Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Raised Veggie Bed

This has also been dubbed the "veggie coffin" by my husband, due to its narrow width and long length!! LOL

This is the first of 2, maybe 3 raised vegetable gardens we're building this year. I use the word "we" very loosely. I'm supervising and helping to hold boards, lay the level on the boards to see if it's level and square (which apparently is more important than I thought), and handing the screws to my handy man. Boy! Is he ever handy!! LOL This one, we built out of wood left here by the previous owners of our home. Most of these boards were warped and twisted, so getting them screwed in straight to make the thing level and square was quite a chore. My HM (handy man) did most of the grunt work while I stood around looking at the birds. This particular bed is 30" wide x 9.25' long x 18" high. We used 3 2"x6"x10' boards on each side and the ends. HM used some kind of scraps to make the support stakes. (I was busy during that portion of the building, so I missed how he did it and what he used.) Did you know that 2"x6" boards are actually 2"x5.25"? Yep! HM told me that. Not sure why they're called 2"x6"s if they're not actually 6" wide, but I didn't make the rules so leave it to a man (probably) to round it off.

The next one we build we'll use new UNtreated lumber, white pine in variety because it doesn't rot as fast as other woods. The boards are all nice and straight, cut not from the center of the tree, but from at least one ring from the center and out to the edge. Didn't know this was so important until I took a trip to Lowe's with the HM to buy lumber for veggie coffin #2 (and potentially #3). Apparently, the center portion of the tree will also make the board rot, so you want to avoid those pieces. Knots in the wood pieces and splitting boards should also be avoided. Lowe's was a very educational place!

First of all, you want to situate your bed in a sunny location. Most veggies need LOTS of sun. Here in Texas, we have plenty of that for more hours a day than you want. We chose a location just outside our enclosed sunroom, free of overhanging branches from the nearby oak tree, but not free from the overhanging cable, telephone, and electric lines. I don't plan on getting near those, so we should be okay.

Then, determine how big you want your beds to be. We went with this width because you can easily reach across the width of the bed from either side without straining or walking to the other side. We chose this height because it would be deep enough for the veggies that like more than 12" of dirt and it wouldn't require us to bend over so far. We decided on this length (actually, HM made this decision) because that's how long the boards were and he had to cut something off the end of one.

Next assemble your supplies: wood (UNtreated), saw, sawhorses, screwdriver with the appropriate size bit, exterior screws (they don't rust), level, tape measure, pencil, square (one of those "L" shaped things or something similar that's at a 90ยบ angle), and a small sledge hammer or mallet. This gave HM an excuse to use his power tools, something he needs to do more of. HM has this really cool DeWalt power screwdriver thing that has a built in level on it so he knows if he's drilling straight into the board or at an angle. Straight is mucho better than angled.

The level on the power screwdriver/drill:

BTW, that white cord you see hanging from the handle of the drill holds the key to lock/unlock the bit in place. The bit is the metal attachment you put in it to drill or screw in screws. They come in various sizes, kinds, and various other things. NEVER go to a home improvement store or specialty tool shop with a man looking for bits unless you take reading material along. Trust me. I spent 3 (THREE) hours in the Grizzly tool showroom with HM one day. He spent 2.99 hours looking at various bits. BORING!!!

Some tools:

That thingie to the left of the scrap piece of wood is a square, a level, and a ruler all in one. Pretty nifty little gadget! I've used it a time or two myself on my craft projects. HM shares his nice tools with me. :=)

Once you've figured out the dimensions of your bed, it's time to start the fun stuff! With all building projects the most important rule of thumb is to measure TWICE and cut ONCE. (This applies to both wood and fabric, by the way, so all you stitchers pay attention!)

Measuring...(Check out those muscles in HM's forearms *swoon*)

Cutting... (man with power tools!!)

While your HM is doing all the hard work, do something frivolous like this:

Tell him how much you appreciate all his hard work! And if you don't have a handy man or a man handy, I'm sorry. It's so much more fun when someone else gets to do all the muscle work!

On your end pieces, mark the drill holes (approximately) and then drill the holes for your screws.

Now the fun really starts!! Pick your spot and place your boards near it. Measure against any standing structure to be sure the bed is square to the structure. (I would not have done this. I would've just started building the doggone thing, but HM is a bit anal about his building projects.)

The boards are not secured yet and the stake is barely in the ground.

Once again, measure....

Once you've determined the bed is square to the structure, start pounding the stakes in and screwing it all together.

Sometimes you have to push on the stake to get the board secured tightly.

See the warping we had to deal with??? Both boards were screwed in at the bottom. We really had to work to get that warped board secured tightly.

As you go along and add boards, make sure it's level or else your water will run off to the lowest point. Not a good thing.

While HM is doing all the grunt work, observe spring springing in the great outdoors.

Also take time to check out what's sprung up in the abandoned pots sitting on your back porch.

When it's all said and done and the sun has begun setting on your workday and you've had to run inside to get a sweatshirt because it's turned chilly, step back and admire the work you've accomplished.

Then, 2 or 3 days later, after the project is completed admire your handiwork again. Be sure to take lots of pics to share on your blog, too!!

Next time, we'll discuss filling the bed.


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