Today was the first day J and I emerged from the confines of our warm home to work in the yard. We definitely have Spring Fever. There was a brisk chill to the air, but the sun was nice and the temp was at least in the upper 60s. It felt so nice just to get out with a tee shirt on and no coat!
We started the day with a trip to Home Depot, and then a trip to Lowes. We bought a small wheel barrel and some yard waste bags at Lowes. Then, we went back to Home Depot to take a second look at some raised wooden flower beds we saw there which Lowes did not have. The beds were 4 x 4, some assembly, but no tools required. J decided to buy four of them. We liked them because you could also stack two of them to make a higher raised bed if you wanted, so we weren’t too worried just yet about how much space we’d have to devote to 4 new beds.
We had a makeshift raised bed the first Spring we lived here. It was a small bed where we raised a few tomato and pepper plants. We even covered the bed with plastic chicken wire to keep the critters from stealing our crop. The bed was in a bad location though and blocked our gate. The guy who mowed our yard that year had trouble maneuvering his mower around it. So, later that year we dismantled it and used the dirt to fill in a flower bed instead. Even the wood got recycled as a blockade to detract our dogs from barking at a pesky neighbor’s dog. That was five years ago. Since then, we have occasionally raised one plant or two in flower pots on the patio but that’s been about it. With the success of our herbs last year, J finally wanted to get serious about vegetables this year.
After arriving home, we both spent time cleaning up the yard. I raked the largest of our flower beds which takes up the width of our back yard. It was so nice to rake back the leaves I had placed there last October to protect some of the plants only to find fresh green sprouts along the top of the ground. I also filled a yard waste bag with old black wood mulch which we had laid in the bed two years ago. It reminded me of old charcoal and I was happy to see a lot of it go. J scouted the yard for dog poop that had collected all winter long and filled half a trash bag with it! Next, he assembled the new wooden beds.
After tearing down our deck last year, we added more space to the yard. Unfortunately, it was an odd space that we weren’t sure what to do with next. We contemplated additional permanent brick beds but decided we’d wait till this spring to make a decision. As a quick fix at the end of the season last year, we did buy brick colored mats that simulate the look of a patio and are weather proof. This helped define a space right at the back of the house where we could possibly put the grill and the outdoor table if we wanted. There was still about eight feet of space between the edge of the matted area and a row of flowers we had planted last year along our brick pathway, which would have run right along the edge of the deck had we chosen to keep it. The deck had been poorly built by the previous home owners and had gone untreated. Plus, we never sat out on it and other than being a place for the grill and some plants, it really served no purpose. We are much happier now that it is gone.
I suggested that we use this empty space between the mats and the flowers for two of the beds even though we had just planted new grass there last year. The beds fit perfectly with space left over. And the space left over was just enough for two adjoining beds since they fit together. And since they fit together and share sides, this left one of the four beds unused all together. J came up with the idea of using it to raise the back half one level. And here’s these finished product –
We used some dry ornamental grass and dead leaves to fill the bottom as mulch. Tomorrow we plan to fill the beds with dirt. Soon, we’ll be planting lettuce, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Though we love the exotic styles of veggie slips available at the farmer’s markets, we’re sticking to the basics we like. And to get an early start next year, we like the idea of cover this bed with arched PVC tubing draped in plastic to create a greenhouse over the top of it. We had considered installed a green house anyway, so why not do it right over the top of the garden bed? Next, we’re considering investing in a rotating composter to make our own compost. Oh, and did I mention we’re looking into a chicken coop?
For now, we’re well on our way to fresh veggies this summer. More to follow as I’ll be posting more pictures once we have the gardens planted. Wake up! It’s Spring! Let’s get gardening!