If you’re not sure what’s lurking in your yard, you should get the soil tested before you plant edibles. Because my house is more than 90 years old, it was a pretty safe bet that the soil is contaminated with lead and probably some other nasty heavy metals, so raised beds were my best bet.

Not being tremendously handy, I had no idea if I could pull off the fairly simple looking instructions I found here. When building raised beds, it’s important to use untreated lumber. Much of the less expensive wood at your neighborhood hardware store is treated with arsenic or formeldahyde to prevent rotting. Needless to say, those aren’t molecules you’d want getting into your food. I chose untreated cedar, which while more expensive that untreated pine has the potential to last for 5-10 years if I maintain it properly. It also looks pretty nice, as well, with a coat of linseed oil for added protection.

To accomodate my starter garden, I built two 4’X8′ beds for vegetables and one 2’x4′ bed for herbs. Not too shabby for someone without a ton of woodworking skills!

Raised beds built and ready.