What are Ergonomic Gardens raised beds made of?

  • We sourced materials and designed our products around the elements iron and zinc. Both are essential micronutrients for plant and human life. A number of crops respond positively to the presence of zinc in soil.[1],[2]
  • The zinc in galvanized steel is very stable, and oxidation is slow, on the order of years to decades. This process is dependent on factors like soil type, pH, hydration,[3] and what fertilizers are applied. A soil pH below 5 is quite acidic and not recommended. Once liberated, zinc is strongly complexed in soil and a small percentage of it is bioavailable based on pH and soil type. Your plants will regulate the amount of zinc they take up and provide in fruits and vegetables.

When is the best time for starting a raised bed garden with an Ergonomic Gardens garden bed?

  • Autumn is an excellent time. The weather is good and there are plenty of materials available from fall cleanup to build your hügelkultur method biome. You won’t be rushed to get them filled in the fall. Your beds can settle in over the winter and in the spring, you can top them off with amendments and plant. You will be surprised how early you can work the soil in the spring if you get your raised beds set up in the fall. Get your frost tolerant vegetables started earlier than ever.
  • Like planting a tree, the best time to start your raised bed was yesterday ;-). We are ready for your order as soon as the snow breaks and any time through the summer and fall.

There are other metal raised garden beds on the market that are cheaper. Why buy an Ergonomic Gardens bed?

  • We designed our garden beds to be the best elevated planters on the market.
  • We chose the very best fasteners, comfort top trim and USA sourced steel we could find. 
  • We were careful to select materials we wanted in contact with our garden soil. 
  • Our garden beds are manufactured by us, right here in Maine, USA.
  • The biggest investment you will make is your time in filling and tending these garden beds. You are only doing this once. Do it right.

    What if we are not in your delivery zones? What do we do?

    • Contact us! We can often work something out. 

    Can we see the beds before buying?

    • As an e-retailer we do not have a storefront where you can view the products. Contact us. We can often work something out.

      Do these garden beds have a bottom?

      • Our raised garden beds don’t have a bottom. They are fully open to the ground. This is best for the soil biome, drainage, and soil temperature.

      What is the best wood to use for a raised garden bed?

      • Wood rots away fast. If you have wooden raised beds you know all about this. The best material to use is USA sourced steel.

      Will you deliver in the winter and around the gifting seasons?

      • Yes, but we would avoid delivering them while the roads are wet and salted. We just need to work around the weather.
      • We also offer gift cards in the store.

      Is assembly difficult?

      • Not at all, our raised beds can be assembled in under 15 minutes with the fewest bolts and panels on the market. We have a YouTube video that shows assembly (There is a link to our channel at the top of the page). So far, we haven’t found a bed that is easier to assemble. They are sheet metal, so assembly requires protective gloves, shoes, and sleeves. A high quality top trim edge is supplied with our beds. We assembled and placed all the raised beds we delivered in 2023 as part of our service. It is very easy and chatting about your garden while we do that is the best part of our job.

      What is the best fill for a raised garden bed?

      • Don’t rely on valuable (expensive) soil to fill these beds! We recommend the hügelkultur method. It is cost effective and creates an excellent soil biome while offering a good balance of drainage and water retention. Ideally, logs and sticks are followed by layers of brush, leaves and eventually compost and topsoil. Allowing a few months for the bed soil biome to establish is best but we’ve planted on these raised beds right away and did well.
      • Obtaining logs can be a logistical challenge and they are not easy to handle (heavy and different sizes and shapes). We like wood chips as a compromise. Wood chips are much easier to source, move and handle while filling beds. Fresh wood chips are not perfect, they drain a little fast at first and can require some fertilizer to replenish nitrogen lost in breaking them down. After a couple of months though, wood chips swell and do a better job at water retention. Fall storms keep arborists busy making wood chips so it is a perfect time to start a raised garden bed.
      • Take care! A big pile of green wood chips can get very hot and even reach combustion temperatures. Flatten the pile out so it does not retain as much heat, keep it away from structures. We took temperature readings of 110 oF on cool days in beds newly filled with fresh wood chips due to biological processes! After 3-4 weeks, the beds cooled off. After a few months, woodchips are on their way to becoming soil in a bed that is regularly watered.
      • Either way, prepare for several inches of settling in the first year. Crown the beds up and/or have a plan for adding soil amendments in the fall or spring. Soil amendments are an easy and awesome boost to a great garden.

      How long will Ergonomic Gardens beds last?

      • This is a complicated question. We can’t set up our beds and test them for 50 years under all soil conditions, but we can get a reasonable estimate from industry data.
      • Our galvanization is ~20 micrometers thick on each side.
        • Under normal gardening conditions, this coating will protect the underlying steel for 20-50 years in contact with soil.
        • Under ideal conditions, they could last more than 50 years!
        • A worst-case combination of saturated, acidic soil (pH < 5) and high chloride content may reduce life dramatically.[4] This would be difficult to achieve and maintain. We do not recommend these conditions, even if you find something that can grow in it.
      • We chose a heavier gauge steel than our competitors and a composition specific to agricultural applications so that we will be “best in class” for raised garden bed longevity. Competitive beds commonly last ~10 years.
      • Galvanized steel over time will eventually oxidize and surface staining is possible. This is likely near cut edges and fastener holes. This may take 20, 10 or 5 years depending on environmental conditions. For example, a high salt/chloride, high moisture, low pH condition will drive the process faster. Isolated surface staining will not hurt your plants or shorten the life of your bed.

      Where can I put my Ergonomic Gardens bed?

      • On the ground! Plan paths for wheelbarrows and other implements. Once filled, these beds are heavy. You’ll be watering them often. Connection with the ground is best for maintaining soil hydration, soil biome and temperature. Decks and other structures are not compatible with these heavy, open bottom elevated planters. Concrete and paved surfaces may hold the weight but may also present hydration, biome, and temperature challenges. If you live on ledge/rock, put the raised beds right on there, level them out and start gardening!

      [1] Zinc for crop production. Apurba K. Sutradhar, Daniel E. Kaiser & Carl J. Rosen; University of Minnesota Extension.

      [2] Zinc in soils, water and food crops. Noulas, Tziouvalekas & Karyotis; Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology Vol 49, 2018, p.252-260.

      [3] Hot-Dip Galvanized Steel’s Contribution to Zinc Levels in the Soil Environment. American Galvanizers Association, 2013 https://galvanizeit.org/uploads/publications/Galvanized_Steel_Contribution_Zinc_Soil_Environment.pdf

      [4] Service Life of Galvanized Steel Articles in Soil Applications. American Galvanizers Association, 2011. https://galvanizeit.org/hot-dip-galvanizing/how-long-does-hdg-last/in-soil/soil-corrosion-data