I thought about calling this post “How to Build Raised Beds,” but who am I kidding? I am definitely not an an expert at any of this gardening stuff. I am just googling for tips and then adapting to my reality and hoping I get it halfway right. There are two huge primary challenges with building our Homestead Garden:
1. Our garden is a 900 square foot fenced in area that has been overgrown with weeds and poison ivy for 10 years.
2. As mentioned, I don’t have a green thumb.
The past couple weekends, we’ve been tackling point one. Can’t get to point two until we have somewhere to try not to kill the veggies, right?
I spent two weekends pulling the weeds by hand and fighting with vines that would totally support Tarzan swinging through the trees. My battle with the vines growing throughout the garden was my first battle with Goliath in the garden project. See the one sticking out over the asparagus that I gave up on?
I finally called the local equipment rental place and picked up a rototiller, which promptly leaked gas all over my car #awesome. TimTheFarmer was at work when I got home with it and when I want to do something, I want to do it now #instantgratification, so despite the fact that it took two guys to load it into my car, I was going to get it out on my own. I set up a ramp with two boards and managed to get it out of the car by myself. Can you tell I’m proud of myself? ‘Cuz I am ;). The trip across the yard to the garden was brutal – there is nothing ergonomic about a front-tine rototiller! I then got to work tilling everything up and holy crow! If I thought the weeds were my Goliath, I had another thing coming. It took every.single.muscle in my body to control that dang rototiller. Here’s me looking like it’s a walk in the park:
Here’s reality, triple chin and all:
TimTheFarmer came home (with a truck full of dirt dug up from a back corner of the farm!!) and we took turns with Goliath. It was much easier for him than me. What the heck?! Within a couple hours, though, we had the entire garden weeded and turned. Yippee! Remember my plan? I was trying not to bite off too much at once and was going to weed and plant one bed at a time, but forget that! We are all weeded and ready for beds. Just looking at the cleared garden makes me feel like I can take a nice, deep breath.
As a side note, it seems I’m one of those people who doesn’t react to poison ivy, unlike TimTheFarmer (who will puff up like a blowfish). I didn’t recognize the dormant vines as poison ivy and have been pulling them for a few weeks without reaction. I’m allergic to everything else on the planet…small wins I guess?
In between weeding and rototiller wrastling, we got to work building the garden beds. We spent Mother’s Day with TimTheFarmer showing me how to use a circular saw and I cut up all the boards for the beds. I insisted on cutting the boards myself (can you say stubborn?), so Mother’s Day looked like this, which cracks me up.
I ultimately decided not to treat the boards which I’ll get into in a another post. I know, a whole post dedicated to treating raised beds…you can’t wait.
To build the beds, we used 2’x10’x8’s. Most of my beds are 4’x8′ so we cut one board in half for the ends and used 3 boards total per bed. I priced out the different board lengths and it seems lumber is not one of those things where bulk=better price. I guess that’s why they don’t sell it at Costco? I thought that the 16′ boards might be less expensive, but it all seems to be about the same price per foot. We used scrap 2’x4’s to brace the corners. And, I learned the value of good screws. Apparently the Home Depot guy sold me crappy screws and I had my third Goliath experience trying to screw together the beds. I’d been using TimTheFamer’s non-galvanized star lock screws and it was easy peesy; then I used my new phillips-head galvanized screws and the heads were getting stripped and they just wouldn’t go in the dang wood. It took me HOURS to put them together. TimTheFarmer came home with some more of the good screws and put the rest together in minutes, not hours. Ugh! But yes, Dad, I did use my pink screw gun.
We moved the beds into place and then laid down weed barrier between all the beds. I stapled the barrier inside the beds to hold it in place and minimize weeds poking through. I used garden staples to secure the perimeter of the weed barrier.
And the last battle with Goliath was moving the dirt from the apple crates to the beds. We took turns shoveling and shoveling and shoveling and…you get the idea. Our backs and shoulders are wrecked, but we’re done!! We filled the beds about halfway full. Since the dirt is freshly tilled under the beds, there should be plenty of room for the plants’ roots to take hold and this gives us room to add dirt for next year. So, we don’t have any more plants in the ground than last week, but the beds are all built and filled!! Are you tired? ‘Cuz I’m exhausted! Time to head to the nursery to look for veggies!