Brunch and Garden Beds

Today has been full and I’m exhausted. I didn’t have the energy to make dinner tonight – I was absolutely done at 7 pm – so we just snacked on leftovers from brunch today. I’d made spinach and cheese strata from Smitten Kitchen, home-made donuts with honey glaze from Dinner with Julie, fresh fruit, bacon and mimosas. It was lovely, but I would think that since I cooked it.

All the brunching gave us the energy to finish the raised garden beds we started building yesterday. Over the winter I’d read about square foot gardening, and we’d decided to give it a try this summer. I’d planned a new vegetable garden bed, then Jonny wanted asparagus and quickly our garden plan grew to include four new raised beds.  Since it is starting to be spring, and all those seedlings need somewhere to go, it was time to build the beds.

The beds are based on the very simple design in Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening but are 12″ deep (except the asparagus bed – it’s 18″)and have different dimensions than the standard 4′ x 4′ beds. You can see 2″x4″ braces in the corners of the beds – these allowed us to construct with 6″ wide boards, and will give us somewhere to attach a rabbit proofing structure if needed. Everything is held together with 3 1/2″ deck screws, and we used layers of old newspaper on the bottom of the beds to create a weed barrier. We used plain, untreated wood which will have a shorter life span but is 1/5 the cost of cedar and won’t release any funny chemicals like treated or painted wood.

Because of the dimensions of the beds there was very little cutting and measuring to do so construction went quickly. Leveling the beds and then moving the dirt was the slow (and tiring) part.

After relocating our 8 cubic yards of soil, we built a 12′ x 4′ bed for the asparagus, and a 6′ x 4′ bed for vegetables along the north edge of the yard yesterday before our aching muscles wouldn’t move another shovelful of dirt.

This morning while the donut dough was rising we built a 10′ x 4′ vegetable bed.

And spent the afternoon constructing a large (20′ x 2.5′) bed along the side of the garage. This bed was tricky because unlike the other 3 beds it wasn’t being installed on (fairly) flat ground and had to be stepped down and dug in. After a few false start (thank goodness we used screws instead of nails!) we got it and I am happy with the finished product.

Overall we added 160 square feet of garden space. Even though the cost to build the new beds (mostly the garden soil) was higher than if we’d just dug beds, these raised beds should be lower maintenance and will have way better soil.  There is still dirt to move, and I need to construct a square foot planting grid for each bed, but we’re on schedule for planting by the end of the month!

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