Since I posted the other day on my Metal Sided Raised Bed I’ve received several questions about raised beds in general as well as questions about the metal raised bed itself. For today’s post I’ll answer those questions as many other people may be wondering the same thing – or may not have but may be curious to find out!
General Raised Bed Questions
raised bed? Are you supposed to remove all the grass first and then put down
your ground cover and then soil, and so on? Or do you just throw the black
plastic and lumber on the ground and go for it?
planted my spinach and Swiss chard. Now, this past summer I wasn’t able to
grow anything but flowers. I guess I need to re-nourish it but need some
guidance in this area. Do you have any suggestions?
Questions on constructing a metal raised bed.
3) Were you screwing in your deck screws at an angle? Any special tools needed?
Yes I was screwing in at angles! To put the frames together the way I did angle holes were necessary for the deck screws. No special tools are needed but there are kits that make it easier to drill at angles. A pocket hole kit would make some nice finished holes but since I was putting this in my backyard I didn’t go that route. In this case I started the drill hole going straight, just enough to create a small indention. Then I changed the angle of my drill to match the angle I wanted. The small indention kept the drill bit in place while I made my angle hole. If I hadn’t done that the drill could easily have slid away and caused me a bit of frustration.
4) What did you use to cut your metal?
I used a pair of metal snips which you can find in any hardware department. My dad and I used them for multiple areas when building my shed (Youtube Video). The key here is make sure you wear thick gloves when cutting the metal. Otherwise you will get some nasty cuts. Metal is sharp when cut. The cut ends are in inaccessible areas of the raised bed so it shouldn’t cause any issues with cuts or injuries.
5) Do you think using painted roofing will mitigate the reaction between the metal and the treated wood?
Maybe. The paint may act as a protective layer but you will have to drill holes in it somewhere which will expose the metal to the wood. Also there may be some issues with the paint eventually breaking down and releasing chemicals. If you’re concerned about the reaction try looking for cedar or redwood as naturally rot resistant wood materials or consider composite woods used for decking. They would be heavier but are very long lasting.
6) Do you think that much straw bale on the bottom will rob your fruits and veg of nitrogen, and if so, what will you supplement with?
Many people have tried and experienced success with straw bale gardening. Essentially the gardener adds compost and soil to the bales to encourage the breakdown of the materials. A balanced approach shouldn’t do any harm to the plants. That’s why sheet composting works so well. A garden that has been sheet composted (Lasagna Gardening) has very balanced ratio of brown (carbon) to green (nitrogen) and it doesn’t adversely effect plants. Sheet composting involves alternating layers of green and brown materials like cardboard, leaves, grass clippings, coffee ground, kitchen scraps, and a lot of other ingredients to build a garden that composts in place.
I’ll supplement with organic materials I mentioned in the question 2.
7) Will the metal conduct too much heat in the summer for the plants?
That’s a possibility but I think it can be managed. If cucumber plants or other vining plants are allowed to hang off the east and south sides they will reduce that impact a lot. I also think the the increased soil capacity will hold more moisture in the bed and reduce the impact of high heat. In addition the added heat could be an advantage where it will warm up the soil earlier and keep it warm longer which may extend the growing season. I’ll report on my findings but your thoughts could certainly prove valid.
Did any of these questions help you? If not, send me your questions!