Have you ever wanted just one special place where you could start all your cuttings? Maybe just one small bed where the planting medium is always ready and the hose is right there to water them daily? Well, a Rooting Bed is very easy to construct with a minimum of tools. And you can place it right beside the water outlet or run a hose for its exclusive use. Consider how much money and time you will save if you have a rooting bed ready and waiting to use. And it is very simple to make one.
Assemble Materials and Tools
The Rooting Bed we are building is basically a long, narrow box with no bottom. For materials I used a 9 foot long scrap 2×4 and 16 long screws to hold the pieces together. The tools I needed were a measure, a hammer to remove old nails, a saw to cut the 2×4 into correct size pieces and a drill to fasten the pieces together.
Cutting and Fastening the Rooting Bed Frame
First, remove all the old nails from your wood, if you are using scrap lumber. It’s not worth ruining the saw blade just to save this little bit of time. Next, measure the pieces you are going to cut. Because my used 2×4 happened to be nine feet long, I measured out two lengths of 4 feet each, and two 6 inch lengths. This gives me a long, narrow rooting bed-perfect for planting your cuttings one plant wide. This minimizes any tangled roots and even allows for temporary dividers to be added.
The measurements did not need to be extremely accurate because the boards will not be getting much stress. They will be laying on the ground, acting as a frame to hold the rooting medium together.
Once I had them measured, I cut them, using all safety precautions. As much as I want a rooting bed, I want my fingers and eyes even more! I did try to make the cuts square, to give the four joints a good fit.
Once I had the pieces cut, I pre-drilled holes for the screws. I knew the lumber for this cutting bed frame was not in the best of shape and would likely split if I tried to screw the pieces together without the pilot holes. My patience and care paid off. Once the holes were drilled, I drove the screws in with no splits at all. One long side piece was already split before I cut the wood, but my pre-drilling made it possible to join that split part as well as the rest of the board.
I was careful to not use pressure treated lumber because of the possible soil contamination issues. And because I do not expect this frame to last more than one season I did not put any kind of preserving finish on the wood. I wanted to “see how it goes” before I get very serious with materials and time. Will it rot? Eventually, yes. But the materials were free, and it will not attract enough termites to bother me, so there’s nothing much to lose.
Place the Frame in the Garden
Before you can use this cutting bed frame, you must prepare the ground it will be sitting on. The idea is to place this bottomless rooting box on level, cultivated ground, near a water source, and then fill it with the best rooting material you can get.
For me, I prepared a piece of ground within 2 feet of the backyard water spigot. This is a perfect spot for my place: in the shade, near the water and a location where I will see it several times a day as I work in the garden. The rooting medium I chose was compost of my own making, mostly tree leaves and grass clippings, with enough blood meal to make it heat up very hot in a big hurry (I can have compost ready to use in 14 days this way). So, out comes my cultivating “claw” and when the soil in the four foot long area is loosened and level, down goes the rooting bed frame. Then, in comes my compost, filling the frame just past the top (because it will settle with watering).
Plant your Cuttings
All that’s left now is poke a hole in the rich, warm, moist compost with a stick, ease the cutting down into the hole (with sufficient rooting powder applied to the cutting) and water lightly. Now, wait a week or so and see what we have for new plants! When these are rooted enough to transplant, a new batch in goes. But with four feet of space, I might not even have to wait!