Raised Bed Made Out of Cast Iron Bed

Cabin Herb Garden

By Erin Huffstetler | 07/05/2016 | 4 Comments
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We just got back from a couple days at our cabin, and I’m excited to report that we finally have an herb garden! That had been on my to-do list for way too long. My friend, Jo, finally got the ball rolling. On our first night up there, she gave me a bunch of herbs for my birthday. Mostly stuff that she had dug out of her own garden, with a couple store-bought plants sprinkled in. My kind of gift.

So, today we set out to get everything planted. I knew I wanted to do a raised bed, but we didn’t have any lumber on hand to build one. We considered driving to town for some boards, but that would have taken over an hour round trip, so we decided to get creative with what we had instead, and soon my husband returned with a cast iron bed and a plan.

We bought this particular bed about a billion years ago. It was missing its rails when we found it, but it was cheap, and we figured we could find some rails for it. We were wrong. Cast iron bed rails are not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. You’ve got to find rails with ends that perfectly match the shape of the slots on your particular headboard and foot board. After several near-misses, we gave up. Eventually, we decided to haul it up to the cabin, thinking we’d use it to make some garden gates one day.

But apparently, it was destined to become a raised bed for our herb garden. Who knew?

Cast Iron Bed Raised Bed - Side View

We happened to have a set of those near-miss bed rails in our storage shed; and while they don’t fit the headboard and foot board well enough to hold a mattress, they fit well enough for their new purpose.

Cast Iron Raised Bed Close Up

Now, normally you install bed rails so that the angle iron creates a little pocket for the mattress to sit inside. We decided to install our rails upside down. This gave us a clean top edge for our raised bed, and created a lip for our side boards to sit behind. Very handy.

Side of Raised Bed

Since we didn’t have any lumber on hand, we used boards from oak pallets for the sides. We had some in our firewood pile. We just had to cut them to size. The weight of the dirt holds the boards firmly in place, without any nails or screws.

Top of Raised Bed

Here’s that nice clean edge that I was talking about.


We planted rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon, and lemon balm. On our next trip up I plan to add chives, sage and mint. The mint will get its own pot, since it’s invasive.

Garden Bed Filler

Oh, and we even managed to save money on dirt, too. There’s this big mound of rotting rough-sawn oak boards on the property. We think it may have been where the previous owners’ milled their own lumber. Not sure, but it’s basically a giant pile of mulch at this point. I scooped some of that into the bottom on the raised bed as filler. Then, I added soil on top. That cut our soil cost in half, and it should help the bed to retain moisture between rain showers.

Finished Herb Garden

I’m so excited with the way this turned out. Now, I’m plotting what I want to plant next.

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  1. On your next visit move the lemon balm to its own spot as well. I will spread as quickly as mint. Three years after adding it(and removing it) to my herb garden I am still finding new plants.


    • Yep, I plan to. You can’t tell in the picture, but it’s actually planted in the pot it came in until I’m able to get back up there with a bigger pot for it. Since lemon balm is in the mint family, it’s a big spreader, as you’ve found. I’ll probably plant my chives in a container, too. I learned that lesson the hard way 🙂

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