Sunday, February 19, 2012

Garden Project

So there haven't been many sewing posts lately...I am still sewing, just a bit sporadically.  I got a serger for Christmas (thanks Sweetie!) and have been experimenting with knits.

My main project at the moment, though, is getting ready for spring by putting together a garden.  I am doing a raised bed garden.  Last weekend I got the raised bed kit from Home Depot, and this weekend I assembled the bed and went to a local place to get soil.

I used the Greene's 4x8 raised bed garden kit from Home Depot:
To it, I made several additions.  I had found this tutorial online for building a raised bed garden, and decided to take a couple of things from it. First, to suspend bird netting over the garden when necessary, I added 1" PVC pipes inside the bed at 6 places.  When needed, 1/2" PVC pipe will be arched between the pipes. I used galvanized pipe hanger tape to secure the PVC to the wood frame.  Then, I used some of the same tape to tie together the slats to the 3 shorter sides of the frame.

Second, our yard definitely has moles, but I wonder whether it also has voles.  Moles are carnivores (i.e., earthworms), but voles are omnivores, which means voles are a danger for gardens, while moles aren't. So, I used my heavy duty stapler to staple 1/4" metal mesh fencing to the bottom of the garden bed.  Since the mesh is also 4' in one direction, this also helped me square the bed.

You can see the pipes and the mesh in these photos. The bed is upside down in all the photos.

The taller bed is 10.5" and the shorter bed is 7".  Which mean that I needed about 23 cubic feet of soil.  I looked into bags, then I looked on the internet for places I could get good soil in bulk.  I found the Compost Farm in Brentwood.  It turns out this place is situated on a tucked-away corner of a huge estate that also has a horse-boarding facility.  Hundreds of horses on hundreds of acres leads to a lot of manure, stable straw, and yard waste to make ideal soil.  The soil is aged for 16 months before it is ready for use.  If you're curious, it just smells like dirt, not like what you might be thinking.  :-)  To get soil or compost, you call the number on their website to set up an appointment.  The estate is gated (also, the address isn't posted on their website AND the soil site is about a mile (!) from the gate), so you can't just drop by.

To continue to make a short story long, the Compost Farm sells soil in cubic yards and in bags, but the price in bags is about twice the price in bulk.  So I rented a truck and went to work.  Here are pictures of the soil before I started to unload it.

Thank goodness I could back the truck through the fence into the back yard.

My motivation was reinforced by the knowledge that I had a few more hours before I needed to return the truck, spotless, to the rental facility.  No time for feeling tired when you've got a deadline!

For any of you thinking 'no big deal' when looking at that, I dare you to try this yourself.  The soil is moist and dense with organic matter.  Even at interstate speeds, there was almost no bits blowing off (I ended up taking local roads to prevent fellow motorists from being irritated with what little blowoff there was).  Luckily there is a wheel barrow at our house, a shovel, and a pitch fork.  Thank goodness for all of those, there is no way I could have gotten the work done without them.  I moved about 20 wheel barrows full of soil, and each barrow had about 20 shovels of soil, so you can understand why today my back is sore, my arms are sore, my wrists and ankles are sore, my neck is sore, you get the picture.  Here is the final product:

In this view you can see the greenhouse-like structure at the back of our yard.

In this view you can see the pretty arbor/arch at the entry of our garden.  Our house is off the picture to the left.
After filling each side up about halfway, I used the cardboard box, flattened, from the raised bed garden to tamp down the soil.  I walked on the cardboard to tamp down the soil.  After tamping, I filled the bed and tamped again.  I'll fill again before I plant. 

I have soil left over for pots.  I am spending a lot of time planning my garden.  Since we are in Zone 7 here in Nashville, I am hoping to get 3 plantings out of much of the garden.  It will be almost entirely vegetables, with a few flowers, strawberries, and herbs thrown in for good measure.  Mint will be in a pot.  I'm even going to try potatoes.  I am going to plant them in the back of the garden, using the method of piling straw/leaves/compost around the stems as they grow.  To keep the straw from getting all over the garden, I'll put fencing around the potato plant.  

All right, enough for now!

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