How To Build A Vegetable Box

One of the first things I wanted to do in our garden was make a vegetable patch. We’re lucky enough to have a relatively large strip of backyard that gets full sun almost all day so growing vegetables here was a no brainer. After some lengthy discussions with my partner, we decided on two 1 x 1.7m boxes. We decided on two boxes so it was easier to tend to the vegetables. I wanted the boxes knee high so I didn’t have to bend over too much but my partner thought this would look too imposing. I’m a full time nurse and spend my spare time gardening so my back goes through a lot! Given I was the one who would be tending to the vegetables (my partner has 2 brown thumbs and no interest in gardening), I got my way.

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My Dad bought the treated pine from Mitre 10, all pre-cut to size, and it turned out that, given the width of the pine, it would either have to go just below the knee (two sleepers high), or just above it (three sleepers high). Dad made the right decision and got enough pine for three sleepers high. Having the boxes this high didn’t look imposing, especially once the vegetables were planted and bursting out over the edge. And given we are only ever going to have two vegetable boxes (we live in an inner city suburb of Melbourne, so don’t have ample space!), we didn’t have to think about cost of future, matching vegetable boxes.

Materials required (for two boxes):

  • 1.7m long treated pine sleepers x 12
  • 1m long treated pine sleepers x 12
  • 0.6m high treated pine posts x 8
  • 150mm long galvanised bolts (see photo) x 96
  • 50mm long galvanised nails
  • Metal tension straps x 8 (optional)
  • 20mm long galvanised screws x 48 (optional)
  • 120mm x 5200mm clear plasting sheeting x 2 (optional)
  • 20mm long galvanised nails x 50 (optional)
  • Pencil
  • 600mm clamp
  • Drill and bit
  • Hammer
  • Ruler
  • Tape measure

Line up 3 of the 1.7m long pine sleepers and clamp together. Measure the distance from the edge where you want your nails to go and put two nails in each sleeper to secure it to the post. These are just to hold it together for assembly, then you can put the bolts in and the nails become obsolete. Repeat for the other side. It’s easiest to screw down the tension straps at this point to help prevent the sleepers moving apart but these are optional.

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Nail the two shorter ends onto the posts, adding one sleeper at a time. We chose to have the ends facing the longer side to give the box more length, but you can go either way. Ensure you make your decision when you begin so you know how far out from the sleepers edge to nail your posts.

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Once the box has been constructed it’s time to bolt it together. Measure out where you want your bolts to go (you will need two bolts at the end of each sleeper to prevent bowing), and drill out the holes.

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Secure the bolts in place. These sleepers aren’t going anywhere! The extra bit of post you see in this picture is to help dig the box into the ground.

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We added a border of recycled bricks around the boxes and a small paved area in between to finish them off. To avoid any seepage staining the pine I nailed some clear plastic sheeting to the inside of the vegetable boxes. I just used clear table protector plastic from Bunnings and it’s so far done the trick.

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Chuck in some dirt (we used a 5 way soil from Fulton’s – a blend of 2 soils and 3 manures), plant your veggies, add some pea straw on top, and watch your veggies burst out of the box in thanks!

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