Friday, October 24, 2008
A Terraced Hillside Vegetable Garden -- How to do it on the Cheap
Our house next to the Kennebec River in Augusta, Maine is on a steep slope. So the house lots are terraced from one lot up to the next. This is an experiment in terracing the terrace, so that we can maximize the vegetable growing potential of our 1/5th acre lot. This stuff has been done by people for 10,000 years. But I have the advantage of sophisticated power tools, sports talk radio, a six pack of Molson Canadian Ale and large nails.
This design uses a 2x12x8 board as the front plate with a stack of three 4x4s for the sides. The 4x4s are 4 feet long and staggered down to 30 inches at the bottom to accommodate the slope. I used pointed 2x4s cut to 18 inches to bind the 4x4s together, joined with 20D 4 inch spikes.
The 2x12 front plates are nailed to the ends of the 4x4 groups with 4 inch 20D spikes (one spike in each 4x4), to which I will add 4 inch L-brackets on the corners for additional strength. The front plates have 24 inch 2x4 spiked studs buried into the ground to prevent the front plates from bending or slumping due to frost heaves and soil creep.
Here are the terraced beds, at left, from the view of the giant silver maple tree in our back yard in May 2009.
Here they are in early April 2010, about 18 months after I built them in October 2008. They are in good condition with no sign of warping or collapse. So far so good.