Edibles with Ease: When to Get Growing from Seeds or from Starts? Read more »
In my side yard which is mostly shade, I have tried a variety of perennials that thrive in a woodland setting. Read more »
Make your garden even more welcoming to birds and butterflies: turn it into a certified wildlife habitat. Read more »
The StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower combines patent-pending technology with superior ergonomics to deliver best-in-class cutting perf... Read more »
Keep your lawn and your shoes clean and free of clippings by adding our innovative, sturdy Grass Catcher to your StaySharp™ Ree... Read more »
The Salsa Rain Barrel System makes it easy to collect up to 58 gallons of water for your garden and lawn. Our rain barrel is ma... Read more »
Make the most of National Craft Month by preparing some craft kits for your children - let them explore color, texture and dif... Read more »
This is the second how-to in a series focused on getting the most out of your basic paper punches. Read more »
Spring brings in the most wonderful colors and here is a fun way to add a touch of color to your gifts! Read more »
Our ProCision™ Rotary Bypass Trimmer features a unique dual-rail system that stabilizes the rotary blade, eliminating wiggle fo... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of crafting and mixed media tasks, our Amplify® Mixed Media Shears sense blade separation and force th... Read more »
Add distinctive style to craft projects of all kinds with a Squeeze Punch that makes every embellishment up to 2X easier to pun... Read more »
My idea is to show everyone that they can make something cute and fashionable without spending a lot of money. Read more »
Embellishing a plain shirt using a reverse appliqué technique is easy - and your kids will love their personalized outfit! Read more »
This year, it seems like spring is way overdue at our house. Read more »
Perfect for tight, precise cuts, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force the blades back togethe... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of sewing and quilting tasks, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force t... Read more »
Perfect for users with larger hands or anyone who needs to make long cuts through multiple layers, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabr... Read more »
I always look forward to school being out for the summer (more so than my children, probably!) and the change of pace means we... Read more »
This fun project is a great way to send a little love note to your child. These lunchbox notes can be slipped into a backpack... Read more »
Here is a fun craft for St. Patrick’s Day that is not only adorable, it makes kids stop and think about how lucky they are. Read more »
Children love our Blunt-tip Kids Scissors for the handle that’s shiny, bright and smooth, not “sticky” or “bumpy.” Teachers and... Read more »
Our Big Kids Scissors take the basic design of our teacher-recommended Kids Scissors and enlarge them for kids that are a littl... Read more »
Our Student Scissors are larger than our Kids Scissors but smaller than adult scissors, perfect for those older children who ar... Read more »
Introduced to the world as a quality fabric scissors, the Original Orange-Handled Scissors redefined the standard for cutting p... Read more »
The first time you try our PowerGear® Super Pruner/Lopper, you’ll be amazed — but it’s not magic, it’s gears. Our patented gear... Read more »
Our Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter with a 45 mm blade makes cutting a wide variety of quilting materials comfortable and easy. A cu... Read more »
Don't miss your chance to win a complete prize pack valued at nearly $200!
Community gardens aren’t just allotments — they’re urban farms, great places to share gardening skills and crops.
Keep all of your tools performing at their best.
His faith in me exceeded the reality of my gardening abilities so over time he's worked with me to make the garden more manageable. I went from frustrating days of being near tears over never-ending weed pulling to a garden that requires only about 15 minutes a week to weed. Not only is my time spent weeding greatly reduced, the soil I'm working in now is so fabulous, instead of the need to grasp a weed with both hands and dig my heels in on either side before yanking, I can pull most of them with a thumb and 2 fingers.
The cure for my gardening woes was raised beds. By confining my growing area to wood boxes measuring around 10 foot x 4 foot, the surface area I was gardening may have been greatly reduced but I saw a significant increase in my vegetable production. This is because, with raised beds, you have control over the composition of the soil that goes into them. You control the texture of it and the nutrients in it through your choice of what and how much of each soil ingredient you use.
There are many ways to build raised beds. You can use a variety of materials to create the barriers (such as cinder blocks, rocks, or wood lumber) that will confine the soil to the area you choose. Our first raised beds were old recycled tire tractors that we're gradually replacing!
There are also kits available for purchase to help you build your beds. There are kits that include prefabricated plastic walls. There are kits that include lumber cut in such a way that assembly requires only pins provided in the kit; no tools or screws are necessary. You can also purchase specialized brackets to make the job easier. While these are all great options, for those working within a the constraints of a small budget or who plan to build a lot of beds, they may not be the right option.
My husband built our first beds about 5 years ago and we've added a few new ones each year. In all he's constructed 13 beds. To keep our garden cost-effective, we use lumber and lag bolts.
Our lumber of choice is 2 inch x 12 inch white oak. We purchase boards in 10 foot lengths from a local Mennonite saw mill which is less expensive than buying from lumber yards. White oak weathers very well so it doesn't deteriorate as quickly as some other woods.
When constructing your own beds, you have the freedom to make them as long and wide as you want. We have a variety of sizes of beds in our garden, determined by the space available in each area, but the beds I'll share today each required three 10 foot long boards. Two of the boards were left uncut. The third was cut in half to make two 5 foot long end boards.
We purchase 5/16 inch lag bolts and a washer to go with each one. The lag bolts are 3.5 inches long.
Two pilot holes are pre-drilled at the end of each long board, near the top and bottom of the board, 7/8 inch from the end. These pilot holes prevent the board from splitting along the grain when the screw end of the bolt passes through it. They also help prevent the lag bolts from breaking.
After reading the next step, your basic math calculations may tell you that drilling the pilot holes 7/8 inch in from the end of the long boards will not land the holes in the center of a 2 inch thick piece of lumber. The truth is the 2 inch thick lumber you purchase is actually only 1 3/4 inch thick after it's been run through a planer to smooth its surfaces. So 7/8 inch it is!
The boards are then aligned by butting the end of the side boards up to the pilot holes on the long boards. The pilot holes should rest over the center of the end of the short boards. Holes are then pre-drilled into the short boards using the earlier drilled pilot holes in the long boards as a guide.
The lag bolts are inserted into the pilot holes and tightened down using a socket wrench. The bolts are tightened down just until flush with surface of the board because white oak is so hard and dense, too much torque on the bolts can cause them to break.
At this point, you can attach a wire mesh material to the bottom of the bed to prevent moles from finding their way into your beds and wreaking havoc.
When researching building raised beds, you will find there are a lot of opinions on the best way to build them. It is common to read that you should not attach the boards by running a screw straight through the side board and into the end grain of the short board, as we do, because the screws will not hold over time. Another belief is the corners of the bed are not structurally sound. Many people use corner brackets to hold the boards together or run another short length of board vertically in each corner, screwing the side and end boards into these rather than into one another. This photo shows the corner of one of our beds that is 5 years old. The boards still fit together as snugly and the integrity of the corners is as sound as the day it was built. The white oak boards have not warped or decomposed and, while using brackets or wood braces work too, this method of connecting the boards has worked fine for us.
Once completed, we filled out new beds with partially composted cow manure. Overfilling them slightly allows for continued decomposition over the winter. Next spring, when I'm ready to plant my tomato plants in these new beds, the soil level should be perfect!
Our total cost, per bed, is a little over $100. Considering the number of beds we have and the large size of them, building them ourselves using lumber from a sawmill has resulted in a significant savings over purchasing a raised bed kit or purchasing lumber from a lumber yard. When researching raised bed options that fill your own needs, if your final decision is to make them yourself, consider trying to locate a local sawmill from which to purchase your materials.