Remember the spot where we took down the old pop-up shed? In August '06, when we had the concrete patio put in, the installer kindly used some decomposed granite to give us a fairly level 5' x 5' area to serve as the shed's base. At least I'm pretty sure that it was decomposed granite. So we had a basically level spot with several inches of material that wouldn't be conducive to growth next to the vegetable garden. Have you guessed where we're heading yet? A raised bed:
On Sunday I went to Home Depot and bought a 2x12x16 piece of pressure treated lumber. First tip -- bring a friend with you to buy large pieces of lumber. I left VPH at home prepping the site and regretted it almost immediately. I found an employee to help me try to find a straight piece of lumber that wasn't too beat up and he quickly tired of my pickiness, or I just felt guilty making him help me lift down and examine piece after piece. Then I had the nice man cut it into four 4' long pieces for me. Some exterior screws and an impulse buy of 2 Husky Cherry tomato plants later (but look at the 2 plants/container -- I can divide them into 4, so it was like buying them half-priced) I headed home:
I'm not going to bore you with how to build the box, there's any number of videos out there instructing you in different methods, and I'm not going to debate pressure-treated lumber and what terrible chemicals might seep into your veggies and kill you. I think the risk is pretty low, but I did line the box with landscape fabric to be on the safe side:
You can see above that I took the rubber edging that used to demarcate the end of the veggie garden and turned it to incorporate the new raised bed. We had one bag of mulch (very wet mulch) on hand, which didn't quite reach all the way behind the raised bed, and the rubber edging didn't quite reach from the back of the bed to the fence, but I think that when I buy more mulch I'll be able to cover that up pretty well:
We spent the rest of our daylight hours moving soil from last year's tomato containers into the new bed (no tomatoes or potatoes will be planted here) and ran out of daylight with only about 1/4 - 1/3 of the bed filled. VPH was on spring break this week so I had a list of chores a mile long for him and first up on Monday was to dig out soil from the large cedar tomato planters and other spots and finish filling the new bed. I stepped outside that morning to show him exactly which containers needed to be emptied and that's where things went off schedule. Long incredibly scary story short, he managed to partially tear his calf muscle and is completely out of commission for weeks...well when it comes to garden chores he's out of commission. He can limp around and hopefully will be able to work when school starts back up on Monday.
So now it was Tuesday and I had onion sets sitting on my kitchen table that really needed to get in the ground along with cooler season seeds that really needed to be planted. But I also had an injured husband who was having trouble getting around the house, a job they kind of like me to show up to, and rain in the forecast for Friday. Obviously I wasn't going to be able to spend as much time moving soil around the garden as VPH would have, so I was going to have to buy some potting soil. I was finally able to take some time late on Wednesday afternoon to stop in at my favorite local nursery and charmed the proprietor into selling me three 3.8 cubic foot bags of soil-less mix at cost, which just fit into my trunk (and probably saved me about $50 versus buying 8 or 9 of the largest size bags of potting soil available at your various box stores, not to mention my back loading them into the car all alone):
At first I planned to break up the compressed soil -- I know it's not really soil, but I'm going to call it soil from this point forward -- onto the tarp, but then I thought, uh wouldn't it save time to do it right in the raised bed? One package should yield about 8 cubic feet, so I hoped I would be able to get by with one and 2 partially used large bags of potting soil I had near the potting table. This is when I had the block about 1/3 broken up:
And here it is late Thursday completely planted! From right to left are one row each of Detroit Dark Red beets, Beauty Mix radishes, Salad Rose radishes, Early Scarlet Globe radishes, Burpee A#1 Hybrid carrots, one and half rows of Danvers Half Long carrots, and half a row of Tonda di Parisi carrots. Along the base of the trellis I planted Spacemaster cucumbers and I plan to grow them up the trellis. And I planted Jewel Mix nasturium around the perimeter of the bed (I removed the seed packets once I documented what I had planted where):
So I met my self-imposed deadline of beating the rain and getting the cooler weather crops in by April 15th. I did get the peas in way back on March 18th and now they're big enough that I had to get the netting hung, so I went out in 45 degree weather on Friday to take care of it:
This is the one other thing I wanted to get done before the rain arrived -- dividing the yellow hakone grass and using part of it in one of the new containers on the big stump. After I stole some (maybe VPH will be able to sit here and weed soon):
I also put a hosta that I had hanging around into the other small container on the stump and could not for the life of me get the containers level again, so I gave up:
The wildflower seed that VPH scattered on April 1st is beginning to sprout:
And finally, the ferns in the containers are putting up fiddle-heads -- this one is potentially calendar-worthy:
A Japanese Painted fern (I think):
And the Cinnamon fern makes an appearance:
I can't wait to see how the raised bed does. And I'm so pleased that I was to meet the deadline since about 30 minutes after I finished it started to pour and is forecast to continue to do so all weekend.