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Raised Bed Herb Garden

Many of us are finding ourselves gardening in smaller spaces these days. So, how about a plan for a small, raised bed that takes no time to put together and will allow you to enjoy fresh herbs all through the season?

For one bed you will need:
(4) 2" x 12" boards, cut to a length that suits your site
(12) 2 1/2" wood screws
(8) 2" x 2' stakes

For your 2" x 12" boards, choose lumber that is untreated and resists rotting such as cedar or cypress. I have 2 sets of square beds. One set contains four 4' x 4' square beds and the other, four 6' x 6' square beds. The size bed you choose depends on your site and design. Just remember to create beds that are a manageable size. You should be able to reach into the middle of the bed without stepping on the soil.

Raised BedTo assemble the bed, simply cut the ends of the boards at 45-degree angles and attach them securely together using 3 wood screws along the joint at each corner. Once all 4 corners of the frame have been attached, place the square in its permanent location. Most herbs need full sun to thrive so place your frame in a spot that will receive at least 6 hours of sunlight.

Put a level along the top of the board on each side to make sure the frame is balanced. You may need to dig a small trench under the frame so it sits level on the ground. Once that is done, position the 2" x 2' stakes every couple of feet along the inside of the boards and hammer them into the ground about 1 foot deep. This will help anchor the beds. With the frame in place, you are ready to add the soil.

As strange as this sounds, I've found herbs taste better if they aren't planted in soil that is too fertile. The oil in the leaves gives herbs their wonderful flavor and smell. These oils seem to become more concentrated when grown in average soil. So for your herb garden blend 1/3 topsoil, 1/3 sand and 1/3 compost or humus.

You can order soil, manure, and compost to be delivered by the cubic yard or for smaller beds you can use bagged material. A cubic yard covers about 100 square feet 3 inches deep. Your soil mixture should come up to about 2 inches from the top of the board, giving you just enough room for a layer of mulch, which will preserve moisture and keep the roots cool.

You will be amazed at all of the different varieties and amounts of herbs that you can grow in such a limited space. And if you think herbs are just about cooking, look again, some of them have beautiful foliage and interesting flowers.

When planting your raised bed, place the taller plants towards the center, like basil or lavender. Then, as you move toward the edge, let lower growing plants, such as parsley and oregano spill over the sides. You may also want to consider adding a few flowers, such as marigolds and nasturtiums, for a splash of color.

When it comes to putting these things into the ground, there is really not much to it. If the roots are bound, tear them just slightly before planting. Then water them in and in no time at all your small herb garden will be full of bounty for the table.