Building Raised Gardens for CP's


Building a raised bed is pretty simple.  The hardest part is making the wooden frame, but I found that to be fairly easy also.  I assembled my frames in my garage and used a two wheel dolly to move them to their permanent home.  However, you could easily cut the boards and assemble the frame at your garden spot.  Below are the "blueprints" for the raised bed frame, but you could change the lengths of the boards to accommodate whatever size bed you want.  I bought 8 foot boards and then made one cut to give me the 6 and 2 foot pieces I needed.

I spent some extra money and used good quality deck screws to build the frame.  Using screws will allow me to easily remove boards from the sides in the future for easier replanting and maintenance.  

Once the frame was assembled and set in place, I prepped the inside for filling.  To protect plants from burrowing varmints, I covered the ground inside the frame with hardware cloth.  Next, I lined the sides and bottom with plastic.  I normally would have used 6 mil plastic, but I found a great deal on plastic woven tarps at Ollies and used those.  Using a staple gun, I worked the tarp around the inside of the frame and stapled it in place.  I trimmed all the slack from the tarp around the upper edge about three inches from the top.  Lastly, I used a knife to cut a few drainage holes in the bottom of the plastic liner.  You don't want the raised bed to completely fill with water!

Next comes filling! I mixed sphagnum peat moss and play sand to make my growing medium (about a 60/40 ratio). I used a wheelbarrow to mix mine but if you are careful not to damage your liner, you can mix the soil inside the raised bed frame.  While mixing, I added water in with the peat and sand to get everything good and moist.  Be warned, mixing this stuff is exhausting!  I was sore for a few days afterwards, but it must have been good exercise.  One mistake I made was how "un-full" I filled the bed.  I stopped about two inches from the top, which looked good at the time. However, after a few months of settling and compacting, the soil level dropped about another inch, exposing some of the liner in some places.  So, for future references, put a little more dirt in your raised bed than you think you'll need.

Once the bed was full, I began planting.  I knew I wanted mainly Sarracenia in my beds, but there is more to think about than just sticking plants in there.  Did I want to put all white top pitchers in one bed and flava's in another?  Or did I just want to mix them all up?  I went with the second approach, and I have to say I'm very pleased.  Sarracenia of different species put on their best show at different times of the year. So by planting different varieties together, I have a beautiful new show of colors, shapes, and sizes every few weeks.

You probably noticed the blue pipe along the side of my beds.  That is a irrigation system that I'll go over in another section.