Make a Raised Bed and Row Blanket – Grit


Provide a safe haven for your vegetables when wildlife and insects want to bite into your crops.

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by Susan Mulvihill

Unwanted garden visitors can be a constant struggle in a gardener’s growing efforts, posing a threat to fruit, leaves or even an entire crop. You can build this simple 3-by-8-foot raised bed and hinged lid to help keep harmful pests away from susceptible vegetable crops that don’t require pollination. This cover is primarily intended as a floating row cover, but bird netting is another option in place of row cover to protect lettuce plantings from a variety of munching critters.
Use this bed on a three-year crop rotation plan by growing family crops of cabbage one year (to repel aphids, cabbage loopers, cabbage worms and diamondback moth larvae), family crops beets the following year (to thwart leaf miners), and perhaps onions the third year (if onion maggot is a problem in your area).

For the raised bed:

  • Circular saw or chainsaw 9⁄64 inch bit
  • Electric or cordless drill
  • screwdriver bit
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • 2 × 10 inch planks, 8 feet long (3), in fir, pine, larch, cedar or redwood
  • 10 × 3-inch flat-head screws (20)

For the cover:

  • Pipe cutters
  • Nail gun or finish nails and hammer
  • Tape measure
  • screwdriver bit
  • 1⁄8 inch drill bit
  • Electric or cordless drill
  • 2×2s, 8 feet long (3)
  • 2 × 2, 8 feet long (2), cut into 36 inch (2), 8 inch (2) and 18 inch (2) segments
  • 4 inch 90 degree flat metal corner braces with screws (4)
  • Wood glue
  • #8 × 3-inch screws (8)
  • #8 × 2-inch screws (4)
  • ¾ inch Poly Pipe Insert Plugs (10)
  • #8×5⁄8 inch screws (10)
  • ¾ inch black poly garden hose, 25 feet long
  • #8 × 1½ inch screws (5)
  • 6×12ft floating cover or bird netting
  • ¼ × ¾ inch wooden screen molding,
  • 8 feet long (3)
  • 3½ inch square hinges with screws (2)
  • 31⁄8 inch metal handle with screws
  • 1 × 34 inch nylon straps (2)

Build the raised bed

1. Cut two 3 foot long boards from one of the 2 by 10 inch boards.

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Picture by Susan Mulvihill

Pre-drill your shorter boards.

2. Use the 9⁄64 inch drill bit to pre-drill 5 holes along each short edge of the 3 foot long boards.

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Attach your pre-drilled shorter boards to the longer ones to build your raised bed.

3. On a flat surface, screw these boards to the ends of the 8 foot boards.

4. Measure diagonally from opposite corners to determine if the bed is square. If they are uneven, make adjustments by tapping the long sides with a hammer so that the two measurements are the same.

5. Place the raised bed in its permanent location and use a level to determine if the bed is level at the ends and sides. Make it as flat as possible to prevent water and soil from running down the sides when watering the bed.

Build the cover

1a. Make the base of the frame. First, place two 8-foot 2×2s 36 inches apart. Next, secure the 36-inch 2x2s at each end with nails to create a rectangular frame base.

1b. Measure diagonally from opposite corners to determine if the base of the frame is square; make the necessary adjustments.

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To build the raised bedspread, first build the base.

1 C. Screw the flat metal corner braces to each corner as shown on page 38. These braces will be on the bottom side of the finished cover.

Note: Before screwing all 2×2 joints together, pre-drill the screw holes with a 1⁄8-inch drill bit, then apply a coat of wood glue to each joint. Glue and a 3-inch screw will secure each 2×2 corner joint.

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Picture by Susan Mulvihill

Make supports on top that will create the frame for the hoops and the row cover.

2a. Assemble and install the two vertical supports. Pre-drill 2 holes in the side of an 8-inch 2×2, then place it on top of an 18-inch 2×2, 1½ inches from the top. Screw the 8 inch board in place with 2 inch screws. Repeat the process with the other 18 inch upright.

2b. Mark the center (18 inches) on each board 36 inches from the base of the frame and pre-drill a hole through this marker from top to bottom (the bottom being the side with the flat corner braces).

Raised bedspread-Step-2c

2c. Use 3-inch screws and glue to secure the uprights with the top bar brackets facing inward. (The 8-inch 2x2s will provide support for the 8-foot 2×2 top bar in Step 3.)

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Constructed raised bed cover frame.

3. Lay the remaining 8 2×2 legs on the vertical supports and secure each end with glue and 3-inch screws.

4a. Attach the poly pipe insert plugs to the base of the frame. Pre-drill a 1⁄8 inch hole through the bottom end of each polyethylene pipe insert plug.

4b. To help position the plugs, temporarily place a length of wood molding on the top outside edge of one of the long sides of the frame base. (This will ensure that the wood screen molding will not hang over the base of the frame once the plugs are installed). Space 3 insert plugs on the board every 2 feet. Screw the caps in place with the 5⁄8 inch screws. Repeat along the other long side of the frame base.

Note: If your sheets have tabs, be sure to position the tabs parallel to the length of the boards.

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Picture by Susan Mulvihill

Once the raised bed cover frame has been constructed, install poly pipe insert plugs into its base, which will secure the hoops.

4c. Screw the 4 outer corner plugs in line with the others, securing them to the 3 foot long end boards, about ¾ inch from the edges. If your caps have tabs, cut off the outer tab with a hacksaw or other tool.

5a. Attach the hoops to the frame. Cut five pieces of black poly garden hose 58 inches long.

5b. Place the frame on the floor, then push the hoops onto the pegs. The easiest way to push each hoop onto a clog is to dip the end of the hose into a container of very hot water for about 30 seconds and push the hose onto the clog. Repeat the process until all 5 hoops are in place.

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Picture by Susan Mulvihill

Fixing the hoops to the frame.

5c. Drill a 1⁄8 inch hole through the top center of each hoop and down into the top bar. Use 1½ inch screws to attach the hoops to the bar.

6a. Cover the frame. Place the floating row cover over the hoops, with the excess draped evenly all around.

6b. Cut the screen molding strips into two 5-foot pieces, two 39¼-inch pieces, and two 3-foot pieces.

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Covering the frame.

6c. Working on the long sides first, place the 5-foot, 39¼-inch pieces lengthwise on top of the floating row cover next to the insert plugs. Secure them with a nail gun or finish nails every 6 inches or so.

6d. Move to the opposite side of the frame. Carefully pull the floating row cover taut over the poles. Place the 5-foot, 39¼-inch molding strips next to the plugs and nail the strips.

6th. Moving to one end of the frame, carefully fold over the excess row cover, place a 3-foot strip of molding along the outside edge of the 2×2, and nail the strip in place. Repeat the same process on the opposite end. Next, carefully trim the excess row cover all the way around the base of the frame.

7. Place the finished blanket on the raised bed. Attach 2 hinges to the back of the blanket and bed, about 24 inches from each end.

8. Install the metal handle in the front center of the cover.

9. To make sure the lid won’t open too far, screw a nylon strap inside one end of the raised bed, about 10½ inches from the front. Screw the other end of the strap inside the cover 13½ inches from the front. Repeat at the opposite end.

Excerpted with permission from The handbook of vegetable garden pests by Susan Mulvihill (Cool Springs Press).

Posted on February 15, 2022


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