You’ve probably done this too. Put something off until next year, making due with it and hoping it’ll give you just one more year before you’re forced to spring for a replacement. This was the case with the raised bed my husband built 12 years ago. I’ve grown a lot of veg in that bed and over the years we’ve learned how we would build it differently, and even better, next time. Only this time, I never would have guessed I’d sing the praises of a hog panel. Back then, I didn’t even know what a hog panel was!
At four feet wide and 16 feet long, the old bed was just too long. The pressure from so much soil against the boards forced them to bow. Complicating the issue, at least for me since I’m mathematically challenged and can’t fathom how my husband works his magic, is the ridiculous slope of our backyard which means the back of the raised bed must be deeper than the front to be level all the way around.
The original bed was about six inches deep in the front, 15 inches in the back. The rabbits loved the easy access and I never missed an opportunity to send Stella our dog out after them. She loved it and I kinda did too. Her stalking instinct was strong and fun to watch. It’s as though a call went out after her death this past December and every cat, rabbit, vole, and mole in the neighborhood has answered it.
We moved the new bed up further into the lawn to allow for more wiggle room near the fence which meant the new beds would be 16 inches in the front, 22 inches in the back. We went with two beds, each four feet by eight feet, instead of one big one to prevent the sides from bowing again, leaving three feet between the beds. I wanted to connect the two beds with some kind of trellis but everything I found was pretty expensive and not as sturdy as I would like.
Originally, I considered a cattle panel, but at 16 feet long and 50 inches wide, it wasn’t going to fit in my car. The better option was a hog panel, same length, but at 34 inches wide we could fold it in half and fit it into the back of my Outback. Four 66-inch T poles and a package of steel T-pole fence clips and we were on our way to an affordable and very strong trellis for my pole beans and birdhouse gourds. The whole trellis set up was under $45 and we found everything we needed at Blain’s Farm and Fleet. It was the first time either of us had shopped there and I was struck by how you could find a cute outfit and just a few aisles over a livestock castration kit. Who knew?
To ensure it was well anchored, we chose taller T poles so they’d reach past the new loose soil and grip the dense clay beneath each box. After pounding the T poles into the beds, we bent the panel into place to check the height. It was too tall and if we left it I’d need a ladder to harvest. Using my husband’s bolt cutters, we removed a row from each end, about a foot in all, and set it in place. It was perfect, allowing enough room for me and plenty of hanging veg.
These last several weeks, I’ve received so many boxes full of trial plants from nurseries across the country. Instead of tossing all that cardboard into the trash, I broke apart the boxes, removed all the tape and layered them between the raised beds and the fence. I want to mulch this area and thought this was an excellent way to kill the grass. I got it in place just before we were smashed with a relentless rain. Perfect timing. This week, I’ll dump bags of mulch on it, install edging between the grass and mulched area and cross this job off our list.
It feels good to have something turn out even better than you imagined. Who knew a hog panel could could be the cherry on top?
Check out this money saving tip for saving valuable topsoil when digging a new garden bed. Click here.