Friday, April 26, 2013

My Raised Bed Garden ~Constructing the Bed with Blocks!

I am building a raised bed garden this year.  I have built them before and had great success with growing a ton of veggies in them.  This year I thought I would try a block-walled raised bed.  In the past I have made them out of wood that eventually rots and falls apart so I thought this would be a little more permanent.   Hubby drove some rebar down in the holes to keep the walls in place and lined up if these heavy blocks were going to move!  I built it double height because I have arthritis in my knee and hip so bending all the way down to the 8 inch height is just too hard on me.  The walls are 6" deep and 16" tall so I can even sit to tend my garden when needed.

The area I am placing my raised bed in is not perfectly level and I didn't feel like digging it out any more so I just built it on a slight slant.  I don't think that is going to be a problem because it is not a severe slope. 

I lined the bottom with a thick layer of cardboard to prevent any weeds from coming up inside the raised bed.  Then I tossed some gravel on the cardboard to keep it in place for now and to give a little drainage if needed.   Next I will be filling it with a mix of top soil, compost, and manure.  

I've started my seeds indoors to give me a little longer growing period, and because I am so anxious to get started.  I am using peat pods to grow my seedlings.  I have had great success with transplanting them in the past and they are so easy to use.  I used a toothpick to work the soil loose and make tiny holes for my seeds to be planted.  I planted a nice variety of our favorite veggies including a few varieties of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, okra, and some watermelon too.  I filled two fill trays with 72 pods in each tray!

I bought this cool indoor mini greenhouse at Home Depot on sale for $25.  I have it sitting near two windows in my kitchen where it is warm but not too hot.   Now I just have to water them when needed and wait for them to sprout.

I saw this cool vertical garden online at the Vegetable Gardener where they have watermelon growing up a wire wall with the melons each hanging from fabric slings to support them so they don't hang down and break the vines.  This also keeps your melons off the wet ground where they can spoil.  And it gives you lots of extra growing space in a raised bed garden.  So I Pinned it (love Pinterest!) and plan to add at least one 'growing wall' in the raised bed for my watermelons and tomatoes to grow vertically.   I will keep you posted of my garden progress and how well the vertical gardening works for me since this is my first time trying it.

Have you started your garden yet?  Have you tried raised beds or vertical growing?  I would love to hear about how it has worked for you.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The New Chicken Run ~ Construction Begins!

I am getting so close to having chickens again.  But first we had to get a coop and build a safe chicken run.  We decided to recapture some of the dog run area that our dogs don't fully utilize anyway.   The dog run is currently a 40' x 16' area that is surrounded by a 4 foot tall chain link fence.  Totally not appropriate for chickens living in a rural area.   The new chicken run will be 20' x 16' with a 6 foot wood and wire fence surrounding it and double deer netting over the top.  Am I being overly cautious?  You bet! We recently lost one of our cats to coyotes so I am taking no chances with the chickens.  I told the hubby that we need this to be like a chicken fort knox!

Today we broke ground on the chicken run!  Here is our first post hole.

 Yes that is a jack-hammer that we used to dig the holes.  Our ground is very hard and since the hubby is a building contractor he has heavy-duty tools.  It made the digging really rock was going to stop this thing.

After the holes were dug our first post went up.

Then our first panel, then a second, and one wall was complete.

Here is another view showing that we used 1/2" hardware cloth on the lower 3 feet and rabbit wire on the upper 3 feet of the fence/wall.

Tomorrow we will be taking down the chainlink and installing another wall, then placing the coop inside the run before we do the last wall.  Here is the coop, in two parts, just waiting to be placed in the chicken yard.

It is 6' x 6' and about 10 feet tall when the roof is on.  Although the red and white is cute, I want my chicken yard to be tranquil and this red is not working for me.  I have picked up some cute 'Oops paint' from home depot that I will be using to totally transform this barn-style coop into an oasis of tranquility.

Follow along to see our progress over the coming days.  My teenaged chicks will be coming home as soon as the run is complete.  I am so excited!!!