Raising Vegetables

Ahh... this was fun. Once we tore out all that concrete, the next big thing was to build a raised vegetable garden. Pretty standard idea around these parts: have dirt, grow vegetables. I had been fantasizing about this since the first time we saw the yard. The back corner is the perfect locale as this spot gets sun all day long.

Other blogs got me motivated. It seemed everyone was out there building, growing, even harvesting! Time to stop thinking and just start doing. My default resource for anything garden is Sunset and their method of building the box seemed reasonable. I wanted mine to fill a corner so I did a little modification to the design. My box ended up being 8', both ways, from the corner and 3' wide so I can still reach the far back.

This was too easy. We were able to cut all the wood using a borrowed table saw, then you assemble it upside down on a hard surface. For the beams, we used redwood as suggested, and the 4x4 posts were salvaged from the part of the pergola that we tore down. The 4x4s are chemically treated wood, a big no-no, but since they are so old and have been outside for years I'm not concerned about them seeping into my veggies. The redwood is gorgeous. (I would like to point out that I went alone to purchase this redwood from the Home Depot. The beams were on a high shelf and not ONE employee helped me. I gathered the big yellow metal staircase myself and dragged each board down one by one. Thanks guys!)

{a couple of my corners aren't perfectly square because the 4x4s were wavy. I'm trying not to let this affect my OCD.}

Then you screw everything together with 3 1/2" wood screws. This was the only hard part because sadly, my drill that I've had forever and a day is dying. Even with new batteries, it won't hold a charge. I was in denial and stubbornly refused to accept its death. This meant I could get about 5 screws in at a time, then have to wait a day to charge the battery. Ridiculous. Mike stepped in as the Voice of Reason and we checked out a drill. Once I had that, I banged the rest out in minutes.

Positioning the box was harder than I thought. That mother is heavy, and leveling the ground is no picnic. It became really obvious how NOT square our fence is too. I'm pretending its imperfection is beautiful in a way. Right? No? Oh well.

Next up was placing the mesh screen. The idea being to prevent rodents from digging up and eating the goodies. Crafty little buggers they are.

After that, dirt! We got all our dirt from American Soil & Stone in Richmond. LOVE this place. They suggested a combination of dirts to aid in drainage and nutrients. One was called Local Hero, genius. It took two truckloads with the S10, but cost less than $80. We don't own a wheelbarrow so Mike hauled all this in using our trash cans. Thanks honey!

All set for planting! There's something about this new dirt I find cleansing. I take pride in enriching soil that had been neglected for so long. We literally have no worms, you can dig and dig and find nothing. That's amazing to me.

We chose a combination of seedlings and seeds. I wanted to feel a certain amount of instant gratification, but also need to hone seed skills.

Our ready-mades:
Green Beans
Green Peppers
Red Peppers
Romaine Lettuce
Yellow Squash

Our seeds:
Yellow Onion

Melissa, one of my dear friends, hooked me up with an EarthBox. I planted two tomatoes here, a cherry and a sandwich variety (Big Boy maybe?). So far so good, the plants have doubled in size!

You can also see the crushed granite we used to fill the gap between the box and the old concrete. Also from American Soil, I chose Blue Pathway. I like the permeable qualities of crushed granite as well as it's modern aesthetic. I plan to use the same stuff along the side of our house currently being taken over with weeds. Growl.

Ta Da! Isn't it lovely? I couldn't be happier. So far everyone seems happy except the green pepper, which has wilting leaves. I'm thinking it's too cold at night so I need to come up with a way to keep the roots warm. Otherwise, all seems well. I come out every morning to water and just stare at it. Happiness.

Oh hey, you can see the pergola all painted black. Swanky right? Don't tell anyone, but we still need to paint the tops. I need to do this before they update the Google satellite pics.


    Congrats on all the planting -- wanna race Earthboxes? My tomatoes went in mine 2 weeks ago... wait, you said you get sun all day long? OK, let's not race :-)

    LOVE the black pergola!

  2. Thanks Jane! I want to see your EarthBox and garden too! I'm sure you've done something awesome back there, even with your wonky weather. I do love a good Chicago backyard... send me some pics please!

  3. Very nice work. Your Home Depot experience is easily replicated on the east coast. Apparently, they are consistent when it comes to customer service.

  4. Wow, your raised bed looks great! We've been dragging our feet on actually putting any soil in ours, but soon this Chicago cold snap will break, and we'll planting too (hopefully). Nice work!