The Beekman Heirloom Garden is primarily made up of 52 raised garden beds.We got a great email recently from someone who was inspired by our Beekman Heirloom Garden Design, and he asked us all the right questions about how to build his own. So we thought we'd share our answers.

Q. I’m trying to avoid pressure treated wood, but cedar is so expensive. What kind of lumber did you use?
A. Yes, please avoid pressure treated wood, which contains toxic chemicals that leach into the soil, and your plants. We used rough-hewn, 2-inch-thick, local hemlock from a nearby lumber mill. We know we’ll have to replace our boxes as the wood breaks down, but their thickness should stave that off for quite a few years. They’ve held up so well through the first three winters that we’re already planning on being buried in them (eventually.)

Q.  How tall are they, what are their dimensions, and did you use any internal braces to keep the boxes from collapsing?
A. They’re 18 inches high, 4′ X 6′, and no, they have no braces. With the thick wood and heavy nails they can withstand leaning, kneeling, and the occasional frustrated kick when the cabbage moths show up.

Q. What did you use for weed suppressant ground cover?
A. Well, confession time….we used landscape fabric under the gravel pathways between the beds. We know, we know, it’s not the most environmentally conscious choice. If we were re-installing today, we’d probably forgo the fabric. The detritus from spilled soil and decaying plants builds up quickly anyway, and the weeds sprout just fine on top of the fabric (as weeds will do.) Lately we’ve looking at investing in a flamethrower. Seriously. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, and trying to keep things tidy for visitors isn’t easy. One other option is to simply allow just enough room between beds for a push mower to pass, and let the grass grow.

Q. What about irrigation?
A.  We sank a few 4X4 posts into the ground and mounted sprinklers on them. They are connected to hoses which run to a pumped well. Overhead watering isn’t good for all plants, though, and can lead to fungus and mildews on tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, squash and others. So we plant those varieties out of range of the sprinklers and rely on soaker hoses for them. We use a timer since sometimes we’re in the city for extended periods. (If not easily removed, all hoses must be drained completely for winter storage.)

by Josh and Brent

Reader Comments

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Sandy

Hi Guys

What do you use in your beds for fertilizer?

Do you start seeds indoors or plant directly ito to garden?

Your garden looks great.

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Dan The Gardener

What a great picture of The Beekman Heirloom Garden. All those raised beds look great. I have used the Orange TKO to treat my raised beds and it worked great

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Andrea

Greetings,

The gathering places for my Box Elder Bugs are not ones that I would dare to use a flame thrower! The pile up by the 100's around windows, doors, corners, etc – mostly outside the house but currently, I keep finding a few here and there inside (ick).

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Carla D'Anna

Hi guys,

I've found another use for my flame weeder. These "new" invasive stink bugs like to congregate in aggregates. I figure that leaf is a goner anyway and direct a blast from the flame weeder at them. Hundreds of stink bugs drop instantly. Yay! I also used it for a huge aggregate of Box Elder Bugs in the mulch around my shed. If I move fast with the flame and especially if the mulch is damp there is very little actual unintentional flaming of mulch, etc. I can easily stomp it out. I keep a hose handy as well but have not needed it as yet.

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Christy

Hi guys! So excited you will be back on next month! Just saw my first ad the other night.

I fell in love with you and your show last year. You really crack me up sometimes, but you are also both so heartfelt and real.

I am writing to tell you that you have inspired me to try a garden again. We are dog lovers, so there has been many a lesson learned on backyard gardening. I eventually just gave up.

Watching you grow heirloom veggies and use them in such beautiful and practical ways really got to me. I felt the gardening itch beginning to build in me once again! Then over the holidays while mingling at a friends backyard party I suddenly realized I was staring at the answer to my doggie dilemma! Covered planter boxes!

Our friend's homemade planters were perfect for my yard! They were about 8' long, 2' wide, 3' tall, covered in chicken wire with a hinged top for access! NICE! I was hooked!

Being that I've learned many things about husbands and "honey-do" projects over the years…I began working on him to build me some for spring right then and there! Hint: it helps to ask sweetly if he thinks he could replicate "in front of" the male friend that gardens! LOL

Over the next weeks I purchased some heirloom seeds from Landrath and began researching how to start them early. Mind you, I grew up with a school teacher that had a green thumb, so I knew a little, just not a lot!

I am happy to say I've had a pretty good yeild on my seedlings and have now transplanted many of them to larger pots for a few weeks until it's time to plant outside. My first planter is 3/4 finished, (ya, I know) but the materials for the second are standing by and I am relentless in pursuit of my garden! I am just a beginner so I'm hoping to have at least "some" success, but I also know there will be some failures.

Thank you so much for reminding me how much I truly love working with the soil and growing things! I have always felt so in tune with the seasons, and nature in general, so this is going to just be heaven for me.

I encourage everyone to recycle, recycle, recycle. You will be amazed at what you can save and recycle for gardening uses. I will send you guys pictures when my planters are complete!

Keep spreading the knowledge and love around boys! You are truly inspiring!

Love ya!

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Marc Bachrodt

Hi guys,

I wanted to share some tips from my 78 year old father-in-law who has been a gardener his entire life and grows the most beautiful veggies ever:

He sprinkles cayenne pepper on squash/zuchinni plants to help control squash bugs. He also uses a nicotine spray on the underneath sides of the leaves where most squash bugs live -works like a charm. (a couple of cig. butts in a gallon of water for a couple of days. Pour into spray bottle and have at. The nicotine will not harm the plants or you. This is easier if you know a smoker of course – I wouldn’t suggest to anyone that you run out and buy a pack just for this. I’m sure Dr. Brent would agree with that). You can use this spray on all veggies. (Historical note: Nicotine was used early on as the very first pesticide!)

He also uses a half cup of whole milk on his tomato plants every other day. This adds much needed calcium and he never has tomato rot because of it. (Getting your soil tested often by your local extension office is always a great idea).

For compost tea take your compost and put it on a screen ( I use an old window screen with it’s original frame) and pour water over it. Put a bucket underneath to catch the water and you have instant compost tea. Water your plants with this and they will love you for it. Spread the remaining compost on your plants.

The use of a small insect vacuum works well with organic gardening. Just vacuum up the little bugs and dump ’em into a bucket of water. The suction is enough to gather up the bugs but not the plant leaves.

He has used the pie tins forever and they work wonders. He grows grapes and has no problem with birds due to the pie tins. You can even use the metallic lid of a coffee can or the shiny pull off foil of some coffee cans as well. It’s more the flicker they create than the sound of the tin hitting a post that keeps the birds away.

For in-home compost buckets that reside in the pantry or under the sink: tear up some old newspaper and put in the bucket. This will help absorb moisture and help to keep the bugs at bay. (Paper towels or used napkins work well too).

Hope these help!

Marc

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Michele

Hi Brent,Josh

First thing I adore both of you. You are living my dream.

I have an organic garden myself,60 by 45 and although not the size of the one you have, know how much work it takes. Thank you for your information, on building the raised beds. I will be building them as soon as I can get in the garden.

I know it's only January, but I have already started planning my garden, truth be told, I'm usually planning for the spring planting before the end of fall. I will be ordering your vegetable and flower seeds. Would like to know about how many seeds for each variety there are, so I know if one pack will be enough. Looking foward to the new season.

Thank You

Michele

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Goat Weed

Wonderful plan hot to build your own heaven on earth! You may read lot's of book about gardening but no one helps you to build a unique and amazing garden. All you need is to work..work hard.

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Billie

Are there any books or websites you would recommend for first time gardening? I'm planning on growing my first garden next year. Thanks!

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Invisible Gardener

a few suggestions

a.

1 get 8 oz crushed garlic

2. pour contents into panty hose

3. tie into ball and squeeze the garlic into a gallon water.

4. spray regularly

5. bury the remaining garlic under plant!

b.

you never mentioned what you were feeding your tomato and in what it was planted.

1. mix equal amounts of compost/azalea mix with 1 lb alfalfa meal, 1 lb rock dust, 1 lb earthworm castings

2. spray plant regularly with coffee cream and sugar to keep bric levels up (1 cup mil, 1/2 cup molasses in 1 quart liquid fresh organic coffee.

c. what variety? Always grow heirloom and you wont have that problem.

hope that helps you and dont give up!

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Cee Cee

Thanks for the suggestions. The bugs are like little mites very tiny.. my tomatoes were ruined this year. It was also so hot here that it was very difficult to grow anything. We are in Augusta ga. How do I make Garlic water? I am working on a fall garden now and want it to be totally organic. Any good websites for suggestions??

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Ashoban

@Cee Cee – If the bugs you mention look like tiny white moths, then what you have are whiteflies. Unless they're present in overwhelming numbers, they'll be a nuisance but won't harm the fruit. In large enough numbers they can rob the plants of moisture, so you may need to keep them well-watered. Spraying garlic water to repel them is a good suggestion; also, many fragrant herbs will deter insects. Try planting chamomile, lavender or rosemary near your tomatoes. Whitefly mainly affects plants which are started indoors, so one way to minimize them might be to wait until it's warm enough to sow seed directly in your beds.

The only sure deterrent for birds is netting draped or suspended over the plants. I've been lucky enough not to have that sort of problem (yet), but my grandfather used to swear by pie plates–the thin, 'disposable' tin ones you can find in the grocery store. He would dangle them from strings attached to the tops of long wooden stakes every six feet or so along his rows of raspberry bushes. A slight breeze would be all it would take to cause each plate to swing and spin. The motion, reflections, and noise of the plates hitting the stakes seemed to scare the birds off. If you (and your neighbors) can deal with the sound effects, this might be a solution.

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Invisible Gardener

1. learn to use garlic.. either as a spray or buried under plant

2. i assume they are organic and heirloom?

3. what are you feeding the plants?

4. use a refractometer to measure bric..higher bric means no pest/disease

5. for birds soak chickpeas in whisky for one hour or so then place out for birds to eat. will need to go thru all local birds that are eating there, then use as needed

andy lopez

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Cee Cee

What do you do about pest control in your garden. I had a terrible time this year with bugs and the tomatoes… They are covered in teeny little bugs and I think that birds are also using my garden as a buffet… any suggestions… Anyone????

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Chassie

Hey guys!

My husband and I have a large garden in our back yard. We're the subdivision anamoly and the envy of the neighbors because of all our fresh produce. We also compost all of our grass clippings, leaves, (appropriate) leftovers, etc. to use on the garden. We had an awful time with grass growning becuase of the grass clippings in the mulch. My husband DID by a flame thrower and burned all the seed before he turned the garden for this first time this year. It worked wonders…and he was able to use the flame thrower. He was in heaven.

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Jillian

Love that you're using bunny poop! We have worm bins that we dump our spent bedding in, and the worms love it.

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Rachel

I can't wait for your store, next summer i am going to sharon springs for my sweet sixteen birthday present i can not wait to see your store!

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Connie Wedding

I can't wait to force my husband to build me some of those raised beds! LOL! Maybe in the spring, or even better, this fall! Do you recommend throwing lots of grass clippings and dried leaves on the top to improve soil? Is there any particular soil mixture that you like?

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Arlene Wagner

I love that you guys are trying to be as eco-friendly as possible. For my raised bed veggie garden we used old tree trunks. We back up to some woods, so there is always an ample supply of fallen trees. When one of the trunks starts to get rotted, we just replace the old trunk with a new one. We also make our own compost. Every year we have enough compost to add to the veggie and the new flower beds that we are constantly fixing. I'm going to have to try to make your trellises for next year!

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MAYBELLINE

Please consider concrete blocks to build raised beds to last. I didn't use any weed suppressant in my garden. The depth of the soil in the bed eliminates weeds growing from below. The occasional weed in the gravel can be kicked out on my daily pass through the garden. Also, please encourage water conservation. Here in California it is a sweet (and expensive) resource. Drip irrigation is the most efficient method to conserve water and eliminate fungus.

Your use of bunny poop is to be applauded. That is THE best fertilizer I have ever used.

Thank you for providing this forum to share and learn. You boys are invited to my garden party anytime.

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Jennelle

Hello, I am growing Basil and I have found a green worm yuk.. he has eaten big ole holes in my beautiful leaves 🙁 so how do I get rid of him or them? I found 2 and removed them with my hand but I dont want him back..please help.

I am a first time growing long time cook so I need some help. Thank you so much.

Sorry for the misspled words Im a Terrible dyslexic.

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Carla D'Anna

I just got a Mini Dragon Flame Weeder. In my case the small disposable LP tanks are good. You would likely want the bigger version. I really like it. After it rains I head out to flame weeds while the ground is still wet. I have wood chip and grass clipping mulches.

I find it effective for newly germinated plants but not very good for established ones.

My plan is to prepare my raised beds in the fall and flame any new weeds in early spring before planting the cool weather crops. Hopefully this will allow me to minimize stirring up new weed seed.

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Ali

My watering question from an earlier posted comment is now answered. Thank you! 🙂 Now, I'm only curious if you could tell a bit about those wire cages/hoops that you appear to be using, I assume, as a trellis? Do I have that right?

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Invisible Gardener

Hi

You can treat the wood with a great citrus product called OrangeTKO. It is pure citrus concentrate which when applied to the wood will treat the wood and preserve it for many years. It is also a great cleaner, control termites, mold, ants, etc.

Thought you would like to know. Love what yo all are doing.

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bruce johnson

you mention visitors in your blog about how does your garden grow. do you sell the eggs, vegetables and soap on site? i will be passing by on my way to Cornell and would like to purchase your products. eggs, goat milk, soap etc. thanks.

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Dr. Brent

Hi, Bruce

When are you coming our way? We are just putting the finishing touches on the first-ever Beekman 1802 shop right on Main Street in Sharon Springs. We'll be open for the season on May 15

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