Tag Archives: outdoors

Building a Raised Bed

Welcome to Mowenackie’s Do-It-Yourself Home Show!

Your host for the day will be Sarah, a wannabe carpenter with absolutely no experience. Joining her is her trusty sidekick, Owen. Owen likes digging, rolling in the grass and chasing the cats. He also likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.

Today’s project (which was actually completed two weeks ago) is: Making a Raised Bed Garden. Or at least the raised bed part.

Here are the materials you will need:

tools

  • (2) 2×6 boards, 8 ft. in length (Aside: did you know 2×6’s are actually something ridiculous like 1-7/8″ x 5-3/4″? Why? This makes me feel cheated. Good thing Lowe’s gives a 10% military discount.)
  • 1 piece of flatwood, 1’x3′
  • handsaw
  • level
  • measuring tape
  • carpenter’s retractable pencil
  • power screwdriver
  • 2 “ 2.5″ screws (about 20, plus a few to strip or lose in the grass)
  • Band-Aids

Got all that? Okay, first lay your 8′ boards over two saw horses the picnic table bench. Use the measuring tape to find the 4′ mark, then draw a straight line across it. Try to follow this line as you cut the board with the hand saw. Try not to cut the picnic table bench.

4' boards

You should now have four 4′ boards.

Next, use the deck platform your husband just built as a level surface. Line up the boards face to end. This is called a butt joint, but I wish it wasn’t. I feel awkward telling you to hold your butt joint tight while you secure it with screws.

butt joints

You should now have a nice little frame.

Back to the picnic table. Measure off one square foot of the flatwood and cut. I made up the term “flatwood”. I have no idea what this type of wood is called. It’s not plywood. It’s flatwood.

Trace a line from opposite corners of your square and cut to form two triangles. Sawing the wood will be more difficult at this angle, but suck it up.

Repeat this step. You’ll need four triangles – one for each corner.

cutting corners

Secure the triangles in the corners using the screws.

finished bed

Fine. If you want to be all fancy-dancy and not lazy, you can go inside, get a hammer and some nails. Or you could probably use thinner screws if you had them or wanted to take another trip to Lowe’s. Because the 2.5″ screws may or may not split your flatwood.

split corner

In fact, they probably will.

As long as you can get the screw all the way in before the wood breaks completely, it will hold it. I think.

split wood

Perfect!

Other advice? If you come across a knot in the wood, it will be very difficult to get the screw through. You will have to take it out and start over in another place.

Or another.

Or another.

stupid knot

A word of caution: if you try to force the screw into the knot by using all your weight to lean on the power screwdriver, the screw will be %@#! hot when you finally give up and take it out. Handle with caution. Or have burn cream handy.

Don’t worry if your seams aren’t perfect.

gaps

The thing only has to hold dirt, not water. So get off my back, alright?

Injuries are possible.

scrape

Cue the Band-Aids.

Ignore the pain and focus on the results.

raised bed

See? Owen is ecstatic.

On our next show, well show you how to turn the sandbox-looking thing you just built, into this lush abundance of fruitfulness:

raised bed garden

Thanks for watching!

Signs of Spring

At this time last year, I was impatiently waiting for my husband to come home from Afghanistan for his two weeks of leave. This year, I’m twiddling my thumbs and tapping my feet as I  wait expectantly for spring to come to Maine. Both waits have been excruciatingly slow and as maddening as driving behind a school bus when you’re late for work, but I won’t offer any opinion as to which was the worse of the two.

In both cases, the phrase “better late than never” applies. Thankfully, my husband got home then, and now we are starting to see some signs that spring is finally on its way.

The leaves are tentatively unfurling themselves, taking time to stretch like a cat after a nap.

spring leaves

The hostas are pushing up through the mulch beds.

hosta shoots

The flowering bushes are starting to bloom into vibrant firework-like displays of color.

flowering bushes

My chives are up!

Sarah's chives

Nothing says “spring” like a trip to Home Depot.

Home Depot trip

I can finally grow grass for the cats again.

cat grass

(Note: I have to do this outside. If I try to grow it inside, they eat it as soon as it starts to show green and there isn’t a place in this house that is safe from those two ninjas. Cat grass is very important to the health of my other houseplants. And my cats, when I find my peace lily ragged with teeth marks and leafy piles of puke on the floor.)

I think I can put the shovels away now.

snow shovels

(Probably.)

Owen can spend more time out in the yard.

Owen in the yard

And let’s face it. A little sun does us all good this time of year.

How about you? What signs of spring have you been seeing? What does spring mean to you?

Snowy Willard

**NEW! I’ve added a survey section to Mowenackie called, “Tell Me”. You’ll find the current poll question in the righthand sidebar. Won’t you “Tell Me” more about you? Thanks!**

My window is a black and white photograph of a snowy winter scene. Oh, there are colors, of course: the dull French gray of tree trunks spiking up out of endless white; a darker green peeking from under snowy pine branches; and the paler green of a moss whispering, Spring is not lost forever.

But Old Man Winter is letting us know he’s still in control today and the chaos of blowing snow sheens everything colorless.

It’s beautiful.

T likes summer with its vibrant blues and greens, but winter is so…sophisticated in its starkness. The stars are sharper, the moon is brighter and the trees are pointedly dignified.

(I’m trying to put more description in my writing. Is it working?)

And best of all, I now have someone to help me shovel.

T shovelling

Owen, too, loves winter. With his heavy white coat and padded neck, this dog was built for snow. Don’t tell me it wasn’t Fate that rescued him from the deep South and brought him up here. Some things in the world have to make sense.

Owen in the snow

He likes to play tug-of-war with himself.

tug-of-war in the snow

Because he’s a freak. He also likes to eat snow. Clean snow. Dirty snow. Soft snow, crunchy snow. A lot of snow.

Owen eats snow

Because he’s a freak.

Anyway…

The fluttering flakes instantly inspired a trail tribute.

So, here is a post I should’ve posted long ago:

Snowy Willard

We did our first winter hike! Back in December, when T first got home, we spent a few days up at Bear Mountain Lodge. While we were there, we took a few hours one afternoon to hike Mount Willard.

Willard Trailhead

All 2,865 ft of it. Okay, fine. The elevation gain was only 900 ft. But the views were as good as some of the 3,500-footers I’ve been on and the trail itself, with its snow-blanketed trees, was almost as lovely as anything I’ve ever seen.

T on Willard

It was a good pick for our first winter trail. The slight slip of the snow gave a little extra challenge to a 3-mile roundtrip hike and, though we carried our snowshoes, we never needed them on the packed trail.

Which is good, because I hate snowshoeing. It’s way too much work.

The incline of this trail had me sweating pretty good, though. I was stripping off layers at every turn. By the time we reached the top I was down to my polypro shirt and microfleece and I was carrying my hat and mittens.

T commented that the snow overhang made it feel like we were walking in a closed corridor. This was true and never more evident than as we broke through to the summit.

Towards Willard summit

(Look familiar? See blog header for reference.)

Once we hit the ledge on top…

Willard Summit

Did I mention that the views were amazing?

Still on the emotional high that comes from reuniting with a husband who had been in a war zone for nine months, every day of which I feared for his safety, I cried tears of awe and joy as I looked out over this scene. Hiking with T infused me with more happiness than I thought I could feel again and it overwhelmed me in wave after wave.

Me & T on Willard

Once we had looked our fill and were starting to feel chilly, we started back. On the way down, we came across a gray jay. Gray jays are pretty much blue jays, only slightly bigger and, um, gray.

gray jay

They also differ from blue jays in that they have no fear. Whereas blue jays are screaming pansies that shy away from chickadees at the bird feeder, gray jays will perch lightly on your hand to peck daintily at a proffered crumb.

 No really.

gray jay on Mt Tom

Mt Tom (shown above) is the only other place I’ve seen gray jays. T, Denis and I spent a chilly afternoon one September in 2007 feeding them portions of our lunch.

Seeing them on Willard was like seeing an old friend. Everything about this hike was perfect.

Or maybe I was just seeing it through rose-colored glasses.

T+S

But I’m okay with that.