Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Building Our Raised Garden Beds

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we spent most of New Year's Eve and Day hanging out and working on our raised garden beds. We wanted to build them as early in the year as possible, so the soil would have time to get good and healthy before we start planting. We have a long and narrow backyard, only half of which is fenced in. We decided to build the beds in the rear half of the backyard, outside of the fence. The dogs play inside the fence, and we didn't want to 1. risk them digging in the garden, and 2. take up too much of their play space.

First, we raked all the leaves in both ends of the yard and made three rows, approximately the length and width of our planned beds - so we could visualize them. We decided to make beds that were fifteen feet long and four feet wide (60 sqaure feet of surface area per bed) - this seemed the best use of the space and will allow us to easily reach into the beds from both sides for planting, weeding, and harvesting.

Our lumber were 8ft 2x8's (pine) from a big box hardware store.

Calvin, begging me to open the fence. I gave in.

We ended up spending about $150 on wood and $25 on screws (2 1/2"). Kind of expensive, considering we'll only be gardening here for three years, but hopefully the garden will end up paying for itself. Plus, I like the idea of leaving behind ready-to-go raised beds for the next people who rent this place. Pay it forward!

Showing the compound miter saw who's in charge.

Drill baby drill!

We spent a lot of time cutting the lumber for the beds and the bracing pieces. Then there was much pre-drilling and screwing as we put the pieces together. I learned how to use a miter saw, a circular saw, and the drill. Later, I taught Nathan how to use the rice cooker. Equality for all!

Sides joined and laid out!

Detail of how we got 15ft lengths out of 8ft boards. Nathan calls this method "scabbing." Ew.

Pre-drilling prevents cracked ends. Better safe than sorry.

On Sunday, we spent two hours raking leaves and about five hours cutting wood and drilling pieces together. On Monday, it only took us another two or three hours to assemble the finished boxes. Not bad for a weekend project!

Boxes. More complicated than I thought.

These vertical 2x4's allow us to sink many more screws into the corners.


It will be a few months before we can get serious about planting. In the meantime, we're figuring out what we want to plant and where in the boxes each delicious vegetable will go, while admiring our handiwork every time we walk up the driveway.

Next week: how to make soil. Also more complicated than I thought (hint: it involves climbing a small mountain of horse manure and saw dust. Consider yourself warned.)