Thursday, May 23, 2013
Saturday, March 30, 2013
I'm glad to say that I have a garden. Now that's its built, I wouldn't change anything about its construction or location. It is a great undertaking of manual labor, money, time, and planning to do this, and so I am happy it got done so soon. (We have only lived here since July.) So far, I have 8 tomatoes, 1 eggplant, and a few summer squash seeds planted.
The mental work of decided how and where to build a garden from scratch is very difficult and stressful for me (And this is before the manual labor even begins.) Originally, I was going to have the vegetable garden in the flowerbed on the south side of the house. I made that decision from caving to laziness. The beds already there, even if it's not perfect. It'll work, I thought. But I decided against that once I found that the foundation had been treated for termites a few years ago. So, I decided to use the yard on the south side of the house. Raised beds seemed like the only way to go. The next issue was to decide on wood, masonry, or what else?
I decided to build a wood-frame raised bed, initially out of cedar. I even went to Home Depot expecting to buy cedar. The reason for the cedar was because I wanted to build a more sturdy version of one of the cheaper kits I saw online. (Cedar kits are ubiquitous in garden magazines and catalogs. I almost bought two cedar kits for $80 each for this project. That kit was the cheapest I could find, and I eventually decided it was too cheap and I lost confidence in it.) At Home Depot, an employee in the lumber department suggested that cedar isn't automatically a good wood for the project. The hardiness of the wood depends on from what part of the tree it is cut, and he had no idea about the cedar that happened to be in the store. It's no surprise that everything labeled "cedar" is not the same. The use of cedar for raised beds was a fad, he suggested. My father was there and he found this easy to agree with. Additionally, cedar lumber is very expensive, but untreated pine is not.
It worked out that I can build 4 feet by 8 feet (8 inch tall) bed from yellow pine boards that are nominally 2 inches thick for $25 - $30. From talking to employee at Home Depot, and from reading on the Internet, I expect to get 3 to 5 years out of such a bed. After all, the only function of the frame is to hold the soil in place. The wood will gradually rot and be incorporated into the soil. Then, I'll rebuild it again, perhaps the same way all over again. So I bought enough southern yellow pine for two 4 feet by 8 feet beds with a frame that is about 8 inches tall. The wood was untreated, just cut from the tree and dried. I bought untreated wood, even though the pressure treated wood is officially allowed for food gardens (many gardeners don't trust this, however). The older type of pressure treated wood contained arsenic, and was used for many years before being recently banned. I certainly don't know what's safe, so I err on the side of caution.
The assembly of the bed was simple, and it looks square, level and even. I was very careful measuring and cutting, and I took my time. I was worried it wouldn't look good in the yard, but it looks fine. The hard part was removing the Bermuda grass and weeds, which I did with a pickaxe. It was also very hard to haul the 21 cubic feet of compost and amendments to fill the bed. I bought about $90 of that sort of stuff from Archie's. I bought an assortment of cotton burr compost, cow manure compost, greensand and "landscaper mix" which I think I was misinformed about (it seems like a fancy mulch, not a soil amendment). I have never gone to these lengths before. I had another garden at our old house, but I filled it with homemade compost, most of which was not totally finished composting. The new bed is filled to the top. It was hard work. I plan to repeat this procedure in a week or so for the second bed.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Saturday, December 29, 2012
In any case, he knew me as well as I knew myself, and seemed to be able to do it with numerology alone. But he made one more prediction: he said that in my late thirties (roughly, I can't remember) that the burden and psychological pain that my desire to learn causes me will abate. Time will tell.