The concise answer is that everyone eats, so these garden beds are likely to be the best investment you can be involved in, and we explain why below.
Investments are usually judged by the return received as well as the life span and the stability of the instrument involved.
As an investment, metal raised garden beds can give a return that can outperform many other types of investment. However, the return is measured in several ways, not just monetary.
In the crazy world we are living, food stability and resilience are something to be desired if your head is screwed on the right way. This is where the metal raised garden bed shines.
The life span of these beds can be measured in decades. The return is through food, where the quality is unquestionable, and the amount you get at harvest is equal to the amount of effort you put into the garden.
The food grown in these beds, or any garden for that matter, is outside the financial system where taxes and ticket clippers line the path of your hard-earned dollar.
The security of growing your own food in metal raised garden beds gives rise to comfort in troubled times, and that is the best investment available.
Other considerations to this investment show that it is not all straight-up easy-going, as explained in “Organic raised bed gardening : what are the disadvantages?”.
There are a few other items to look at; some of these are addressed in this article.
How much do metal raised garden beds cost?
Cost can be seen as a cash flow out of your hands. Still, it can also be seen as an opportunity cost if you continue buying your vegetables and do not grow your own. You decide the outcome and eventual price that is paid.
The monetary cost of metal raised garden beds will vary because of location, availability, material costs, and demand. Since the pandemic has broken the world, the need for garden beds has been very high, becoming acute with supply chain issues and transport problems.
A few short years ago, the cost of a good quality birdies garden bed was somewhat lower, but the price for this product is now $329usd and $350 ish aud. We use this quality product ourselves and are happy to promote it without any financial connection or compensation.
There is a time to construct cost to add to these garden beds if you can’t put one together. This should be no more than a few hours of labor, including ground preparation and garden bed construction.
Just add a few hours of local labor cost to get an all-in price. Then it is time to consider the soil.
Any fill that is free from any industrial use that involves chemicals of any sort should be used to fill these beds to the 3/4 mark. Then the best quality topsoil should be used to top up the rest of the garden bed.
“Making organic garden soil for raised garden beds” explains how we obtain the topsoil, and this method may be available to you.
Are all metal garden beds the same?
No, they are not the same, just like every other product available to all of us. There is often a significant variation in quality that can be hidden in the price.
We personally have two types that are made with similar materials. Still, one is professionally produced, and the other type is a rushed job by someone who is not in the business of making metal raised garden beds generally.
They are roofing plumbers who roll the roofing sheets into the shape of garden beds. We ended up with these because the popular brand was unavailable when we needed garden beds. The cost was similar, but the quality was very different.
What should you look out for when buying a metal raised bed?
The things to be aware of before you buy are the quality of the metal, both in the garden bed wall, and the fasteners used to hold it together. Stainless steel fasteners should be used, and either galvanized steel or zinc-alum sheeting should be used for the side walls.
“Can edges on corrugated steel garden beds be made safe?” explains what we mean. A good quality safety edge strip is a plus. If the garden bed you are considering doesn’t supply one, some garden hose or poly tubing (irrigation poly pipe) can be sliced along its length and clipped over the sharp edge to make it safe.
If the garden bed has a bit of height and is pretty long, it is best to have what could be called a belly bolt that keeps the sides from splaying out like a bloated cow’s belly when the soil is put in the bed.
Are metal raised garden beds the best type?
Metal raised gardens are great, but they have a few cons that we are well aware of. We would not say they are the best because everyone has different needs and climates.
The metal garden beds will outlast a timber garden bed, but the metal beds allow the sun to heat up the soil in some situations. “Does the soil in metal raised garden beds get hot?” goes into quite some detail on the effects of the sun on the sides of these metal garden beds.
Every material used in a garden bed to hold the soil in place has pros and cons, so do your homework before jumping. A few articles that can help here are “What is the safest material for organic raised bed gardening?” and “Organic raised bed gardening disadvantages. “
Are there any good alternatives to metal raised garden beds?
As explained in the link above on the safest materials, every type of construction has its own set of issues.
The choice is yours to make, but after a lot of investigation and research, our selection led us to the birdies raised garden bed system. We now have 5 of these garden beds, with a few more to come.
There are a lot of factors to consider with raised beds, and often it comes down to aesthetics over function. Some gardens look fantastic with a blend of wood and corrugated steel sheets, but the look will fade soon because all wood rots.
Garden beds made with timber rot faster. “Does timber edging for gardens last?” explains what we mean.
Will a garden bed save me money eventually?
Yes, most definitely, this will happen. With the cost of food going absolutely nuts these days, the investment in raised garden beds cannot be understated for the family looking to save some cash. This is a variable that is entirely up to you, the grower.
We keep a spreadsheet that shows the food production from across our yard. This includes the garden beds, the many fruit trees, and all the plant varieties we grow in the ground, like ginger and turmeric.
We suggest you start up something similar to help keep track of the food value as the years roll forward. It is phenomenal how much value you can grow from a garden bed over time.
How long before a raised garden bed pays back its cost?
The payback period for a raised garden bed depends on how active you are as a gardener. We try to keep our beds as full as possible, but this is often hard because of our dry season, which gets pretty hot at the same time.
Because of where we live, we also have a very constrained cooler season to grow things like cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, etc.
We can get great results if the season is mild, but being tropical, this cannot be planned for with any confidence. But even with all of the temperature issues we face each year, we have been able to have these metal raised garden beds pay us back in under two years.
There is a way to fast-track the payback process, and it involves planting heavily with vegetables that can be shelf stored and are easy to grow. This is a form of food banking, and it starts in the garden.
This garden is growing snake beans now and should deliver a good crop that will help us get through the next six to nine months with stored beans even after eating a heap during the growing season.
This is becoming easier for anyone who can now get hold of these beds because of the food price. It is off the charts and getting worse each week. The bonus of all this is that you can trust the quality of homegrown food.
So there you have it. There is now every reason for you to start on the path of growing some of your vegetables in metal raised garden beds or any garden bed if cash is short. The important thing is to just get started and place the beds in the best orientation. “Raised garden beds : does it matter what direction they face?” explains this.
Food resilience matters now more than ever, and it is a great subject to get the kids involved with. For more information on garden beds, use the search icon at the top and enter “garden beds,” That will present all articles we have on this topic in one place for you.
Article by Tim Blanch for TheTropicalHomestead.com. He is a qualified Permaculture designer.