A quick update on our tiny garden project – we have made the first of the new raised garden beds. It is made from colorbond corrugated roofing and timber and is about 120 x 60 cm x 75cm tall. I had been delaying previously as I was still working out the most cost efficient way to do it, based on our requirements.

One issue was at what height to make them. We wanted to be able to tend to the gardens and harvest things standing up properly, not bending over and definitely not kneeling down. To do that means to make them at least 70-80 cm high, which when made out of timber gets expensive fast, even for the most economical variety, ie, untreated pine.

However, colorbond roofing comes in a width of about 75cm so that seemed ideal so it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of this fact, but at the time I wasn’t sure how I was going to cut it, as a metal circular saw is quite expensive at $400 ish including battery, especially if we’re not going to use it much.

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Some pine stock in Bunnings.

But it turns out that you can order to size in the Special Orders section of Bunnings, so problem solved. Length wise, if you’re going to do something similar yourself, check what the smallest size they can cut it at will be.  Down here, it is 60cm, but they didn’t tell me when the next time I ordered 53cm pieces and ended up having a call from them telling me they can’t cut it to that size. Luckily I hadn’t jumped the gun and gone to buy more measured up timber for the frames already.

Untreated Pine

The timber is untreated pine, which might raise eyebrows. Reason? After spending some time looking into it, we decided to go for untreated instead of treated , primarily so there is zero worry regarding food contamination. Although these days there are safer chemicals used in the treatment of pine, it is still more than nothing, and not being scientists, we’d rather just stay as close to zero as we can. Personally I wouldn’t mind so much as the pine would have very little contact with the soil being on the outside of the steel, but it more for Mrs FW’s peace of mind.

I’ve got a normal timber circular saw, so I was able to cut some bits down to size easily but you can just as easily ask them to do it in Bunnings but they may charge for it ($0.50 per cut I believe). I’ve not been charged for them doing that yet but I guess if you need lots done then they will do.

It is expected to only last no more than a few years but depending on how it goes, we’ll either replace the timber when it’s needed (putting the rotting timber into it’s own volume to help fill it up – see below), or replace with treated pine or something else.

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I hope this area will look as nice as it does in my imagination one day.

Aside from timber and steel, we just needed fasteners and screws.  Putting it all together is pretty fast and easy, so long as you have a powerdrill. The mini Ikea ones for putting together furniture won’t work – it’s not powerful enough to go through the steel- I tried it. Our Ryobi one was fine though you have to put a bit more pressure on it to be able to bite into the steel at first.

Filling it up

This initially was expected to be a substantial part of the cost, as each of our planter boxes is approximately half a cubic metre. For larger volumes of soil, it is more cost effective to buy it in bulk from landscape suppliers, but even so, we were looking at $70 per cubic metre, then delivery cost on top of that (haven’t asked but it would surely cost more than an Ubereats delivery). In addition, some suppliers say that there may be small amounts of glass and plastic in the recycled soil, so that put us off that idea too.

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Olive branches used to fill out the planter box. This lot is spare, waiting for me to build the next two boxes.

After Googling and Youtubing it, we have decided to go the most frugal way we can, and fill it up for free. We are doing this by filling it with green waste essentially. Leaves, sticks and what not. We are quite lucky in that our neighbour occasionally prunes and cuts down part or whole trees, so we’ve been able to fill up the first one quite easily with a load of olive branches, on top of a thick layer of brown leaves from our own trees.

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Too full of green waste already. Will take some out so we can add at least a foot of soil.

This will all break down over time of course but we’ll top it up by regular large packs of mulch and soil from Bunnings.

We’re attaching a lattice to the back of them for plants to climb up with, and also to make the area eventually look more green and less like a fence- which it is.

The final step which I haven’t started yet and will wait for the others to be complete is to set up the irrigation system. This will be a new set of thin tubing coming from the nearest garden tap to drip water across the surface when it’s turned on.

Costs so far

ItemCostNotes
Timber32One plank I got thicker than I meant to so it should have been a bit less than this.
Steel562 pieces of 120cm
2 pieces of 60cm
Timber screws18100 pack, which I only used 20, so this will cover all three boxes with more left over.
Steel to timber fasteners15Pack of 50, of which I used 32 per one bed.
TOTAL121

When they are all done and filled up with stuff- be it green waste, mulch or/ and soil, as well with the irrigation system added, I will make a new final table of costs.

Resources:

I only found this Youtube channel recently but it’s fantastic. The second one is Australia based which I’ve not looked at as much so far but what I have seen has been very helpful. Be sure to check them out if you’re interested to learn more.

Epic Gardening: https://www.youtube.com/user/EpicGardening

Self Sufficient Me: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJZTjBlrnDHYmf0F-eYXA3Q