Free Form Raised Beds

The above soil had a green cover, I didn’t take a picture of it, it had been allowed to grow in the fall, and then was turned in, along with the layer of about 2 inches of aged compost made on the farm, this compost is a mix of manures between goat/sheep/rabbit/bird, plus a light dusting of lime, I think the photo does a good job showing how nice this soil is, I call this the nursery garden for a couple reason, its a very sheltered garden with a ring of tree around it for wind break and back’s on a outbuilding for added shelter but the garden itself still gets full sun, It is a combo of a starting garden, a micro-climate for really tender plants and it also has a area for in the heat of summer to have half sun/half shade once the tree’s come out fully which really helps me in working with the greens, that in full heat and sun would bolt but do much better in that half sun area.

Each raised bed is three feet wide, we measured them out with string on sticks so that we were able to keep form correctly, you start at the end, and pull the dirt from the walkways up into the area that will be the bed with a rake, only once you have your walkway started do you step into that are, and then pull from the other side, repeat the lenght of the beds, then take your rake and level your beds down, at this point, you can plant just like you would in sqaure foot gardening, I tend to have three main plant count outs, big plant that needs a full amount, I give them on whole foot, or for smaller plants that I want in rows, I do two rows per bed or I have the proper wooden frame to go over the beds and do the sqaure row planting depending on what I want to do.

Having moved the loose worked soil into the bed that has never been stepped on, and then having the walk way firm by both hitting the harder layer of soil, combined with regular walking on it, easy enough to keep weeds under control with a little hoeing, I also tend to throw any weeds from the beds into the walkways to die, and then once a month or so, I will rake the paths and add the dead plants to the compost pile.

On seeds that require light coverings (1/4 inch) and that even the lightest clumb can effect how it does, I like to make a soft soil/peat covering that I sprinkle on top of the seeds after they are planted, and depending on the type of seed, sometimes a light cloth would be laid on top, it needs to be able to breath and lets water though of course but it helps keep the soil evenly damp at the same time.

I really like this way of creating free form raised beds, I get alot of the same bonus’s that a raised bed gives you, but without the added cost of the frames, or the fact that you are locked in to one shape, this way lets you move and change your beds size, shape and even curve to fit the area, I have cut down tree’s, made a raised bed over the stump, put a walkway around it and then a curved circle of a garden bed around the outside..  the ways to use it are limited only by your own willingness to try something different.

This post is part of the Homestead Barn Hop

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8 Responses to Free Form Raised Beds

  1. I LOVE the visuals! 🙂

  2. Carolyn says:

    That is some good looking dirt!
    I am using the freeform method on a couple beds I made this year!

  3. Sally says:

    This is FANTASTIC!!! I am sharing this wonderful idea with my husband! I found you by way of Homestead Revival’s Barn Hop today and so glad I did!

    • Hi Sally,

      Glad you stopped by and thanks so much for the comment, I will head on over to see what’s new at your place as well. Hope to see more of you in the future and if you make the beds, would love to hear back how they work for you.

  4. Sharon says:

    We built a couple of 8×4 raised beds last weekend, but hubby really wants to go the freeform way in the future. I like the idea of being able to change things up if they’re not working well.
    We chose the raised beds for a couple of reasons, 1. we have just moved in and need to start small. 2. our soil is not great so we need to import some from somewhere else for this year.

    P.S. Visiting you through the Barn Hop

    • Thanks for visiting and for leaving a message, congrats on your first raised beds, I hope you will have a productive gardening season. It takes time to improve soil, years and years of hard work but the perk is that we see the results as we go.

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