Raised-Bed Gardening – East Tennessee State University

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M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Excellent information. I see that I’ve been making a couple of mistakes with my raised beds during the past two growing seasons (watering too much for one). I chose landscape timbers for one bed because I replaced what was used there by the previous homeowner. I didn’t consider that they will rot from inside. I guess I will be replacing those with lumber after I harvest the peas. Thanks for sharing the MD. Great video!

  2. Fenland Prepper says:

    Hi, we have been using raised beds for a few years now for growing veg. Makes it easier on the back for both me and the wife. We build them with pressure treated timber which seems to last for a long long time. To top that we have also fitted three foot high cloches over them to increase the growing season.

  3. R. B. Stanley says:

    I gave up on landscape timbers. The best and easiest item to build with is the 8 inch concrete block. No mortar needed. You can usually find used ones very cheap or for free sometimes. Also, the holes can be filled with dirt and planted with things like garlic and chives.

    • Great idea R.B! We use pressured treated lumber for our other three beds and it has worked great. However, being able to utilize the holes in the blocks for planting as well is appealing. Also, concrete blocks, as you mentioned are cheaper and often available for free. Definitely something we will look into.

  4. Petticoat Prepper says:

    Years ago I had a raised bed that worked well. I’ve been without that since moving into this place 20+ years ago. I will have to move sooner or later and I was happy to see this video! Great food for thought, thanks MD.

  5. plantlady says:

    I have been using raised beds for 32 yrs now and they work like a charm. I started building dry rock fieldstone beds…but only had enough rocks for the ornamental gardens around the house. Couldn’t afford wood once the food garden passed the tiny stage, and cement blocks will leach alkalines into the beds. So I just mark out the beds and paths, then shovel the topsoil from the path areas onto the bed areas…silly to waste precious topsoil walking on it. Add as much compost and leafmould as possible, level the top and slightly bevel the edges. You will have to occasionally rake up the edges to neaten the look. I usually fill the paths with straw, leaves and woodchips to keep down weeds and hold in moisture. Then over the course of a couple years these organic materials break down to lovely dark compost, which is easily raked up onto the adjoining beds! A system that works very well.
    Now, in the big gardens I am bringing into production this year, I will build the beds using the big troybilt tiller with hiller/furrower attachment. Would prefer to use my wheelhoes, but the areas will add up to nearly 1-1/2 acres…and with food prices rising so fast and high and civilization going down even faster…want to have all the beds built and in production this year. The wheelhoes work great, but much slower than an 8 hp tiller (hehe).

  6. I take exception to one thing: DON’T use Roundup. It causes so many problems and has now been found in breast milk. Do the manual labor and pull any problem weeds out by hand.

  7. Dennis Selby says:

    I decided this was the year I was going to experiment with raised beds. Been practicing gardening, canning, etc., but MUST be more productive. So after building the first four of the several 4X8 beds I have planned this afternoon I found this video when I checked my e-mail. As is usual with me, I have planned way too many beds for my current needs, HOWEVER, should I ever need them all for survival, I will be ready. EXCELLENT VIDEO! Thanks so much.

  8. Well be cheap or fugal whatever you want to call it we now use rocks we find on the property or marginal logs we pull out of the woods while collecting fire wood or cleaning up downed trees.
    We would not use treated wood, I know MD says it’s fine but we don’t trust it. They also said Teflon was fine and many other things that turned out to not be so safe so why take the chance. Besides lumber has become very expensive. Cinder blocks we used them for many years again they were free then I read several reports that they do indeed leach out all kinds of noxious things lead mercury ect as they are made of coal plant fly ash waste. this again is not compatible with our organic garden. Just our two cents worth.

  9. I put a pond liner in my raised bed, then lengths of perforated drain pipe (in a “sock”) then soil. On the end I have a pvc pipe from the top down into the perforated pipe.

    I water by putting the hose into the pvc, which fills the perforated pipe. The layer of pipe stores about 30 gallons of water, so I only need to water every two weeks or so throughout the summer. Water percolates up from the bottom, and keeps the soil evenly moist all the time. The plants love it.

    It cost me a few bucks, but it’s WAY easier and better than trying to keep the soil moist in 100+ temps by surface watering.

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