Monday, March 05, 2007

Beginnings of a garden.

I have been extremely anxious to get our vegetable gardens ready so that I could start things growing in them! My hope with the gardens this year is to get a solid start at being self-sufficient in our food growing. I know it won't all happen in one year... but I have grand plans anyway!

This weekend we got started on building the raised beds that I intend to grow most of our veggies in. I am planning on 10 boxes 4 x8 in size. I wanted them to last, and not rot out in 2-4 years, so I did a lot of research on-line on pre-fab garden boxes made out of recycled products. They were all very expensive, about $150-200 per box (and needed to be shipped), and once assembled where not true 4 x 8 in size but slightly smaller. I talked with Neil about it and he suggested we go to Lowe's and look at their recycled decking boards. I wanted boxes deeper then 6 inches (even though in SFG 6 inches is supposed to be deep enough). We found the perfect stuff! Among the recycled deck boards they had deck top rails too. These boards were 12 foot long, 11 inches wide and only about 3/4 of an inch thick. So two boards would make one box 4 x 8 in size. Including the price of hardware and recycled "wooden" stakes each box came to about $50. A HUGE savings over the pre-fab boxes. They only had 12 boards in stock, enough to make six of my boxes, and we bought them out.

The future garden with flags.Once back at home we measured out where I wanted the boxes to live. I had choosen the area of lawn near the pastures to have my garden as I will need to walk past this area numerous times a day going from the house to the barn to care for the animals. So, hopefully, I will not suffer from "out of sight - out of mind" when it comes to caring for the garden. It is also a slightly sloping south facing area that gets lots of direct sunlight most of the year.

Assembling the boxes was pretty easy. Neil cut each of the 12 foot boards into 4 foot and 8 foot sections. He then drove in the corner stakes and attached two 4 foot boards and two 8 foot boards to the stakes. Finally, he placed an additional ground stake half way along the 8 foot sides (inside the boxes) for support so the wight of the soil did not bulge out the sides.

Next the kids and I covered the ground inside one of the boxes with several layers of wet newspapers and then 2-3 layers of cardboard to help prevent the grass from growing up through the future garden. The newspaper and cardboard will decompose over time and will add organic matter back to the soil.

Then, using the Square Foot Garden (SFG) formula for the garden soil mix of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 compost we filled the box up. We only got one box filled with soil this weekend. Finally, since we are not planning on being back at the farm for two weeks I covered the box with frost cover to prevent the loose soil from blowing away in the winds. Next trip up... planting!

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