So what do I do when I need some down time? Well, usually cook. But this time I decided the down time for yesterday (while my husband is still on vacation) would be setting up a garden. I've been wanting one for a few years now and have always just put it off. This year though, there is motivation. And I'm determined to make it awesome.
The first step was to decide on my strategy. After lots of consideration, I decided on a raised garden bed. One of my main deciding factors was the mole in my backyard. (Every year, my yard gets torn up. I've asked my husband to get rid of it, but we're not quite sure on the best way to do that. We're not too keen on traps because the thought of a little animal that I have to dispose of is just not my thing. Or his. We don't particularly like to kill things. If you have other suggestions, please share them!!!!) Anyways, I did the raised bed and put mesh underneath in hopes of keeping the little creature(s) away from my vegetables. I have no idea if their teeth can get through it, but it's worth a try!
Another deciding factor was soil. The soil in my yard is pretty horrible for growing anything but weeds. With the raised bed, I'm able to control the type of soil and have better control over the moisture content. A raised bed will aerate better than the ground which will help plants thrive by soaking up oxygen and nutrients in a more productive way.
After a few hours or work, we ended up with a garden bed that I am super happy with. It just turned out so great and I'm thrilled to get my first garden going! If you're thinking about having your own garden, I recommend going the raised bed route.
To build your own Raised Garden Bed:
Step 1: Determine the size.
If it's your first garden, don't go too big. My final size was 8'x4'. This allows me to keep things manageable but still have enough room to grow a small variety of plants.
Step 2: Purchase supplies.
For my 8'x4' box, we bought:
- three 8'x8" cedar planks (One of the 8'x8" planks was cut in half to make two 4'x8" side pieces.)
- three 2"x2"36" cedar posts
- enough rolls of 1/2" hardware mesh to cover the box
- galvanized screws
(Cedar is great for outdoor use because it's weather-resistant and it will help deter little buggers.)
Step 3: Get your fillers.
For the dirt, I used a combination of top soil, Miracle-Gro Garden Mix, and compost. The total amount for each was:
- Ten .75 cu ft bags of top soil
- Four 2.0 cu ft bags of Miracle Gro
- Two 1.0 cu ft bags of compost
Step 4: Build it.
Cut one 2"x2"x32" into four 8" long pieces. Cut one of the 8'x8" into two 4'x8" pieces.
Start by taking one of the 8'x8" pieces and one of the 4'x8". You'll want to match up the corners so they form a 90° angle. Connect them with one of the 2"x2"x8" on the inside corner for reinforcement with the galvanized screws. Do this with another 8'x8", 4'x8", and 2"x2"x8". Next, match everything up to create a rectangle and screw together remaining corners with remaining reinforcements.
When your rectangle box is built, keep it flat on the ground. You'll then unroll your hardware mesh, fit it over the box, and staple it to the box so it lays flat on the bottom.
Step 5: Prep the ground.
You'll want a level surface for your garden so get ready for some digging. The best way to get the area ready without killing yourself is by using a tiller. I started with my shovel then decided it would take me quite a while to dig up a 8'x4' area so I was off to the rental store. (It was only a few bucks to rent a tiller and it only took us about 15 minutes to dig up the space. Well worth the cost to save me time and work! After you rip up your area, grab a rake to get it all smooth. Next, get out your level to make sure it's all nice and even. You don't want a crooked garden!
Step 6: Lay everything out.
Once your ground is ready, lay down the garden bed, mesh side down. Once that's in place, spread a couple of layers of newspaper inside over the bottom. The paper will help kill any remaining grass and it will disintegrate after awhile so you won't have to worry about it lingering. Fill the box with your soil mixtures on top of the paper. You don't want to go all the way to the top, but make sure you go high enough to give your plant's roots room.
Step 7: Add more reinforcement.
This step is optional, but we did it for a little more security. You'll take the remaining 2"x2"x32" posts and cut them into six pieces total. Take a mallet and pound them into the ground right next to the sides of the bed. Two on each long end and one on each short end. You can screw them in if you'd like. (This picture is before the posts were screwed in.)
Step 8: Plant!