Sunday, May 29, 2011

Raising a Garden

One of my many projects this weekend (besides pouring cement countertops, pouring a new front doorstep, planting rose bushes and making a duvet cover) was installing a new raised garden box.  I solicited the help of my muscle man, Mark to do most of the labor since the majority of it was digging and lifting.  I'm claiming the title of designer, and have to admit that I did a great job of taking pictures and barking orders.

We used green treat 4x4's for the posts and cedar 2x6's for the main box construction.  This box was made to match our existing 4x8' box, but we wanted this to be 4x4' instead.  Eventually, we'll have 3 boxes total, but we're taking it in steps.

We wanted the front of the box to be roughly 11 inches tall to match the height of our existing box.  Because the area in which we installed the box is on a slight slope, 3 sides of the box (the back and sides) had to be 6 inches deeper.  We cut eleven 4-ft long cedar planks and the posts were cut to approximately 32" long with a slight angle.  The angle, we found later, to be absolutely useless, since the soil was so rocky and hard that pounding it in with the point was impossible.

We used decking screws to put it together since they don't rust, making sure to pre-drill holes.  It doesn't really take two people, but it sure does make it go faster.  Then came the hard part: Installation.

We lined it up with the other box using a 2x4, a tape measure, and our eyes.

Then we (Mark) marked around the box with a spade. 

After removing the grass from the area, Mark dug holes for the posts.  I dug down the sides while he was digging the holes, since some of the sides would be buried slightly since the area sloped.

After making sure the holes were deep enough, and the sides were deep enough, we set the box in place.  Tapped down the corners and edges until it was level on all sides.  It was significantly easier to do this smaller box than the larger one we had done last year.  We also had to make sure it was set at the same level as the existing box.

Here you can see how the terrain slopes and how we had to make one side of the boxes deeper than the other.

We lined the box in heavy plastic using a staple gun, leaving the top inch or two unlined.  We did this for two reasons:  1) The boxes are for fruit and veggies, so we wanted to make sure any chemicals from the treated wood did not seep into the soil (we used green wood to make sure it did not rot as we were burying it).  2) Even though cedar is a great outdoor wood, it will eventually rot like all other wood. The plastic protects the cedar from rotting faster than it needs too, since there is more moisture in the dirt than would be on a fence or deck.

 Then we all filled it in with top soil and compost.  By the way, Lynde Greenhouse & Nursery in Maple Grove is a great place to get compost and topsoil if you need it and live in the Twin Cities.  A cubic yard of compost is only $25 (and you can get a half yd or a full yd).  Oh, and if you were wondering, we ladies did all wear cute sundresses while working.

All ready for fertilizer and plants!  Next year this will be my very own strawberry patch.  Off to the farmers' market! 

Thanks for your muscles, Mark!  Whew! I'm exhausted from yelling and snapping pictures.  I need some ice cream and cookies now.  I've earned them.

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