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Just because you are growing your own food does not mean that you will save money! It’s easy to drop hundreds – if not thousands – on a beautifully landscaped garden. If your goal is to save money, you’ll want to consider ways of keeping your gardening costs down. Here at The Coupon Project, I’m interested in methods of frugal gardening.
Raised bed gardening is a popular method of growing vegetables and herbs, and it can be a spendy venture – depending on the types of materials you’re opting to use. But there are ways to build a raised bed garden without breaking the bank, and I’m here to show you how.
Why I love Raised Beds!
First, let’s answer the question “Why raised beds?” Here are some of the benefits of doing so:
- It’s easier to control the soil. You can start with fresh soil or soil mix of your choice! By raising the bed, you also keep the soil from getting stepped on and compacted. Your soil also may heat up faster, improving germination rates.
- It’s easier to tend your plants. You don’t have to bend all the way over to deal with weeds or to harvest your greens. Some people even raise the beds high enough to accommodate gardeners in wheelchairs or physical disabilities.
- It’s fun to plan the layout and keep certain plants contained. I find it’s easy and fun to plan what I’m going to grow and where. Also, plants that may spread too quickly (such as mint!), can be more easily contained.
- It’s a great introduction for beginning gardeners. If you’re not sure you want to go farm-style on your backyard, you can easily set up a small raised bed on toward the back near your fence, or even on your patio! You can start small with just one or two beds, and build more later if you choose. You can also create beautiful custom shapes using the raised beds and a number of materials.
I have loved having raised beds in our garden! They’ve worked so beautifully for my family and I’ve been able to grow just about anything you can imagine in them including raspberries, tomatoes, corn, kale, chard, beans, peas, carrots, parsnips, cucumbers, garlic, quinoa, and even spaghetti squash!
Simple Ideas for Inexpensive Raised Beds
My husband and I built our raised beds ourselves and I need to be honest with you, we did spend some money. I’m a firm believer in selecting materials that are safe for growing food and we decided on cedar. All told, I would imagine we spent several hundred dollars to set up our custom 7-container raised bed garden including tool rental, tools, lumber, and soil, and installing irrigation (which we’ve yet to finish setting up). I do think we saved money in that we did all the work ourselves and it’s been money well spent for the food and enjoyment the garden has given us!
I say that to be completely upfront and honest with you, but I also don’t want to discourage you, because there are DEFINITELY ways you can do this for less money than we did! Here are a few of my favorite ideas for inexpensive raised beds:
Idea #1: Build your own
(Photo credit: Ana-White.com)
If you are looking to build your own raised beds and are a bit handy, I highly recommend the site Ana-White.com! Not only does she break it down for you, she has FREE pdf instructions including a materials list. The above photo is from her $10 Raised Bed post. Yes, she is insisting you can do this for $10! Honestly, I’d be a bit surprised if one could do that after the lumber and hardware involved, but regardless, you should save a ton of money following her handy instructions.
Search Ana’s site and you’ll find no shortage of additional raised bed and garden planter options. Highly, highly recommend.
#2: Grow Bags
There are a couple different options when it comes to growing your food in grow bags.
This highly-rated Big Bag Bed (sold on Amazon) will set you back between $20-30 (depending on the size you choose). The benefit of this set up is that there are no tools or additional materials involved. Just buy, spread it out, fill with dirt and grow! In the photo above, you can see we are using a Big Bag Bed to grow our strawberries this year. (You can read more about this method at my post on the Big Bag Bed.)
Even less expensive, you can grow food in burlap sacks. These would be good for one season only and at the end of summer, just compost the bags! These would be more of a container method than a true raised bed, but I feel it’s worth mentioning. (For more on this unique, eco-friendly method, see my post Growing Food in Burlap Sacks.)
#3: Buy a Kit
I am hearing really good things about some of the small raised bed kits available! Many of these don’t even require the use of tools!
This Greenland Gardener kit from Home Depot, for example, is currently priced at $21.98. It boasts easy assembly and no tools required! Even better, you can stack or expand it with additional kits to make a larger and/or deeper growing space. (Incidentally, if you’re interested in this particular product, it’s rated quite well! Make sure to read the comments to see how purchasers have used and configured it for their garden. You can also ship to store to save on shipping costs.)
#4: Concrete Raised Beds
Here’s an idea I’m seeing more of, and am digging: using concrete blocks!
(Image from: VegetableGardener.com)
You can head over to VegetableGardener.com for more information on how to do this. I like this idea as I imagine it would hold up a bit longer than wood. You could also omit “capping” the tops of the blocks and instead, filling with them with dirt. This way, you can plant herbs or flowers around the border.
I also want to mention pallets… I know they are wildly popular right now, but I’m on the fence about their use in the home garden. If you’re looking at going this route, I’d encourage you to see if you can learn more first on how the wood was treated (if at all), and how you might best clean it up first.
I would love to hear additional ideas for how one might save on the expense of building raised beds!
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