Curzio's Gardening Tips
Dear Friends:

When you visit my HarborMarket booth and look at my lettuce I surprise you by saying: - This lettuce is grown without water! Without irrigation I mean to say.

I start lettuce seed indoors and transpant the lettuce in raised beds after about 4 - 6 weeks from seed starting.

In this newsletter you will learn how to build a raised bed and grow lettuce all spring to early winter for less than $40.
List of Parts to Purchase to make 2 beds
  • 4 planks of treated wood 2" x 10" - 12ft long (cut 3ft + 9ft)
  • 1 post of treated wood 4" x 4" - 8 ft long (cut 8 pcs about 12" each)
  • 1 Qrt Linseed oil and 2 Qrt Mineral Spirits (mix 1 part + 2 parts)
  • 8 1/2" PVC Bristol pipe - 10 ft long - to be cut to 7 ft length
  • 24 1/2" steel clamps
  • 48 3" square drive screws (for the wood planks)
  • 48 1 5/8" square drive screws (for the steel clamps)
  • 2 6ft x 12 ft green mesh covers (Garden Supplies Co.)
  • 24 plastic clamps to secure the mesh cover to the pipe)

  Total cost is less than $80 for 2 beds - as low as $50 when lumber is on sale

Assembly instructions
  • Cut 3ft off the 4 12ft planks (the shorter planks are easier to handle)
  • Cover all surfaces with linseed oil (wood will last longer)
  • Pre-assemble the 3ft planks with the corner posts (3 screws per corner)
  • Dig 2" hole to match with corner post and assure plank is level
  • Drive 3 screws per corner to assemble the bed
  • Rake soil flat and cover with one inch of compost

Including the time it takes to cover all surfaces with linseed oil (twice) ... the whole project should not take more than 2 hours.

Important Note:

I'm using compost as mulch - compost is not immediately available to the plant as food. It first needs to be broken down by decomposition.

In these pictures you see about 2" of top soil and less than 2" of compost on top.

For the first year the bed will be half-empty. You keep adding compost and other organic matter (leaves and grass clippings) and in time the bed will be full of rich organic soil. Yes, in the back ground you see my fantastic parsley - those large leaves have grown to that size without being watered once.

That is - NOT even at the time of transplant. Watering spoils the plant ability to develop a deep root system. Shallow root systems are depening on your judgement of timing and quantity of watering!!

The mulch keeps the moisture in the soil and the plant can develop a perfect root system. If your soil and location is good for that plant you will have much better results without watering. The bulbs, leaves, or fruit that you harvest will contain more trace elements pulled from the soil without watering, resulting in better taste and more nutritional value.


A few small details ...

Other great benefit of raised beds are the coverings. I don't have yet pictures with glass coverings (winter). The pictures above show the green mesh (spring and summer and bed sheet (Basil does not like temps below 40F).

In the first picture you see a detail for a bed that is next to a wall. The 1/2" inch pipe arches are inserted in a 1" pipe (parts not included in the purchase list above).

I have been using square drive screws that I find easier to tighten and losen when I need to remove the pipe arches. If I have access to each side of the bed, I like to use 2 steel clamps on one side (those ensure the pipe arch is straight) but just one clamp on the other side (3 clamps per arch - 4 arches per 9ft bed - spaced about 3 ft apart).

.... to be continued to show more features, applications and contra-indications (for instance - raised beds are NOT good for strawberries as the additional exposure to air that increases the soil temps in the summer, reversely affect low temps in the winter. I have lost plants in raised beds that over-wintered fine at ground level.
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Looking forward to meet you at the Kenosha HarborMarket this Saturday, or some day.

Your friend will be under the white tent,



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