickens + compost can be relational.  I would keep the compost pile on the cheaper/easier side until you get a good feel for size.

I kept two large compost piles going before we had chickens.  My gardens total about an acre.
We now have ~70 chickens...and no compost pile to speak of because chickens enjoy kitchen and garden waste.  There's little the chickens don't want (coffee grounds, occasional bones) - not enough to get hot.  I just distribute those things into the mulch around my trees.

I set aside the cleaning of chicken coop waste.  It's "hot" when fresh, and would take a lot of carbon to compost it, which I have trouble accumulating  (chickens eat it). I age it a few months and then out to the garden.

So I guess what I'm saying is that chickens ARE the compost makers for us.  If our garden was bigger or we had fewer chickens, we'd need to adjust the system.

Saskatchewstachian

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Posting to follow as I will be looking at building a raised garden next year, I really like the idea of both the metal roofing and the cinderblocks with flowers/herb around the edges.

tthree

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Horsepoor:  I want those bins!  New DH project for spring.

Here's a pick of the compost bins DH made.  Instructions found on the internet from Lowe's.  Mesh sides and top for air circulation.  Removable front slats make it easy to get compost out.



bognish

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For our raised beds I started with the 2"x10" joists from a deck we tore down. 8 feet long & 4' wide (3 boards each). I have a 12" length of 4x4 post in each corner to attach the boards to. The boards were under the deck for probably 15 years and have now been filled with dirt as raised beds for 6 summers.  They are still fine. I have added more since my original supply of used wood is gone, with 2"x10"x8' douglas fir boards from home depot. 3 of these boards will make an 8'x4' bed. Easy, cheap and should last 10 years untreated.  If you have to irrigate your garden, it is worth planning the irrigation at the same time you make the boxes. It took me a few tries & a few years to minimize over spray. Running an individual drip line to each plant works for some things like tomatoes, but when I tried it for smaller plants (lettuce, beets etc) it was a major pain in the ass.

For a compost I used 6 pallets. 2 screwed together for the back and one on each side. The 2 on the front are just kind of leaning up against the sides to keep stuff from blowing out.

Sean Og

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Horsepoor:  I want those bins!  New DH project for spring.

Here's a pick of the compost bins DH made.  Instructions found on the internet from Lowe's.  Mesh sides and top for air circulation.  Removable front slats make it easy to get compost out.



Nice job! Built this exact compost bin myself as few years ago.

BuffaloStache

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^ Ditto! Great looking project!