Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Boxes are (Finally) Ready!

The other day I was getting my hair cut and my hairdresser and I were having a conversation about vegetable gardening. I was telling her all about my plans, what I was going to grow, how I was going to do it. I remember thinking to myself at one point in the conversation, hey- I really sound like I know what I’m talking about. After all, I have been reading and researching for at least 4 months now. Of course, I had to point out to her that I haven’t actually grown anything yet.

Despite my months of planning and all the information that has been rattling around in my brain, I have been off to a bit of slow start with the outdoor preparation for the garden. I had planned on having the beds ready in early April, however work, kids activities and weather have all been slowing me down. But, I am pleased to say the boxes are now constructed and are ready for planting.

The main principle of the square foot gardening method is that you are growing vegetables in raised beds, marked out with a grid. No more long rows of dirt that take up a lot of space- each vegetable is grown intensively in one square foot of space within the box . I won’t get into all the specifics here, but the method was created by Mel Bartholomew in his Square Foot Gardening book. You can check out his website:

In planning the type of raised bed I would construct, I decided to go with cedar. I figured the initial investment would be worth it as they will last longer. Also, I won’t have to worry about any nasty chemicals leaching into the soil from pressure treated wood. They also smell really nice- especially after the rain! Although 6 inches of soil is deep enough to grow successfully with this method (as the book says), I have opted to go higher for various reasons. Since I have to locate the beds smack dab in the middle of my backyard for maximum sun exposure, I figure a higher frame will help keep kids and dogs from walking through them. A simple google search will bring up many different methods to construct a raised bed. My favorite was on Patty Moreno, The Garden Girl’s website. She has a nice little instructional video, located here:
On a side note, is filled with lots of how-to videos on growing vegetables in raised beds, from an urban perspective. She has also teamed up with Mel Bartholomew for some instructional videos on square foot gardening.

You’ll notice we left the corner brackets rather high. We did this on purpose to possibly support some kind of barrier to keep the neighbourhoord cats out of the boxes (look for more on cats in a future posting). We kind of forgot when building the boxes, that our backyard has a major slope to it. So we had to compensate by digging into the hill and using bricks/rocks that we had lying around the yard to raise it up to level. Hopefully it will hold! It may not look pretty and the surrounding grass took a beating, but hopefully once the garden is underway later this summer, we’ll be able to beautify it. The other challenge was the wood itself, which we purchased from Home Depot in early April. We picked out the straightest boards we could find, but some were a little warped, making it a harder to get the boxes completely square. I discovered that the wood that I picked out was from last year’s supply ie leftovers. The shipment of cedar for this year didn’t come in until a week after I had already brought the wood home precut and ready to go. Live and Learn.

1 comment:

M MacDonald said...

Sounds like you have done the leg work. I'll be interested to see the results as the summer progresses. What is insode the boxes at the moment. Looks like it is covered up. What lies beneath the cover?