Back before my dad spent two weeks in-and-out of the hospital, having an ultrasound, an MRI and four endoscopic procedures, I wrote about how I built a raised bed garden frame all by my very lonesome. Well, Owen offered moral support, but mostly it was all by my very lonesome.
Now comes the part about how I made the frame into an actual garden.
First, I went to Lowe’s and used our military discount to buy starter plants. Since I went in early June, the pickin’s were kinda slim, so I mostly ended up with peppers. Red, yellow, orange and hot banana peppers, to be exact. For variety I added two zucchini plants, even though I have heard stories about how they consume everything in their path. I suspect they’ll make short work of my tiny 4×4 plot, but nothing ventured, nothing gained!
I also had several container tomato plants and some herbs.
Owen helped me pick out the location by scouting the sunniest spot in the yard.
After I moved Owen, I placed the frame where I wanted it, marked it off, moved it back out of the way, and started digging. I wanted to be sure the soil beneath was loosened up so the roots could grow down as well as out.
The ground was hard-packed, full of rocks and tree roots, and it was slow work. After about twenty minutes of jumping up and down on the shovel and shaking out grass clumps, all I had was this:
Never terribly patient, I decided to enlist the help of a professional digger.
Not even kidding. I called the dog over, pointed him in the right direction and instructed, “Dig, Owie!” He tentatively scooped with one paw and looked up at me questioningly. When I said, “Yes! Good boy!” he went into high-speed Rototiller mode. Dirt flying, Paws of Lightning dug down about eight inches right quick.
I stopped him only to move him to the next corner.
Go Paws of Lightning, go!
I freaking love that dog.
Once we were dug down eight inches all around the square (can you be “around” in a square?), I filled it back in with loose soil. I used a completely random mixture of “native soil”, bagged garden soil from Lowe’s and composted manure that my neighbors had delivered by the truckful and were kind enough to share with me. I think my ratio was, ten shovelfuls of native soil-to-a dumped-in amount of garden soil-to-a few shovelfuls of manure.
I mixed it up as well as I could with my cool little rake from Lowes and brought it up to ground level.
Time to place the frame on! I discovered at this point that I needed to widen the square just a smidge on one side so that the frame would sit evenly. Then, because I am incredibly anal retentive, I made sure the frame was level on all four sides and packed it in securely from the outside.
Well, close enough for jazz.
I used the same(ish) soil ratio to fill the frame until it was about an inch from the top.
Next, I placed my plants approximately where I wanted them, ignoring the instructions to “place 18″ apart”. If I “placed 18″ apart” I would have had about four plants in my 4×4 garden. Instead I spaced about 10″ apart.
Gardening is hard work. Snack break!
Sorry about the oogy bite marks but I was too hungry to wait to take the picture.
There’s not much left to tell. I peeled the bottom of my peat pots and sunk the plants according to instruction.
Cute wheelbarrow, eh? I love my little barrow.
I planted the tomato plants in the container (and one in the left corner of the bed), put some some cat grass seed in the colored pots and watered everything.
The cool part is that the garden is already feeding our family. Owen likes to eat the composted manure chunks out of it. Which is pretty gross but, to his credit, he hasn’t once tried to dig in the garden since he helped create it.
Gratuitous artsy-looking plant photo:
Oh yeah, and I can’t forget the herbs! I planted those in a window planter right outside our door. Easy access when cooking!
Parsley, basil, dill, thyme and rosemary. Plus sage, chives and oregano that I didn’t have room for and stuffed down along the sides of the raised bed garden. Along with the marjoram I got from my farm share.
So it’s a little crowded in there. But, it’s been a month and everything seems to be doing well so far.
Especially the zucchini.