How to Build a Raised Permaculture Bed




About: We believe that sustainable food production and security can be achieved in every backyard.

This is step 2 in our Easy and Productive gardening instructable and a great way to build a raised permaculture bed. Permaculture is an agricultural system that looks at preserving the earth while producing goods for human consumption. There's a lot to learn about this subject and you can get a quick over view at the wikipedia page, but we're not going to delve too deep into the topic here. Instead we've boiled down our research to show you how to build a long lasting raised bed permaculture system in your garden. The good news is, you can walk to the woods for most of your materials!

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Step 1: Gather Your Materials

For 4 beds you will need:

  • A minimum of 16 Logs from the forest floor
  • A Multitude of Branches from the forest floor
  • Ramial Chipped Wood (you'll be able to get this directly from ownFood soon)
  • Soil mix of 1/3 sand, 1/3 clay and 1/3 Forest Humus
  • Your choice of open source Restoration Seeds

Optional for frames:

  • 12 pieces of 200 x 15,5 cm Wood Planks
  • 250 cm of 5 x 5 cm Wood
  • 64 Phillips Head screws

Step 2: Plan Your Final Greenhouse Layout

We recommend that you use half of your greenhouse space for permaculture beds. The way you arrange these will affect the final placement of your aquaponic system if you intend to install one (see electronics tutorial in our instructables list).

Step 3: Prepare the Space

The get the area ready for permaculture beds you have 2 options, you could:

  • Dig trenches for your raised beds that are about 30 cm deep


  • Build simple wood frames out of wood planks if you cannot dig into your ground. (What is pictured here)

The measurements of your wood frames or trenches can vary according to the floor plan you envision for your permaculture garden. We recommend that you use approx. half the space of your future greenhouse for permaculture beds.

Step 4: Begin Your Raised Bed

Now that you have made a plan and prepared the area it is just a matter of assembly! This shouldn't take too long.
  • Place about 4 large logs that you found in a forest in the base of your bed
  • 4 logs is based on a bed that is 2 m long.

Step 5: Introduce Branches

  • Fill the space around the logs with branches and twigs from the forest floor
  • Cover the logs with this material as well.

We hope you have a nice walk when you go collect these materials :)

Step 6: Add Another Layer

  • Cover the branches and twigs completely with Ramial Chipped Wood, about 10 cm deep.

Step 7: Cover With Soil

  • Create a soil mix that is 1/3 clay 1/3 sand and 1/3 humus from the forest
  • Cover the bed with that mixture, so that the soil is about about 15 cm deep

Step 8: Finish the Bed

  • Cover the bed with the final layer of Ramial Chipped Wood
  • This layer should be about 5 cm deep

Step 9: Plant Vegetables

  • We'll have an app available soon to help pair plants together. This will help protect against pests and attract good insects, one of the fundamental principles of permaculture.
  • Grow seedlings faster in ZipGrow towers, in the event you went for it and created the complete system all at once
  • Plant your seedlings into the permaculture beds
  • Wait for your vegetables to be harvested!

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    13 Discussions


    3 years ago

    how do you prevent termites from getting into the wood you put underneath, seems ideal for them?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Hopefully, we don't have that many termites in France ^^


    3 years ago

    I love the idea and want to be part of the permaculture uh..culture! BUT I live in the desert and don't have access to these materials. What can us desert rats do?? I have problems composting due to our HOT dry weather, too.

    5 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Hi dear Annabella Marie
    find a way to do what you want with low cost and local materials
    as the fuana and flora are differnt in each climates we should be able to change the farming our gardening in differnt situations
    look carefully and i m sure you will find the way.the nature always guide us to the best

    would you tell us about your problems with composting?


    Reply 3 years ago

    It dries out very quickly and nothing rots. It just dries up. I tried to moisten it every day and kept it on the east side of the house to keep it out of the late afternoon sun. I don't add meat or animal waste; just vegetable matter. I also added some shredded newspaper and a digestive enzyme powder, which was supposed to break it all down. I've used a pile, wire, boards, and a barrel. Used a perforated PVC pipe to get water to the middle. I can't afford, nor do I want, a commercial composter.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I would suggest watching permaculture educator Geoff Lawton in his project called "Greening the desert," (Youtube) for inspiration. They went into Jordan and they developed a permaculture garden where nothing existed before. This kind of re-greening has also been done in the Loess Plateau in China. "Hope in a Changing Climate" is also an excellent doco on the Loess Plateau. You'll be amazed! Also if you can somehow find leaf matter to help amend your compost that would help. I've seen people throw old carpets or mats aover compost piles to keep them from drying out. There's a great group over at that have great threads and discussions and you may also find other desert dwellers there also. Good luck!


    Reply 3 years ago

    how is the quality of soil?
    could you take some photos of the region and the land you are working on it?


    3 years ago

    what is the purpose of putting the logs and branches into the grow bed? Won't those just be obstacles for you plants. For example carrots would be stunted when it ran into a log. I am not sure I understand why you wouldn't just fill the bed with all good growing soil.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    What they are demonstrating with the wood is behind the concept of Hugelkultur. It's slightly different in these steps as true hugelkulture piles the mounds in higher raised beds, making them more vertical. However, the rotting logs and twigs are put inside the base, mulch and soil is piled on top and then you can plant your material. The wood acts like a sponge as it decomposes, thereby you need to water the bed less. That and mulching all garden beds saves on water. A better example of it is found here: