When last I posted on the new garden enclosure, it was still just a base, sitting in our garage. Well, I’m happy to report that the garden enclosure construction is now complete, and so far I’ve planted some onions, peas and mesculin lettuce blend in their new home.
I was kind of in a quandary over how to best describe the building process, since it was sweet Hubberman that did all the planning and work on this project. Soooo…I asked him to do more work and write up a guest post on the topic! What a guy I’ve got! Take it away…Hubberman!
To create the most square perimeter, the outer portion of the garden planter was built in the garage. It is utilizing four (4) 8’x2”x10” boards. The corners are screwed utilizing deck 3” deck screws. The base was then moved to its planned location. This is one of the most flat portions of our yard, but far from perfect. Fortunately, I was able to just add a concrete brick at one of the corners, which allowed the base to be level in one direction and have the same slope in the other direction (not level). I would have preferred the whole base to be perfectly level, but this would have required much more site work, which for this structure was really not necessary.
Now that the outer base is set, the inner beds need to be created. This was accomplished by utilizing the same 8’x10” boards to create 2’ beds. One (1) of the 8’x10” boards runs parallel to the rear 8’ outer board creating a 2’x8’ bed. The other two (2) 8’x10” boards are cut to length to create the other two (2) 2’ beds and are approximately 6’ in length. All connections are secured utilizing the 3” deck screws.
The next step is to mount the four (4) corner posts. Prior to mounting the 4”x4” post, we had to determine how high we wanted the beds to be protected from deer. After much contemplation, we decided that the protective netting would be at a height of 64”. The posts were cut to approximately 67”. The reason that the corner posts are cut slightly longer is to purely for aesthetics. We plan on putting some form of cap on the corners. The posts were then screwed into the outer corners utilizing the 3” deck screws. I only used a single screw so that later while squaring the posts, they were not totally locked into position.
At the front of the garden beds, there will be a door. Utilizing two (2) 2”x4”s, additional pillars were mounted. One (1) at an approximate distance of 24” from the left front corner and one (1) approximately distance of 42” from the right front corner. This creates an opening of approximately 30.5”. It was very important that these two (2) pillars be level and plumb or the door will not open and close correctly and will not look right.
It was now time to connect all the post and pillars. Utilizing 2”x3”s, I created the top most portion of the garden planter with 2.5” deck screws. This step is important because it will help pull all the corner posts into square. For the length of the upper beam, measure the inner portion of the 4”x4” post at the top of the 2’x10” base. This may require someone (our children helped me) to help push and pull the post as you screw the upper beam in. This same process should be used at the front where the door will be installed.
This next step will vary based on the material used to create a barrier to wildlife like deer. We decided to use a plastic mesh as the covering. The width and length of the plastic mesh dictated the support structure necessary to mount the covering. For our purposes, I added two (2) 2”x3” vertical support beams toward the middle portion of the two (2) sides and rear with 2.5” deck screws. This will allow the plastic mesh to be rolled from the top to bottom to be stapled and then decoratively capped with 2”x4”s at the corner and 2”x3”s at the top, bottom and two (2) middle supports.
With the plastic mesh attached, it was time to add the decorative caps at the outer edges. To save cost on materials, I purchased 10’ 2”x4”s (which could be cut in half) to cover the corner posts over the mesh utilizing the 2.5” deck screws. I would have done the same with some of the 2”x3”s, but I was only able to find 8’ lengths of the material. As you can now see in the photo below, adding the 2”x4”s and 2”x3”s creates a nice finished look to the structure.
The door is sized to fit the created opening. The outer part of the frame are 2”x4”s with three (3) 2”x3”s between the 2”x4”s, one at the top, one at the middle and one at the bottom. Each is connected utilizing the 3” deck screws. Once framed, I utilized a 2”x4” on the left side to add additional support for the hinges that will be mounted. On the right side of the door, I utilized 2”x3”s for less weight but still adding extra frame support. The mesh is stapled to the rear of the front façade.
Hand Staple Gun
Compound Miter Saw
I started my seeds a little differently this year. For the past two years, I planted seeds on a very small scale, using just a few peat pots and a homemade light hut. Well, this year, an unexpected gift from my gardening mentor (otherwise known as my dad) gave me the push I needed to turn things up a notch.
Dad has decided to garden 100% from plants this year. No seeds. So he packed up his Burpee grow light and heating mat and gifted it to me! Score! I’m using these with a moisture wicking mat I already own and it’s working great. Just enough heat and moisture to keep my seedlings happy.
I also tried some new seed starting containers this year. Instead of peat pots, I’m using seed starting pellets which expand with the addition of about an ounce of warm water on each pellet. Just in case the pellets were a total fail, I used an egg carton for a dozen seeds as well.
Turns out the seeds love them both! I didn’t plant a ton of seeds, mind you, but 100% of what I did plant sprouted! That’s never happened for me before. I think the combination of good seed starting soil, along with the warmth from the heater and moisture wicked from below the seed containers was a great combination. Unlike previous years, I’ve managed to avoid mold so far as well.
Here’s hoping these little guys grow up as successfully as they have started!
Winter has been a bit underwhelming this year in our region. All the things my family loves about this season have been sorely lacking. Namely, snow. The kids actually resorted to trying to sled on sleet a few weeks back. Instead of lots of fun, fluffy white stuff (remember, we homeschool and hubberman works from home so getting snowed in is fun for us) we have instead been getting an abundance of grey skies and wind. Lots and lots of wind.
Add to that the Seasonal Affective Disorder that seems to be scooping up people by the armful, and then sending them all out twitchy and grumpy on the roads to honk their dissatisfaction at anything that moves.
I think we all need a little sunshine about now!
While keeping the plates of homeschool spinning over the past two months, I’ve been staring longingly at my seed and garden catalogs. I’ve decided, it’s time. Tomorrow I sit down with my seed catalog and plan out and order this spring’s garden.
Last year, I made a point of journaling my lessons learned my first year of gardening. Now that I have two years under my belt, I’m adding to my list of lessons and goals. Here’s what I have so far:
- This year, no cabbages. They were yummy and all, but they just take up too much square foot garden real estate. There is so much more I can be doing with that space.
- No squash either. Same reason.
- Last year’s amount of green beans was perfect! Just enough to keep a steady flow coming in the kitchen without being overwhelming. Plant the same this year.
- Try a leaning trellis for cucumbers. I don’t want to give up on cucumbers just yet, and I think that a trellis might be the answer. I’ll give them one more chance to not be annoying in my garden, and then sadly they will have to go the way of the squash.
- Try a few new things I have not tried yet. As I browse the seed catalog, I’m going to challenge myself to order something a little unusual, just to give it a whirl. You never know until you try!
What are your garden plans this year?
A Grow Camp update is long overdue. The only remnant from the summer vegetables are the bell peppers and they are still going strong, despite the cold evenings we have had lately. So far, my autumn plantings are doing great – red and green leaf lettuce, onions and arugula are all sprouted and growing. I just hope my onions get big and strong enough to last through the winter. Enjoy the gallery…mouse over for captions. I threw in a photo of one of our pretty yellow mums for good measure. Happy Monday!