size and shape
Last year we really wanted to build a garden box, but just ran out of time. Our pool project took up most of our time and money. So one of our first projects this year, was to build a darn garden box. Ann and I both love having a garden, and Ann loves cooking with produce from a home garden. If it was a perfect world, we would have a large garden in our back yard. However, the local deer and rabbit populations have other ideas in mind (just ask our Hostas, poor guys). For this, we had to keep it small, with a fence. To maximize the space, we designed it with one entrance, in a “U” shape. Each side is 3′ wide by 12′ long. The path in the center is 3′ wide. The fence is about 5′ tall.
We again went through the options for materials, similar to our contemplation for our pool project. Pressure treated was again our most economical choice, but we were concerned with how safe it was to grow a edible garden around pressure treated wood. With a little bit of research, it seems as though the CCA chemical that is most commonly used today is perfectly safe and there really isn’t anything to worry about. I wouldn’t recommend sucking on the end of a P.T. board, but growing a vegetable a few inches away will not hurt you.
The sides are made up of pressure treated deck boards, with 2×2 stakes along the centers. The fence posts are 4x4x6 pressure treated posts, screwed to each deck board. We used 1×4 boards for the trim along the top. The fence is made up of 1″x4″ welded wire mesh wrapped around and stapled to the posts.
It is important to protect the end grain of the posts. These are fully exposed to weather, and the end grain is always the most vulnerable part of a board. We used black aluminum post caps and just glued them on with some loctite brand exterior adhesive.
We had a little fun with the pathway in the interior and decided to use white marble chips and some 12″ square pavers. We have been considering using the white marble chips elsewhere around our house, so this was a good opportunity to test them out. Similar with the pavers, these are really cheap pavers and we want to see how they hold up before we use them elsewhere.
We ordered 1 yard of 50/50 topsoil-compost mix to fill the boxes. We had to bring this to the box in wheel barrows, but it didn’t take too long. Admittedly we should have ordered a bit more, but we made it work.
laying out plants
Choosing the crops you want to plant and laying them out correctly takes some preparation and planning. We also got excited and wanted to plant ASAP, so we had to make sure we knew what plants could be planted early in the season, and what plants needed to wait for warmer weather.
successful pest-free garden
So far all of our plants have been growing like crazy and minus a few bugs, rabbits and deer have been kept away by our fence. I’d say our first raised garden was a success!