Ecotinkering Part 1: Building a Raised Bed

Repurposing furniture for growing veggies!

As part of our Starship quest to eco-tinker, we are trying our hands at food production – in our very own front yard!  In the picture above, you can see Jen putting the finishing touches on a raised bed…formerly known as a piece of furniture.  Downsizing from a normal-sized bedroom to a teeny-tiny room, one of our housemates, Holly, kindly donated her giant entertainment center/bookshelf to the eco-tinkering food production cause.  Her entertainment center is what you can see lying on the ground in the foreground of the photo.

Previously partitioned into a variety of shelves, cabinets and compartments, the entertainment center needed to be stripped of its innards to become the shell of a raised bed that you see above.  Using naught but a hammer, a hive tool (similar to a crow bar), and sheer force of will, Jen, Mike, and Shane were able to knock out the shelves and dividers.  It was a slow and tricky process, but eventually the inside of the entertainment center (and the identity of the entertainment center as “entertainment center”) was successfully dismantled.  We were on our way to successful raised bed construction!

Next, we lined the interior of the raised bed with polyethylene sheeting to prevent nasty chemicals from leaching into the soil from the re-purposed and likely pressure-treated or finished wood of the raised bed frame.  In the picture, Jen is nailing it into the frame to secure it and prevent soil contact with the frame.  According to a friend of ours, low-density polyethylene #4 (LDPE #4) is considered an archivally-safe material; it does not, itself, leach chemicals into items it touches, making it desirable for storing old paper, photographs, and other archive-worthy materials…and for lining our raised bed!  (Fun fact about the polyethylene pictured above: it had previously been used as groundcloth for desert camping in Utah!  From the Moab Desert, Utah to Worcester, MA, this LDPE is keeping us safe – this time, from toxins in our home-grown veggies.)  While lining the sides with the polyethylene, we also threw down some landscaping fabric at the bottom of the raised bed (see the black stuff?) to separate the soil in the raised bed from the potentially lead-laden soil in our front yard.

After lining our newest raised bed, all that was left was to fill it with soil/compost!     We had already completed this last step with our two earlier-built raised beds, which you can see in the photo above, behind Jen – one built out of cinderblocks with landscaping fabric at the bottom, and the other constructed with an old bed frame (also formerly Holly’s) as a…frame, also lined with landscaping fabric at the bottom, and cardboard on the sides.

Veggies here we come! 🙂