The Shed

The Shed
The Shed

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Unless your raised beds are made of stone or some other virtually indestructible material they will need to be replaced from time to time. But why pay for lumber or railroad ties when the woods are literally, full of raised beds? We are going to show you how to build a 4' x 10' raised bed from a single log. You will need:

* Sledge hammer
* Wedge
* Splitting maul or axe
* Sturdy knife
* Chain saw

With all vital tools assembled, scour the woods for a potential log. Rarely does one find a log in satisfactory condition just lying about, and therefore it will be necessary to cut one. Here is discovered a tall, straight ash trunk, about 11" diameter where the cut needs to be made. It is indeed a potential log, and evidently quite proud of the fact.

A few deft cuts and the potential log becomes a log in reality.

Since we want internal bed dimensions to measure 4' X 10' we cut the long log - the side pieces - to 10' and the shorter to 5' as these will "cap" the longer logs to form the end pieces.

Once again use the chain saw to cut a slot in the end of the longer log, deep enough to hold the wedge in place, and running directly through the logs center point. A few sharp blows with the sledge hammer and the log will begin to split, straight and true down the center.

Help the splitting process along by enlarging the split with the maul, or wedge, or even as seen here, the wedge shaped piece that came from the notch which was cut when the tree was felled. In very short time the log will simply fall apart into two 10' semicircular planks, the two long sides of the new bed. Do exactly the same thing with the shorter log and now you have the two required end caps.

Here are the finished planks.

Now all that remains is to use the saw to cut 2' sections of slender saplings, about 14 of them, and use the sharp knife or a hatchet to give them a point. Then, arrange the semicircular planks, flat sides in towards the bed area and drive in the stakes to secure the bed in position. Use 4 stakes, two inside and two outside for each 10' length and 3 for each shorter length, one inside and two out.  

These pieces are cut from an ash tree. Ash has the virtue of splitting incredibly easily and will last a number of years in ground contact. However, if a tall, slender red oak tree is available, always opt for the oak. It takes forever to deteriorate, which is good. It also splits more easily than does ash, which is better still.

You need never again visit the lumber yard for raised bed components, because now you know they literally grow on trees!  


Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Good job, Mac! Have you read about just building soil beds directly on top of old rotting logs? It first came to my attention via Julie Helm's "Woolly Acres", in which she had a link to this site.
A process called "Hugelkultur" ---They make very rich soil beds in no time. Here's the link for it, I think you'll like this:

The interesting thing about this is that rotting logs not only hold a lot of moisture, but they feed the soil nutrients--and become soil themselves. Logs suitable are poplar, maple, old balsam, etc...and probably a lot of others. Just pile them nice and neat, cover them up with soil. Even your farm helper can do that! ":)

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Mac, I forgot, check out the veggies from my "heaps", which are built on old garden waste, vines, etc. Seriously, this is a great gardening technique, I think Hugelkultur may even be better because the old logs will hold a lot of water. Here's the link to my article on it:

Mike W said...

Yeah that bottle of Vodka next to the chain saw --- nice touch!

Mac Pike said...

I will check that out indeed!

Mac Pike said...

Urm. I use that as a gas can?

Glory Lennon said...

You expect us to believe that??? Silly Mac. Just be careful with those falling logs. OUCH!

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

I know, Mac, it is Bankers-Vodka Chain Oil, everybody uses it. Dandy stuff. Makes work go a lot easier! ":)