Raised beds make tasks like weeding or harvesting simpler. But Jerry Finkelstein in upstate New York too the idea to new heights by raising already raised beds 3 feet to countertop level. Each bed is 4-feet wide by 16-feet long, with the vegetables growing at a height that eliminates stooping. “From any point in the garden, I am no more than 2 feet from a vegetable.” he says. “Each bed is 4 feet wide, but I can walk around it.”
Essentially, it is container gardening on a grand scale. He fills the beds, which hold about 10 inches of soil, with local topsoil and adds composted manure from nearby farms, and he continues to do so periodically.
Four double doors mean easy access to bring in compost and soil and to take out the harvest and garden debris at season’s end. “The system is tailor-made for seniors or people with disabilities—easy access with no bending—but it is great for everyone,” says Finkelstein. “I made it that way so no matter how old I get, I can still garden.”
Jeremiah Brophy, who built the beds for Finkelstein, explains how they are made:
1. A frame of 2-by-4s, clad in 1-by-12 planks, establishes the size of each bed. (In this case, the beds are 4-feet wide by 16-feet long.) Vertical 2-by-4s and cross braces provide stability at 4-foot intervals down the length of the bed.
2. In most of Finkelstein’s beds, empty plastic milk crates stacked 26 inches high support the weight of the soil. In others, sturdy plastic barrels, cut to a height of 26 inches, do the lifting.
3. Atop the barrels or crates is a flat sheet of hardware cloth, a galvanized welded-wire mesh. The hardware cloth is bent upward about 2 inches at the edges and secured to the wooden sides of the beds with fence staples.
4. Heavy-duty, water-permeable landscape fabric rests on the hardware cloth to hold the soil in place. The fabric extends to the top of the frame and is stapled to the wood.