In my last post, I listed out my Spring “To Do” list for my yard and getting my garden ready for the spring/summer growing season is next on my list. After careful consideration, I decided you would not be interested in seeing pictures of me weeding and hoeing and cursing.
However!!!! I thought you might be interested in how I built my raised garden. With the sharp increases in gas prices and subsequently, the increase cost of produce and other goods, I thought I might be able to shave some dollars off my grocery bill with growing a few essentials of my very own.
The Benefits of a Raised Vegetable Garden
The benefits of having a raised vegetable garden includes being able to overcome bad soil much easier than tilling and amending your current soil. Instead, you just fill your beds with quality soil products. Other benefits include being easier on your back, easier to keep weeds and grasses out of your beds, and an earlier growing season as the soil in raised beds will warm faster and sooner.
After some internet research, I found these plans that help me figure out the basics of garden box building. Really, sometimes things aren’t as easy as they look in pictures (click pictures to access links):
And this one:
I decided that I wanted to make two narrow boxes. I made the boxes 4 feet across (allowing for a 2 foot reach from each side of the box) and 10 feet long to allow for ample room for lots of tomato plants and some watermelon vines, among other things. I recommend first making your list of veggies you want to grow and determining how much space is needed to accommodate your garden.
Be sure to use rot-resistant wood such as cedar or redwood. I used 1×8’s and deck screws to create each box’s 4 x 10 dimensions and then set them where I wanted. I had to consider other factors in placement like the amount of daily sunlight, can a mower fit between them, where is the swampy part of my yard after a heavy rain. (On a note: Had I considered at the time I might want to create a greenhouse for winter growing, I would have put the boxes side by side rather than end to end so I can do this:)
I had a great little helper during this build, my 9-year-old (at the time) son. Yes, that long-haired kid is my son. Here he is measuring the 2×4 to make the spikes for anchoring the boxes to the ground.
Two 2×4 spikes is hammered into the inside of each end of the box . I recommend you invest in or borrow a sledge hammer, because nothing else will do the job as fast.
Here my ex is lending some muscle on the heavy swinging and hammering.
Next, three 2×4 spikes are placed at intervals on each side of the box and hammered into the ground. When they are level with the top of the box, and the box is level, the 2×4’s are then screwed into the box frame with deck screws.
That’s all it took to have two raised garden beds ready for soil and plants!!
Except that I didn’t stop there. When the Texas sun is at it’s hottest, I have no desire to stand out there after work, in my high heels, and water my garden. So, I put in a little timer-driven drip irrigation system into my beds.
I dug a trench (using a pickaxe) from the house to the first box. I utilized right angle elbows and the 1/2″ (black) tubing to run an L shape line from the brick wall of the house to the first box. I laid the tubing into the trench and ran the tubing underneath the box and recovered the trench.
With two more right-angle elbows, I extended the tubing above the inside of the box. Then I created the same right-angle extension at the other end of the box and ran tubing, underground, to the next box.
After adding the soil, I connected the elbows at each end with 1/2″ tubing and added small sprayers directly into the 1/2″ tubing at intervals. This whole ensemble is connected to a hose which is connected to a Timer at the spigot. The other end is folded over and connected with an “8” ring. I set the timer to water a few minutes every few days and increased as the weather got warmer and dryer in the heat of the summer. Remember, the raised bed will dry out faster than the rest of the yard.
If you are an apartment dweller or have limited space, you can also enjoy fresh grown vegetables with this other alternative: A Planter Box. Click on pics to open links
or for the truly space-challenged:
Now…. back to the weeding, the hoeing, the cussing.