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Making a Raised Bed by Hand

I used to think a raised bed involved spending money on boards, hardware and the most ridiculous thing: imported dirt. But you don’t need any of those things, because the soil you need is under the grass. It takes some effort, but with some strength and the right tools, you can make an excellent raised bed with a fairly simple technique called the double dig raised bed.

You will be tired, but you will sleep better and the sight of food growing happily in soft raised soil makes it worthwhile. I had to watch a lot of videos and read a lot of articles before I understood the simple method. I’m going to try to make it easy.

Use a shovel to remove the turf from a trench that is approximately one foot by four feet. Save the turf in a wheelbarrow or in a box of some sort.

Start a double dig raised bed by removing a rectangle of turf

Using a pick ax and a shovel, dig down into that hole about ten inches. Save that dirt, also. If have some compost to put in the hole, add it.

Cut the turf in a trench next to the first trench, and put that turf upside down in the first trench, on top of the compost, if you have any. Then dig the dirt out of the second trench and put that on top of the upside down turf.

Turf from the next trench gets turned upside down and put in the first trench. The square shovel on the left is perfect for cutting pieces of turf.

Keep doing this until you have a bed of the desired size. Put the turf you saved upside down in the last trench and the saved dirt on top. Mix in fertilizer, if you have any. And that’s it, you have a bed your plants will like. Don’t step on it because you will compress the nice fluffy soil.

I used the rectangular board shown here to help with the measurements.
This bed is ready for planting as soon as it gets a little warmer.

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