Monday, June 8, 2009

Week 1: First Looks

From That's a Garden?

Here's what the plants look like a few days after planting. Some look better than others, but they all appear to be hanging in there for now.

There's also a shot of the hanging tomato planter. We actually started that about a week ago. It was designed for grape tomatoes, but we planted full size ones anyway. As you can see they are starting to yellow. They looked much better a few days ago. A lot of people seem to have success with hanging gardens so don't write them off all together if ours fails.

Kenny from work told me to watch out for dry soil in a raised planter like that. I have to say he was right on. I watered it this morning and after work it was the driest I've seen it.

I peeked at some of the pea seeds and was happy to see that they've started to make their way upwards. I expect they'll break through in the next day or so.

One more thing... Hailey's got her own Spongebob garden in the kitchen. We put a some pea seeds in some cartoon dixie cups so she could take care of them in the house. They are making progress as well. One is breaking through the surface already.

Here's where the peas are planted.

Here's the tomato planter

Here's the rest

Here's the Spongebob plants

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Unconventional Dog Barrier

Jodi and I have talked about having a garden for a couple years now, but nothing serious ever came of it. That changed this year when Jodi bought one of those upside down tomato planters from a fundraiser that our three year old's school was having. That tomato planter inspired me to get off the couch and build a spot for a small garden.

Our raised (off-the-ground) garden planter is 8 feet long by 4 feet wide. The bottom of the box sits about 3 feet off the ground. The box itself is about 1 foot deep. Worried that chemicals from treated lumber might end up in our veggies, I settled on cedar. We built if off the ground to keep the dogs out and to block the dogs from barking at the dogs next door.

Here's what I bought.

13 - 1 x 6 x 8
2 - 4 x 4 x 8

The only cuts I had to make were cutting the 4 x 4's in half to make the 4 legs and cutting two of the 1 x 6's in half for the end panels.

I assembled it upside down on my back patio. I started by creating the two end sections. I used some paneling nails to tack two stacked 4 ft panels to the posts. With the two end sections assembled, I tacked four of the 8 ft panels to finish the box. At this point I was concerned that the box was going to be too tall and I wouldn't be able to easily reach the bed while standing next to it. To remedy this, I removed the bottom course (really the top, but it's still upside down) and re-tacked them above the second course. I was pretty happy with this arrangement so I used some screws to permanently affix the panels to the posts.

So now I've got four posts and the sides of my planer assembled. It was time to start the floor. I just laid the remaining seven panels evenly spaced on the assembly and screwed them down.

For some finishing touches I used some old damaged fence panels to create diagonal cross braces on the two end sections. Jodi helped me carry it over to the dog's favorite barking zoze along the fence. We flipped it over and marveled at our new toy. At this point I thought I was done.

Here's some things I'd do differently if I do it again.

Reconsider my choice to use cedar instead of treated lumber. I found that arsenic is no longer used in treated lumber. As for the actual leaching concern, studies have shown that when arsenic was used, leaching was negligible.

More importantly I'd add some additional bracing to the underside of the bed. I didn't plan on having 1500 pounds of dirt and water suspended in the air. I screwed a 2 x 4 x 4 under the center of the box. While i was loading it with dirt, I noticed that the bottom was still sagging quite a bit. I cut a couple 2 x 4's to size, laid a couple of stacked fence panels on the ground and used a small sledge to wedge the 2 x 4's between the fence panels and the other 2 x 4 that I screwed to the bottom earlier.

What kind of dirt did I use?
2/3 regular top soil
1/3 humus-manure mix. The cheap stuff from Walmart. I used the plastic from the bags to line the bottom of the box so that the dirt wouldn't fall through the gaps in the floor.

What did we plant?
two 4 ft rows of purple hull peas
one 1 gallon sized strawberry plant
two zucchini squash plants
two bell pepper plants
one hot pepper plant
one hill (four seeds) white pumpkin
tomatoes in a hanging planter bag

When did we plant?
June 7th, 2009

Where are we?
Bentonville, Arkansas

Will it work?
Not sure. You tell me. It seems like we've probably planted too much for our small space. I'm also a bit concerned that we've only got a couple of each plant so we either won't have enough yield or they will die leaving us with nothing. Stay tuned for future posts. I'll let you know how it goes.