Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Raised Beds on a Bargain

It's planting season!

I've already started my seedlings inside (post coming soon), but outdoors it's been one big project: build the garden.

Our plan is something like this:

4 4'x8' beds
3 foot pathways
door optional depending on budget (we might just leave a corner open, we'll see how things go)

We knew the boards would be our biggest expense, so we chose to use Doug Fir instead of the popular, pretty, and VERY expensive cedar alternative. From what we can tell, Doug Fir does last a very long time, like cedar, but doesn't last quite as long and doesn't look quite so nice.

We thought that was a fine trade-off, for the price.

We got extra lucky when we managed to snag a clearance! 18 Doug Fir boards, 12 inches wide and 12 feet long for only $100 flat.

Yes, some of the boards were twisted and cracked, but we could pick out what we wanted and still save over $50 on our purchase! Off we went with our pile o' wood!

We knew we needed 8 pieces, 8 feet long each, and another 8 pieces that were 4 feet long each. So we just laid the boards out and picked out the sections that weren't cracked or warped. In the end, we had no problem finding all the pieces we needed within the discount pile of boards. And the lumber actually has quite a beautiful grain to it, which was a nice bonus.

Here's how our first bed turned out:

We used scraps from the cracked pieces to brace the corners. We only got to building one before...

... it snowed.
So the project went on hold for a week or so until the snow melted.

Then we got back to work!

We finished the four of them and laid them out where we thought the garden would go.

AND we changed our minds and hauled the beds all the way back to where we had built them on the South side of the house.

This spot is way better! Tons of sunshine!

Next we moved all the beds BACK out of the way (we got really used to carrying these guys around) and Tim tilled the whole area so we could level it.

Luckily, all we had to do was bring one corner down and that about did it.

Then we played the Make It Straight game and spent a couple hours raking, moving, measuring, nudging, raking again, moving again, leveling, shoving rocks under corners here and there, raking some more...

Finally, we got everything just about lined up so the beds were parallel to the house, level, and had three foot pathways in between. Then came the dirt...


We got lucky on two counts here: one, we have friends with good free dirt, and two, we have a very big truck at our disposal. Convenient! We backed the truck up and started shoveling.

This is what the top soil looked like when we were done.

Currently, we're picking away at mixing in some manure from a family member's farm and building the fence around the entire deal so the deer don't have an open buffet.

More posts on our progress to come!

Anyone else out there starting from scratch this year?

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