Thursday, May 13, 2010

Growing Our Green Thumbs

I have one house plant that a good friend gave us when we moved into our tiny place almost two years ago. It's still alive--a fact I'm proud of! Oh, yes, and two cacti on the front porch, but those are so hard to kill that they don't count. I had a jade plant, but killed it. Root rot. Bummer. I basically watered it to death. So I'm 1:1 on plants.

Maybe vegetables will be better suited to my watering habits. I sure hope so, because yesterday we built a square foot garden! Imagine me jumping around with excitement. That's how thrilled I am about this! This was something I really wanted to do last spring/summer, but with everything else that we were dealing with, it just didn't happen. So, I am extremely glad that we made time for it this year.

I followed frugal dad's post to gain some instruction on how to do this. He's got a lot of great information over there, so check it out if you're interested in doing something like this yourself. It was extremely simple and easy.

We don't own a table saw. If you don't either, don't let that stop you from accomplishing your gardening dreams. Our local lumber supply store cut the wood we needed down to size--for free! We created a 4' x 3' raised bed using untreated douglas fir and plywood.

We started with one 2" x 10" x 14' untreated board of douglas fir. It's important to use untreated wood because you don't want any toxins seeping into your soil. We had it cut down into four pieces to create a 4' x 3' box. BJ then put the corners together using 3" wood screws (2 for each corner).

We used a 4' x 4' square sheet of 1/2 in. untreated plywood for the bottom. We had it cut down to fit our 4' x 3' box. We fastened that to the bottom of our box using 2" wood screws around the edge (12 total). Then we drilled some drainage holes in the plywood using the 1/8 drill bit (20 evenly spaced holes).

We also had one 2" x 4" x 8' piece of douglas fir cut in half which we placed under the bed to raise it off the ground. We did not screw this to the bottom because we knew the box would be pretty heavy once the soil was in and it probably wouldn't move. We made sure the 2 x 4's didn't block any of our drainage holes.

Then we filled up our raised bed with soil. We really had no idea what to use, so we went down to our local hardware store and basically told a few of the gardening pros to just tell us what to buy. They recommended two brands: Happy Frog and Fox Farm Ocean Forest. Both are organic and full of good stuff for plants, but Ocean Forest is a little better. So, we filled the bottom layer with one bag of Happy Frog followed by two bags of Fox Farm Ocean Forest and then a top layer of special plant mix also from Fox Farm. The really good stuff in the top layers will drain down and mix in with the slightly cheaper soil from Happy Frog--or so we were told by the ladies at Ace Hardware. We really don't know anything about gardening, but we're learning!

Then we marked off our little square foot plots using small nails and twine.

Then we planted our vegetables. As you can see, we bought the plants this year. Next year, we'd like to try growing everything from seeds, but this is just fine for now. If the roots were really bound up, we gently broke them up a bit and then put them in the bed. Each square foot plot hosts a different veggie/herb/fruit. I went with two types of tomatoes, strawberries, zucchini (which I planted on an end so that it will spill over the side as it grows), cilantro, oregano, basil, parsley, chives, and lettuce. I still have two plots to fill--one for rosemary, which I have to find elsewhere and something else. I'm just not sure what yet. We watered everything, stepped back from our work and called it good.

Here's the real reason I wanted to grow some tomatoes. I love the way they look once they've grown all full and leafy on one of these wire cages. Once it gets about a foot tall, we're supposed to pop this sucker into the bed and "help" the tomato grow up and around it. Mmmmm...can't wait to eat those!

As I said before, this was extremely easy! So if you're at all thinking about doing something like this, GO FOR IT! If we can do it, then I know you can. One of the reasons we chose to create a raised bed instead of just digging directly into the ground is that we live in a rental. We didn't want to do anything too permanent, and when we move, we can just take our little box with us.

When it was all said and done this project ran us just under $100 (Plants $15 / Soil $38 / Lumber & Supplies $45). For us, it was worth it. Now we just have to try not to kill anything! I'll keep you posted!


jeannine said...

I just learned last year that tomatoes like it hot and dry. I always over watered mine. I water everything else in my garden and let that water kind of seep over to them. Your bed looks great!

Michele said...

impressed...planted a garden one year @ my grandparents...they always had such an amazing garden & I loved tromping thru the rows as a child...we grew potatoes, sugar snap peas, squash, beans & I don't recall what else...i do know that we enjoyed eating it...ur's looks great...look forward to enjoying the fruits of ur labor this summer

Jenn Stockman said...

great job green thumbs!!

Kate Stockman said...

Thanks for the encouragement and advice about the tomatoes! I definitely would have over watered them given my history! :)

The Fredricksons: Brian, Britney, Salty, and Jerry said...

I highly recommend planting rosemary in a pot. It is not a seasonal plant like your other ones, and it gros quite large. It will remain year long. It also doesn't require as mush sun or water as your other plants. Seriously though, it is a bush, not a small plant. Go with the pot, not the veggie bed.

Kate Stockman said...

Thanks for the tip about Rosemary! I'm going to try one more place tomorrow & if I don't find it, I may start it from seeds in a container like you suggested.

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