The Box Outside the Garden

My current garden space is 625 square feet. When I first designed the garden it seemed huge. That feeling didn’t last long, so I had to come up with a plan. This will be my third year gardening here, the first year was a total failure, the second year I saw some improvement. Setting the stage for my third year, I am starting earlier and planning my weekends around some manual labor. Below is the garden now, still slumbering from winter for the most part. You may have read my last garden blog entry about the burn we did.

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Every year I want to try something new in the garden, and this year it’s strawberries. The cool thing about strawberries is they come back every year, so I am planting a crop that will hopefully last a while. Being that they like raised beds, we decided to make a bed on the outside of the garden which will also hold our squash varieties and onions. I decided to incorporate these veggies for two reasons. First, squash plants are deer resistant  and second, strawberries and onions are companion plants. Companion planting is the idea that certain plants grow better when they are around other plants due to soil nutrients and pest control.

Our first step was to remove the top sod. Not easy! The grass did not want to leave its home, but we finally got it all up. Here is my husband doing some hoe work and the baby on stand-by.

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Next we laid some weed block under where the front and sides of the bed will be. The back side will be up against the garden, and I’m hoping we won’t have too many weeds peaking out. I didn’t put the weed block over the entire bed because I didn’t want it to harm any root growth from my plants. I plan to line the outside of my beds with mulch, which will make mowing around them so much easier.

We decided on 12-inch-high boxes, mostly due to the cost of buying good fill soil would add up quick! The type of wood we used was Douglas Fir, which has the reputation to last a good while, and it is one of the cheaper woods available. Cedar would have been preferred, but our budget would not allow it. IMPORTANT: Never use treated wood when working around your garden. The chemicals can seep into your plants, and since you probably eat your plants – you get the picture. It’s bad. Don’t do it.

Ever have to run back to the hardware store more than once in a day? No? Me either. Obviously I’m kidding. My husband forgot that we needed wood for the back of the beds, so we had a break while he ran to Home Depot, all the while I rolled my eyes in disbelief. Putting the beds together was pretty easy compared to the sod removal. One big long box, with one divider where the strawberries will go since they send out runners. We also drove some cedar stakes into the back of the bed so the bed wouldn’t move around over time. The planks of wood were long, but we still had to marry two together with some scrap wood to make the full length of the garden. We also drove a stake in at the seam of the joined planks, and added some screws for additional support.

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Today we set out to make a bed, and we actually accomplished it. We also had my daughters swim lesson, a baby we are trying to wean to one nap per day, and our 5-year-old had his first pay date over. Not a big project today but one we set out to complete and we did. That deserves a celebration.

Gardening is my home remedy for therapy. Actually when my husband joins in it feels like couples therapy. We argue here and there, question each other, joke around, and celebrate together when the work is over. It feels good on the body and the soul to get a project done.

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