Friday, May 15, 2009

Bill & Judy’s Garden: It’s all about Beds

In the last two weeks, Bill & Judy took advantage of sunny days and built four beds for growing vegetables and herbs. While I love gardening, I am no carpenter or even close to being handy…I still don’t know the difference between a Philip’s screwdriver and the other one. Luckily, two handy people who know what they’re doing built the beds. Kudos to Judy for being pretty darn handy. Let’s go step-by-step and see just how they built four raised beds for their brand new garden.

Linseed oil
Sprayer or cloths
Sides: 2” X 6” X 12’ boards for the sides, as many as needed
Ends: Ends of the beds were built to be four feet across
Corner stakes: 2” X 4” X 36”
Each finished bed will measure 4 feet across, 12 feet long, and 12 inches deep.
Hardware: 2 ½” deck screws
Tools: Circular saw, level, string for positioning level, sledgehammer, regular hammer, screw gun, bar clamps, wheelbarrow, and cooler
Refreshment: A six pack of your favorite beer
The number or amount of supplies needed depends on the number of beds being built and how thirsty the builders get.

Building the Beds
1. Place beer in cooler along with plenty of ice

2. Before building, Bill and Judy treated the lumber with boiled linseed oil. You can find linseed oil at your local hardware store. Apply the linseed oil with a cloth or by spraying. Bill sprayed the boards and then relaxed with a beer while the boards sat for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, he wiped the boards with a cloth, removing excess oil.

3. Now the fun really starts. Bill & Judy cut boards to the following dimensions: 2” X 6” X 12’ with the result being double stacked beds achieving the height of 12 inches. Each bed took between 2 ½ to 3 hours to build plus beer breaks.

4. After building the beds, they took them to the garden to be positioned. Stacking two beds created the 12 inch depth. Once the position of the bed satisfied them, they cleated the two beds together. Finally, a corner stake was hammered into the ground until the top was flush with the bed.

Filling with Soil
Bill & Judy ordered ten tons of soil from a local source allowing approximately 2 tons of soil per bed. The soil mixture consisted of topsoil, mulch, and humus. They added any remaining soil to the sweet corn patch.

The topsoil was dumped near the beds to eliminate a long trek from soil mound to beds. The backbreaking work of loading up a wheelbarrow of soil and unloading into the beds took the couple around ten days to complete.

The next time Bill & Judy build a bed they’ve decided to kill the grass first with an herbicide like Round-Up. Renting a Bobcat to move ten tons of soil from pile to bed would alleviate nights dealing with back pain and get the job done quicker, saving money on beer.

I arrived just as the last bit of dirt was being added to the last bed. The pile of dirt didn’t look so intimidating, but I wasn’t leaning on a shovel while massaging my lower back with my other hand. The four beds look great. Congratulations, Bill & Judy…your garden is off to a good start. I can’t wait to photograph the rewards of your hard work later this summer. I’ll be around soon to take a few photos of your fledgling plants, so have a beer ready…oh and I prefer a frosty mug, please. One more thing… if you could provide a comfy chair and…

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