Making and Using a Tiered Bed Garden



tiered bed

Decorative tiered planter

One of the problems that many people have with gardening is in finding the room for the garden. In a traditional garden, a lot of space is needed in order to grow enough plants to provide food enough for a small family. However, a traditional garden is gardening in two dimensions; length and width. A third dimension is being wasted; height. Tiered bed gardening takes advantage of that space that isn’t being used.

Tiered bed overview

A tiered bed usually amounts to a frame that is filled with dirt. Upon this frame, another smaller frame is built and also filled with dirt. This is repeated as many times as is wanted and the area allows.

It might not seem like this would grow more plants than traditional rows would grow. However, a tiered bed will actually allow two or three times as many plants to be grown. This is because you aren’t growing in just an area, you are growing in a volume – three dimensions. This can be most easily seen after explaining how to build a tiered bed.

Building the bed

Many different sizes of tiered beds are possible and even different shapes can be built. The idea is easy to master, though, so we’ll concentrate on a very basic design that covers a plot of six feet by six feet.

The frame can be made of 2×12 lumber or with three 2×4‘s. The first step is to drive 2×2 stakes into the ground, two inches apart and about two feet deep, with a foot of the 2×2’s above the ground. The stakes need to be about four feet between pairs, since these are going to form the braces to hold the 2×12 or 2×4 lumber.

Simply slide the sides between the stakes. If the 2×12 is cut six feet long, this gives you one side of the frame.

Next, drive two pairs of stakes at right angles to the end of the finished side to hole the next side, which will be perpendicular to the first side. The next 2×12 should be about 5 feet 8 inches long, to allow for the width of the first and third sides. Continue this all the way around and you should be left with a square frame that is six feet on each side.

Fill this with good dirt and level it, then build a frame in the same way, except that the sides should be four feet on the side. When it is done, fill it with soil and then build the third frame that is two feet on each side and fill the last frame with dirt.

Growing more plants

It normally isn’t intuitive that you can grow more plants in a tier system, but you can. In a conventional plot that is six feet by six feet, with the rows 18 inches apart, there will be four six-foot rows. If the plants are grown six inches apart, there is room for 12 plants per row. This gives a total of 48 plants.

Consider the tier bed that was just discussed. Since the second tier is four feet by four feet, the bottom tier has six two feet of space all the way around to grow plants in. Using the same 18 inch spacing between rows, this gives you two rows on each side. with the same six-inch spacing between plants, the each side will hold 24 plants and there are four sides. The bottom tier supports 96 plants. The second tier is two feet shorter per side, but it also has two rows on each side. With the same spacing, each side will hold 16 plants, so the second tier supports 64 plants. The top-tier holds eight plants, if the rows are 18 inches apart. This means that the tiered bed can hold 168 plants. That is over three times more plants than in the conventional garden.

Actually, a tiered garden can sustain more plants than this, because the rows can be less than 18 inches apart. You are probably not going to be walking down the rows so the extra space isn’t needed.

This is just one example and it is a basic one, but it is easy to see that by using a tiered bed, you can grow many more plants in a given area than you’d be able to grow in a conventional garden. The soil tends to be better since you control what kind of dirt goes into the tiered bed and this also means that the weeding can be easier because the soil can be much looser. For that matter, you also don’t have as far to bend to get to the weeds.

If you want a garden and are lacking space to grow much, you might consider using tiered bed gardening. Most of the effort is in setting it up. After that, it is actually easier to maintain and you’ll be able to grow more.

 


 

 

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Posted in food and plants and tagged , , , , by with 6 comments.

Comments

  • I love that. 🙂 Looks great.

  • Maricel says:

    wow this is really beautiful I love it.

  • Jessica says:

    My mom has a tiered garden. She started out with one two-tiered garden and then had enough success that she wanted a second two-tiered garden. As long as everything grows, we have half of the food we eat available in said tiered garden.

    I was wondering if you’d have any suggestions for food-producing plants that we could grow this year in our garden. My mom has started a list of things she knows she wants but she also seems to be interested in options.

    • rextrulove says:

      @jessica, It depends on your climate and what you like to eat. This year, I plan on growing lettuce, chard, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, beans, soy beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, zucchinis and luffa. I’ll probably grow more than just that, but perhaps it will help give some ideas.

      I already have herbs that will come up, so the only herb I’ll need to plant is basil, which is an annual. I have oregano, thyme, lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, sage, stevia, parsley and chives growing and all of them are starting to grow, despite our cold weather.

      Our climate is way cold in the winter and very hot in the summer, with a 4-month growing season in normal years.

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