U is for… #atozchallenge

U

I’ve written about being outside and it’s therapeutic tendencies. So it should come with no surprise that today’s post is also about being outside. Since yesterday was Earth Day, this will be fitting.

U is for Urban Garden.

Technically, we’re probably a rural town. But I’m stretching the word to fit not just the cities, but towns, too. It’s a bit big, but it fits. Yesterday after school, we built ourselves a raised garden bed. The seeds have already been started inside. They haven’t even germinated, yet. The last risk of frost doesn’t occur until May 12th!

Anyway… here’s our DIY Garden box in eighteen easy to follow steps.

Step one:
Decide that you’re going to build one and how you’ll do it. Then go to the hardware store and get the materials you’ll think you’ll need.
Wood. We used 6, 8′ long 2 x 6’s. Cedar is apparently best. But we would have had to trade in our first born. While temping, we opted to just get spruce, instead.
Screws. Wood screws to be exact. And if 3″ screws are good, 3.5″ screws are better. We got a pound of them. Don’t worry. You won’t need them.
Brackets. These are bendable pieces of metal we used to hold the boards together. They’re called strap ties.
Go home with your wood and hardware excited to start building.

Step two:
Check out where you can get enough bags of soil to fill your garden box. Here’s a quick math lesson on volume. If your garden box is 8′ x 4’x 1′ what is its volume? Length times width times height. 8 x 4 x 1 = 32 cubic feet. But we’re in Canada so the soil bags are measured in liters. How do you convert 32 cubic feet to liters? It’s actually pretty easy. First, go to Google. Then enter “convert 32 cubic feet to liters” into the search bar. It will tell you the answer is 906.139. See math is easy. If you want to know how to really do it, go here.

Step three:
Drop off the materials you just bought at home. Then return to place you found the cheapest bags of dirt. The world is dirt, but buy bags of it anyway. From step two we know we need 906 liters of dirt. Is it cheaper to buy $6 70L bags or 1$ 25L bags? Hint: buy the 25L bags. You’ll need 36 to fill the box entirely. Buy 30. Get home to discover it’s “Black Earth”.

Step four:
Call your neighbor to borrow his circular saw.

Step five:
Two of the boards you bought need to be cut in 1/2. If you’re not good at math, half of eight is four. Measure twice.

Step six:
Return the circular saw to keep your good standing.

Step seven:
Match boards of the same length along their long side and used the brackets to fasten them together. Allow your 4 year to assist because he’s “a fast driller”. Hence, it will take twice as long to complete, but at least he’s having fun.

garden box 6

Step eight:
Assemble the box. We placed the 8′ lengths with the 4′ lengths between them. With the 3 1/2 screws, screw the 8 footer to the 4 footer at a 90 degree angle.

Step nine:
After you discover that the 3 1/2 screws won’t screw into the wood return to the hardware store for the 2nd time to get 8 right angle brackets and 50 1″ screws.

Step ten:
Using the 1″ screws, screw the right angle brackets to the inside of the garden box frame. You’ll need a bracket for the top plank and one for the bottom.If two screws are good, six are better. When you’re done, it might look like this…
garden box 5

Step eleven:
Repeat this with the other 3 corners.

garden box 4

Step twelve: 
Get your leftover weed control fabric that you used for your pallet garden two years ago from the basement. While you’re down there, get your staple gun and staples, too. Unroll the fabric to discover you only have half as much as you need.

Step thirteen:
Return to the hardware store for the 3rd time for more weed control fabric. Pick up a sheet of cheap plastic while you’re out, too.

Step fourteen:
With your new roll of fabric, roll the fabric over the frame of the box. Staple the shit out of it.

garden box 3

Step fifteen:
Flip over the frame so that the fabric is on the bottom. Pray that it’s sturdy. Praise your DW when it is.garden box 1

Step sixteen:
Empty the 30 bags of black earth into the garden box. Forget to take a picture of it full of black earth.

Step seventeen:
Just like you did with the weed control fabric, use the sheet of plastic to cover the top. This will deter any animals (like neighborhood cats) from using it as a king size litter box. It will also attract kids to poke holes in it.

Step eighteen:
Photograph the finished product for facebook and the blog.
20160423_095918

 

Farmin’ and Gardenin’

My dad’s parents were farmers. They raised chickens and tended crops. There may have been livestock, but I’m not exactly sure. If there was, I don’t remember it or it was before my time. Hence, my dad grew up on a farm. He knows how to tend to plants. It shows, too. The plants he grows around his house thrive under his care. He is the “Plant Manager”.

I didn’t grow up on a farm, but with grandparents (and friends) with a farm, I spent plenty of time on them. So I don’t think it’s such a coincidence that I came to work on a farm when I was 13. I started out as a farm hand, essentially. Move stuff here. Move stuff over there. Plant these seeds. Water those plants. Cut this asparagus. Pick those raspberries. Pick these blackberries. Lay irrigation pipe. Pick melons until the trailer is full. And the tomatoes! And Peppers! Rows and rows and rows, each 250 (thousand?) yards long. I loved it. Later, after graduating high school, still working on the same farm, I started scouting crops. Corn mostly. Sometimes peas. Sometimes Potatoes. Sometimes in Maryland. Sometimes in Delaware. Sometimes in New Jersey. I loved it.

Why the history? Because I still tend a farm. Well, not a farm, per say. A vegetable garden is just a tiny farm, right? Since getting our own place here in Canada, I’ve planted a tiny farm every summer. Broccoli, lettuce and green peppers. This year I have onions and a jalapeno plant. Last year I tried carrots, but they turned out like a homeless alien’s toes.

The difference between my vegetables this year from years past is where they were born. I used to start them from seed myself. This year I bought them from a local grower (also a good friend) who has her own impressive greenhouse. All I had to do was make the 15 minute drive to pick them up. So here’s my Public Service Announcement for today.

Buy local.

plants

Instant garden

It may not be the prettiest, but it will be tasty! Those are re-purposed pallets filled with soil, peat, and compost. Onions on the far left. Lettuce in the middle left. Peppers in the middle right. Broccoli on the far right. An added bonus is that it’s something the whole family can do. Both Crash and Bang helped dig the holes, pulled the plants from the pots, and plant them. They love getting their hands dirty as much as I do.

Do you enjoy gardening? Flowers, vegetables, or both? What is your favorite plant to grow?