While looking out the window this winter and seeing my main gardening area, I knew something had to change. These boxes just were not cutting it out on production. What should I do? After talking with another gardener about this I decided that I needed to remove the landscaping fabric under the soil and make the beds for tomatoes deeper. While looking at these from a different angle this past weekend I also knew that each box needed more soil. This happens after a while in raised bed areas, as the soil components break down. I just hadn’t realized exactly how much this had happened. This also is a project that I should have done on a cold winter day. As I was redoing a front flower bed, traveling for a few weeks, de-wallpapering and painting a bathroom and working on
21 17 other projects during those cold winter days, early Spring ended up being when I could do it. This is the before picture that was actually taken this winter. Here are is a box of tools and some of the boards. I found it nice to have all the items I need in a box that was not only easy to pick up, but sturdy enough to use. It held: newspaper, a pencil, screws, several drill bits, a drill, extension cord, hand saw and a few smaller pieces of wood. I laid out the loose boards to get an idea of placement. It also then enabled me to direct any kids looking for work (“I want to dig”) to the area needing grass removed. The removed grass was placed where there is a bare spot in the yard. This is the view along the row of boxes. I couldn’t figure out if I wanted the backs to be in a line, the fronts, or neither. At first I wanted all the backs to be in a row, and that is how I placed the new box. It was only after filling it with dirt did I realize I had proceeded to line all the old boxes up by the front edge after I rearranged them. Oh, well. It really isn’t that much of an issue as only two out of the four are the same size. The new box was going to be 1 foot/ 12 inches tall. This meant making two 6 inch deep boxes and staking them. Here is the first box in progress of being constructed. The new box is 3 feet wide by 8 feet long by 12 inches deep.
If you can see the corners you will notice how the edges are rotated. In other words, the end board is not sandwiched between the two side boards. Instead, the first side board is screwed into the of the side board. The side board is then screwed into the end of the other long board. This gives more stability.
I also found that my side boards were too thin. I thought this when I bought them but wasn’t sure. Once I got home I realized they were. If this become a problem in the future I will add another to make it thicker. Actually all the lumber is thinner than my old boxes. I used 1 inch cedar lumber this time. Today I found out that I could have gotten the 2 inch stuff if I had just asked. They had it in back as there wasn’t room out in the normal store area to show everything.
After trying to get the boards to stack and stay straight I realized I need some way to hold them in place.
On each of the long sides I put two extra pieces like you see below. On each side I screwed one piece into the top board and the other piece into the bottom board. When all four pieces were attached with one screw the whole structure was more stable. (You can see their locations in the photo below.) I was then able to go back and add the second screw into each piece.
This project looks so much easier in picture format than it did the day I was actually doing it. Boards didn’t want to stay put for me to create boxes, there was nothing to brace against so I was having a hard time screwing things together. Then they came apart, twice, while trying to move them. Once it was all together, though, it was very solid.
The place I wanted the new box was at the end of the line of current boxes. I decided this was good in that it was near the other boxes, near the compost pile, and would not require me to take out large patches of good looking grass.
Here I have started to fill the new box and remove one of the old ones. I lined the bottom of the new box with 3-4 layers of newspaper, covered it in dirt from the old/current boxes, the leveled the dirt in the box. Before moving the old/existing boxes I had to pull up the rebars I used to secure the tomato trellises. I then shoveled out as much dirt as possible. When I was down to the very last, I picked up the box and moved it out of the way.
I lifted up the edges of landscaping fabric, dumping the remaining soil into the center of the fabric. This made it easier to scoop it out. When it got very low I was able to pick up the fabric and dumb it in the new bed.
The first bed was where I had put several of my worms. I was amazed at the number I came across. There were even more in this small bed than in the other two larger ones put together. Not only more, but larger worms. The photo below shows the biggest one I found. The length of my hand and half the size of my small finger.
Monday I mixed together peat moss and mulch I had at the house. I had moved the two larger old raised bed frames together and lined the bottoms with newspaper. I spread the peat moss and mulch mix in these.
Then I took some yard waste I had to the City’s disposal site. While there I picked up some compost and bagged leaves. The compost is what the City makes from yard waste citizens leave. The bagged leaves were ones people brought and just left. One bag of leaves was added to the new bed and mixed in with the soil. They were then watered well and left overnight. This bed is full and ready for planting.
The compost was added to more peat moss and was added to the larger of the two older raised bed frames. These beds need more soil in them before being ready for plants.
The reason for showing you all this is because this is my main goal this week – to get the garden ready for planting. This meant:
- Building a new raised garden box.
- Moving soil from the existing beds into the new raised bed.
- Rearranging the existing raised garden boxes.
- Putting new soil into the existing boxes.
- Planting onion sets and flowers in the new raised garden box.
- Planting strawberry plants in the two larger existing boxes.
- Planting lettuce in the small existing box.
- Removing dried, decayed pumpkin from front stoop planters.
- Plant left over tulip bulbs and flower seeds in front stoop planters.
- Plant blueberry bush in pot.
- Add flower seeds to front garden bed.
- Start sunflower seeds (to replace kids’ sunflower that died while we were away over Easter) for planting outside in a few weeks.
I have been spending all my spare time (the past two days) working on this. I thought about stopping to type all this up, but decided to actually do something first and show you when I got a chance. Besides, now you get to see the progress in action. The first thing this morning I will be doing #5 – planting onion sets and flower seeds in the new raised bed. Later in the morning I will go back to the yard waste disposal site and get some more dirt for the boxes. I would love to get #6 & #7 completed by Tuesday night then proceed on to finish the list on Wednesday.
Barring any late Spring snow storms, our last frost date came two weeks early this year. I’m hoping not to miss the extra time we have. By keeping the plants started to those that can withstand a bit of cool weather, I’m hoping to have a better crop than last year where it was too warm when they were started. I will also be able to cover these up if it dips down too low.
The lack of household goals in on purpose. My goals there are:
- load of laundry each day
- do the dishes
- cook/make meals
- pick up each morning and afternoon so things are laying around everywhere
I even told my husband that I know I’m letting the house work slip right now. However, once the garden beds are finished and the first things to be planted are in the ground I will shift my focus to the house. I haven’t forgotten it, but it is not as time sensitive as the garden.
How about you? Any gardening plans for this week? How are your seeds coming along?