It’s springtime and that means a lot of things and one thing that we’ve been anxiously waiting for is to start a garden! Especially with today’s circumstances in this COVID-19 health crisis that we’re in the middle of right now, it makes sense for a number of reasons to engage in this activity.
One of the best reasons for a home garden is that the access you get to amazingly fresh, nutritious, and delicious produce. Second, as with anything you do on your own, there is great satisfaction. Third, our busy lifestyles are a blessing in some ways, but also a curse when we’re distanced from certain aspects of reality like understanding where our food comes from and how it’s grown. Finally, and on a bleaker note, there is still a big fog over our uncertain times and future right now because of the pandemic.
It’s exceedingly difficult to predict any aspect of the future accurately, but we believe that you could do far worse with your time right now then spend some quality time outdoors in the sun planting a garden. We have some space as you’ll see in the video below, so we have a lot of options in how we create a garden. But, it’s not necessary at all to have much property and even dense city dwellers can grow vegetables no matter how little space you have. Today, there are tons of resources for growing vegetables in pretty much all circumstances, so don’t count yourself out regardless of what situation you’re in right now.
I have to admit that I did some analysis and figured that although I would love to build my own raised beds and not buy from a source, spend more money, and be left out of the whole creative process, it was probably just better to buy and not build. The reasons were that given the health crisis, I didn’t want to do a lot of local shopping. I also felt that some items were going to be hard to come by because planting a garden is popular right now not just for seasonal reasons but especially because of the pandemic. Finally, I thought that I could buy a really nice quality kit and although expensive, I could spend my time on other things and it would be justified.
Well, fast forward to finding out that my order became back-ordered and it was not going to get to me for many weeks after I was expecting it and that was that, I’m going to build my own. This is especially so because the growing season is here and waiting weeks more to get started just wasn’t going to happen. So, we canceled the order and I got cracking with a bed design and started ordering the supplies that I would need. By the way, the video I just linked for the bed design I felt was a great way to go. At first, I was over analyzing (as usual) and figured I needed to get cedar planks, but the guy that made that really useful video spoke how regular Douglas Fir is going to already last years, anyway, so I figured there’s no point in going overboard with cedar. Cedar does last longer because of it’s rot resistance, but it’s also considerably more expensive and harder to find locally for me. So, given the cost and ease of just using normal wood, I was confident to take this route. By the way, do not use normal pressure-treated lumber that is processed with chemicals and is not appropriate for your vegetable (food) needs.
Here’s a quick overview of the project and what supplies it entails:
- Two 4’x8′ raised beds using 12″ width boards, which means an 8′ length, 4′ width, and 1′ height of each bed
- Quick math will tell you that this will give us 64 square feet of planting space across the two beds
- Lumber required will be…
- (4) 8′ long 12″ Douglas Fir planks
- (4) 4′ long 12″ Douglas Fir planks
- (6) 8′ long 2×4″ studs
- (4) 4′ long 2×4″ studs
- Pack of 9 x 2 1/2″ exterior wood screws
The following items are optional if you already have the means to safely and easily cut wood. Note: your local home improvement store (Lowe’s, The Home Depot) typically will cut your wood for free, when you purchase and pick up your lumber. So, that’s an option. But, if you want the flexibility to control your own destiny and not go back and forth or get stuck if you make a mistake, nothing beats the excellent investment in quality tools for your household. Especially noawadays, there are very reasonable in cost and there are excellent items out there like the ones we own and recommend.
Here are a few more general garden items that you will also need, if you don’t already have. These are ones we personally use and recommend:
- A wheelbarrow
- A digging shovel
- A pair of hand pruners
- a hoe
- a watering can
- here you can see the irrigation system that we used
We’re not in an urban setting, so we also needed to make sure our vegetable garden area is blocking access to visitors like deer and other friends that would come and munch on the garden. If you have similar circumstances, here’s the fence that we built that is easy, inexpensive, and quick:
- A roll of PVC-coated welded wire fence
- A pack of fence posts
- a 4lb engineering hammer, great for knocking the fence posts into the ground and many other uses
- a pack of zip ties to attach your rolled fence onto the fence posts and you’re in business!
Here’s a video that outlines the whole process of getting the area prepared, making the raised beds, and then getting started with the planting:
The process is very simple, fun, and it’s an excellent project alone to spend some time outside or with your family. Check out the original video I referenced for more details as I pretty much stuck to it exactly as he described the process. Give me a shout if you have any questions about any of the above, have questions about the process, or any of the equipment that we used.
And, finally, here’s what we have planted so far and we are excited to see them grow!!
- Tomatoes: Torburn’s Terra-Cotta, Paul Robeson, Carbon, Abe Lincoln, Ananas Noire, and Raspberry Lyanna
- Peppers: California Wonder, Ajvarski, Jalapeno, amd Habanero
- Herbs: Triple Curled Parsley, American Flag Leek, Wild Rocket Arugular, and Cilantro
- Other: Tomatillo, Red Leaf Swiss Chard, Red Ursa Kale, Chinese Celery, Chirimen Hakusai Chinese Cabbage, Early Long Purple Eggplant, Moon & Stars Melon, another mystery melon, and Tender Green Beans
The beds still have a little room for a few more plants, so we may get a few new surprises soon.