For part 1, see this Blog Entry.
The Raised Bed Kit I bought from Natural Yards.com is 2 feet x 4 feet x 11 inches tall. The kt consists of 8 pieces of wood (4 long pieces and 4 shorter pieces). Each piece of wood is 5.5 inches tall, so two tiers are needed to make the 11 inches height.
The picture to the left shows the untreated pieces of wood. I put old newspapers under the wood so that the stain would not get on my driveway.
I chose a sunny day (~75 degrees F) to apply the stain, so that the wood would dry faster. I wanted to be able to coat several layers of stain on all sides of the wood in a single day.
The picture to the right shows the pieces of wood after I had applied one coat of stain.
The picture below shows how the corners of the kit come together. There is a wedge that is cut
off of each piece of lumber and a hole was drilled through. The long piece of lumber will fit together with a short piece at a right angle. The holes line up and you slide a metal rod through the hole to lock the wood in place.
The best thin about this system is that I can take the pieces of wood apart by sliding the rod out of the hole. No nails. No glue. This makes taking the Raised Bed apart a snap. The only real work is to get rid of the soil inside the Raised Bed. So if I find the stain wearing off, I can easily restain it.
I prepared the site of the Raised Bed by laying several pages of newspaper on the ground. This prevents weeds from the ground growing into the Raised Bed. The newspaper will decompose in a couple of months.
The picture to the left shows the Raised Bed after I had put in the first level of wood. See the metal rods sticking out at each corner. To add in the next level, all I need to do is to slide the wood into the rods. If later on, I need to add more levels, all I need to do is to replace the rods with ones that are a longer length.
The picture to the right shows the fully assembled raised bed. It took me a whole day to apply the stain, but most of it was waiting for the stain to dry. I ended up using the entire 0.75 liter can of Bioshield Aqua Resin.
The picture to the left shows the Raised Bed the next morning after I put in the soil. You can see the drip irrigation lines that I setup to water the Raised bed.
All in all, I am quite pleased with how the Raised Bed looks and how easy it was to assemble. It certainly looks better than the plastic one that I got before. Of course, this Raised bed is several times more expensive!