Friday, May 8, 2009

In response

to my last post, my husband sent me this:

Since "WE" built this box, I thought I would give "our" perspective on how to get 'er dun.( hahaaaa-Lesley)

From the builder himself….

So as my lovely and talented wife has stated earlier, (Is that sarcasm?-Lesley) I don’t like gardening. If the end result of sweating in the Georgia heat, rubbing blisters on my hands digging in the most rock-laden soil on the earth is to look at pretty things, I could forego the manual labor and sit around and look at her all day (brownie points?yes-Lesley), but pretty things I can eat….now that’s something I can sink my teeth into. Pun intended.

I agree with Lesley that the sunset website is most excellent for all things garden and home. They even have a “how to” about building an outdoor Adobe oven. Nice!
But if internet how to’s were as easy as they seemed on them interwebs, we’d all be living in our dream homes right now! So what I offer is this:

The layman’s guide to dumbing your way through Sunset’s perfect raised garden! Bon appetite!

(first caveat: if I sound like I’m writing with any authority, it’s only because I’ve heard someone say it before. Differing opinions are welcome, and probably right!)

So first thing’s first, get your shop on! The list is pretty straight forward, but I did encounter a couple of problems.
*Problem #1: 8 foot 2x6’s in cedar or redwood are on the same aisle as unicorns and dodo birds. Happy hunting! My solution was to buy 8 foot 1x6’s in cedar. The only issue of that is that 1.5 cubic yards of dirt weighs quite a bit, so it’s probably a keen idea to reinforce the cedar boards. I bought 24” untreated fence stakes to use as bracers. We’ll go over their use in a bit.
*Problem #2: I ran out of screws, didn’t buy the right size screws for the stake bracers, and didn’t buy enough hardware cloth. The largest hardware cloth at my HD is 4’x5’. The footprint of your garden bed is 4’x8’, purchase accordingly. Also, if you are going to install the stake bracers, you will need screws that are long enough to get through the stake and cedar board (appx 2 inches), so I bought 1 ¾ inch #8 screws. Your mileage may vary.

-a note about pressure treated lumber and why it’s a no no. Pressure treated lumber contains chromium, copper and arsenic. If you’ve ever watched Perry Mason, Matlock, or Murder She Wrote, you know arsenic=bad, but if you’ve already built a bed out of PT lumber, don’t induce vomiting just yet. Chromium is really only a doosie when inhaled and copper isn’t toxic to mammals. The arsenic in PT lumber leaches into the soil during the first rainy season, but it doesn’t leach more than a few inches into the soil, and plants only absorb a little of it (in the parts that we don’t eat). If you have already constructed a bed out of PT lumber, just be sure to plant your root veggies several inches away from the edge of the bed. My recommendation is that if you have not yet constructed your raised bed, get cedar or redwood and let’s not worry about Angela Landsbury showing up at your front door! (for more info about PT lumber go here: pressure treated wood in beds.

{the zaz}

Let’s build!! The instructions on Sunset are actually quite simple to follow. The one thing I don’t think they talk about is staining the wood. Cedar is naturally water resistant, but for a longer lasting garden bed, you’ll want to stain the wood. Since cedar is also naturally very handsome, I used a natural colored, oil based stain. Let it dry overnight, and you’re good to go.

Now cut two of the 8 foot 1x6’s (or 2x6’s if you could find them) into 4 four foot 1 (or2) x 6’s (layman’s English: cut two of the 8 footers in half). Build a box using the 4x4 as the attachment point. When you get the fourth side of the box, you’ll either need a buddy to hold the board in place, or a finishing nail. Now that you’ve got all four sides put together, do it again.

So your box is built! Now you’ve got to place it. Find a spot in your yard that gets full sun and is hopefully somewhat level. If your yard is level, get your post hole digger and dig four holes deep enough to accommodate the 4x4 post. Once the posts are in place, fill in the holes and move on. Our yard, unfortunately, has more slope than a black diamond in Colorado!
Here’s my (somewhat) successful solution.

Get out the pick axe (or Maddox as it were) and start whistling John Henry. Dig a trench that follows the outline of your bed. Dig it deep enough that the bed will sit flush on the ground. Obviously, the hill side will need to be deeper than the valley side so that the box is level. This part of the project involves a lot of brute force and ignorance, and you’ll have to keep trying until you get it right. Ladies, go ahead and get a beer in the icebox for your man, he’s really gonna need it! I’m not going to write any more on this subject because frankly my hands still hurt, and I’m still mad at my yard for being so slopey!

Now that the bed is level, use the dirt from your trench to fill in all the exposed holes that you just dug. Remove all the grass from inside the box and make sure the soil is pretty much level. It may or may not be necessary to remove the grass, as it will all die when it is covered in a foot of dirt, but why not. You’re already sweaty and dirty.

mmmmmm....stake. If you've used 1x6's, I'd recommed bracing the walls. I chose to put the stakes inside the box. They will probably offer less support that way, but they'll look prettier (by not being visible at all). On the 8 foot wall, I measured to center. At 48 inches (center) I marked a spot two inches away in both directions. Line up your hash mark with the center of the stake and get to hammering! Do the same for the other hash mark. Now measure 24 inches from the side, make a hash mark, and set your stake. Do the same for the other side. You should now have 4 reinforcing stakes on the 8 foot wall. Rinse and repeat for the other 8 foot wall. For the 4 foot wall, I only put in two stakes, two inches on either side of the center. Screw them all into place using two screws per stake.

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Kate Kiefer said...


In The Cottage said...

Can someone please pass the adult diapers?... Too funny!!!!