In this instructable I first show how to make a raised bed garden and then I cover how to install the electric fence (9-volt) that is used to keep slugs out of the garden. Once finished the bed is light enough for two people to lift and move to the permanent location.
Step 1: Here's the Video on Building the Bed and Installing the Wires
The video gives an overview with lots of details on building the bed, installing the slug control wires, and testing the bed with both a meter and live slugs to make sure everything is working properly.
The next steps give further details on the overall construction, installation and testing of the raised bed.
Oops! In the video I typed 6x6x6 fence boards - should have been 1x6x6
Step 2: Building the Bed
Although I used mostly power tools to make the bed it is also practical to use just hand tools or a combination of both. I decided to use treated wood for this bed but certainly no problem using untreated wood instead.
Here's what's needed to make the bed
- 11 1x6x6 pressure treated fence boards
- 1 2x4x8 pressure treated (I ripped the 2x4 length-wise to make the corner and center blocks but this is optional as you can just cross cut the pcs directly from the 2x4)
- Nails or screws 1-1/2 or 2 inches
Essential tools needed (see note above)
- Hammer or screwdriver
- Tape measure
Crosscut three of the fence boards in two to end up with six of the required end pieces
Rip the 2x4 in two length-wise (or just leave it as is and go with 2x4 end and center blocks)
Cut 6 equal length center and end blocks. Each should be about 16-1/2 inches long
Nail (or screw) the end and center blocks to each set of three full length fence boards.
Have someone help hold the two side units while you nail on one of the 3 foot end boards (or use clamps to help with this part of the assembly).
Finish nailing on all six of the end boards
Measure the inside distance between the center of the assembly from one side to the other. Mark this length on the two remaining fence boards and crosscut to the mark.
Nail these two board between the two sides on the center blocks. These support board are important in that they will prevent the bed from bulging due to the weight of the soil.
That completes the bed assembly!
Step 3: Installing the Slug Control Wires
In the past I've used aluminum welding wire and galvanized steel wire. Now I use stainless steel welding wire as it will not rust and therefore should last for a long time. I found aluminum welding wire lasts for just one year and the galvanized wire eventually rusts.
Here's what's needed for the slug control part of the project
- 0.030 (0.8 mm) welding wire
- 3/8 inch stainless steel staples
- 9-volt battery connector
- 9-volt battery
Essential tools required
- staple gun
- pliers (for twisting and cutting the wires)
Pencil two parallel guide lines around the full perimeter of the raised bed. The first line about one inch from the top of the top board. The second line should be spaced about 1/2 inch from the first line. I used a marking gauge to draw the lines but a straight edge and pencil is a good alternative.
Staple the first run of SS wire in place completely around the raised bed. Turn the stapler on an angle to keep the staples from spanning the distance between the wires. Cut the wire off and twist the two ends together. Good idea to go around the entire bed again and add staples as required to ensure there is no chance of the wire drooping enough to touch the second wire.
Install the second run of wire.
Staple the twisted ends of the two wire runs securely in place before trimming in preparation for installation of the battery connector. Note the stainless steel wire is stiff enough to hold in place when bridging the top wire over the bottom wire. It's important to have a good space between the two wires.
Install the 9-volt battery connector by stripping off a short length of insulation from the red and black wires and then twisting each wire to the ends of the SS wire runs. Once twisted together you should mechanically stabilize the connected ends by stapling them to the board.
Check for any entry routes for slugs and fill them in with a piece of wood (see last photo)
That completes the slug control part of the project (except for plugging in the battery)
Step 4: Setting the Bed in Place and Testing the Slug Control System
Lift and move the bed to the garden location that you have chosen. Once in place use a level and some rocks or treated wood scraps to level the bed up. Load the bed with soil and amend the soil as required. In my case I added some peat moss and some commercial soil mix. Install the 9-volt battery.
Good idea to make sure the battery connections are ok by measuring the voltage between the two wire runs as shown in the photo. Alternatively find a slug or two and let them head for the control wires (see video).
Now you are ready to do some planting.
For more info and videos on this subject and lots of other subjects you can check out my Youtube channel here:
- slugs usually turn away from the wires once they get the tingle
- the slugs will almost always go away as they are not usually harmed by the tingle
- the last photo in this step shows an older bed with the SS wires doing what they are supposed to do