At my current house, I have remarkably little sun and many, many deer. You know when you go to the store’s garden section and you see those tags that say “Deer Resistant”? I consider these an example of blatant false advertizing. I scoff at them. My deer take those tags as a challenge. No amount or type of deer repellant has any effect—believe me I have tried them all. And, as if no sun and 150-lb grazers weren’t enough, the deer bring friends: other hungry herbivores who love my tomatoes include moles, rabbits, every bird imaginable, my cat, raccoons and the local hermit crabs. I’ve even seen evidence of an otter near my veggies, although I do believe he was going after the hermit crabs.
This has made my love of gardening interesting, to say the least. After much complaining and many a tear shed over ravaged hydrangeas, my hubby was kind enough to not only build me some raised garden beds, but to build me Fort Knox Raised Garden Beds. This has allowed me to grow veggies in peace on a tiny piece of land with such poor, compacted soil that not even weeds will grow.
First, I did my best to loosen the soil where the beds would go. The beds are parallel to my driveway—one of the few places on my lot which is full sun, and the soil is very compacted and consists of clay and fill dirt. You’ll notice I didn’t have to do a whole lot of clearing because nothing will grow.
Hubby built the two raised beds. Each bed is 4’ X 8’ X 1’ and is made out of cedar with hardware cloth attached to the bottom. The hardware cloth will allow drainage and veggie roots to grow deeper than the bottom of the box, but will prevent my ever present moles from doing too much damage to the plants.
I had about half the compost I needed to fill the boxes, the rest came from Lowes. Hubby built a frame all around the boxes and attached chicken wire to the top and the two short sides of the frame. For the 20’ spans on both long ends, hubby built four 10’ rectangles out of PVC and attached them with hinges. These work as excellent doors, as I can open up the whole area and get a wheelbarrow in there. Then, I just painted the wood and spray painted the PVC. Between the two boxes, I decided to maximize the “safe” space by putting strawberries in pots.
This contraption has produced many, many pounds of un-molested tomatoes, herbs, zucchini, broccoli, onions, carrots and all manner of edibles. The deer are still trying to find a way in. In the summer I call my raised beds ‘Deer TV’, because they just sit there in front of the beds, staring.