Now that it is well into autumn, I have finally put the finishing touches on the raised beds that were supposed to hold our 2010 vegetable garden.
My efforts to sheet compost and garden directly over the lawn have been less than stunning, probably because I attempted to convert such a large area and didn't build it up high enough.
(Feb 2008, April 2008)
Late this past winter I started planning for raised beds. I researched, drew up plans and figured out how much wood I'd need. And somewhere along the way, I got it into my head that I wanted the beds to be adjustable for height. That way, when I rotate crops, I can make the tomato bed, where ever it is, three sections high and leave something like the lettuce only one high. So I designed interlocking pieces, with the posts offset to fit down into the section below it, holding it in place. I'm not sure that this is actually necessary, but I like it anyway. Cause I'm a nerd like that.
Then this spring, I ordered the wood to be delivered, thinking I was so clever and had saved myself the bother of borrowing my dad's pickup and schlepping the boards home myself.
The smugness of watching the company dump all that wood at the side of my house wore off quickly, just as soon as I realized how much wood there really was in the minimum deliverable order and the fact that we needed to move all of it to the back porch to keep it out of the elements.
Then there was the second problem of less than perfect wood. I somehow imagined that the guy I spoke to on the phone would go out back and lovingly pick out the straightest, most uniform and undamaged pieces of wood he had. He did not. I feel sure he looked at my purchase as an opportunity to unload some of the more warped and ragged of his stock.
So, these are the most recent DDWDDD. Don't buy wood sight unseen. My advice is to find a friend with a pickup and trade them for beers (or the promise of fresh grown produce) and buy only as much wood as you need. If you must have it delivered, though, go and pick out your boards yourself first. Trust me on this one.
I won't lie to you. These were a lot of work. But that's only because we made so damned many of them. Really, I probably could have reduced the scope of the project by about 2/3rds and actually gotten around to growing some vegetables this year.
Not that it took us the entire summer to make these. What took us the entire summer to do was work on them for a day, get discouraged because it wasn't going as smoothly as we'd envisioned (thank you warped boards) and then wait several weeks before attempting it again. That pace tends to stretch out the time line a bit. Jeff and I finished about half of them and then just couldn't find the motivation to tackle the second half.
Eventually though, I felt the time crunch and got a move on (it was also easier once I'd decided to put them together with bolts and nuts instead of deck screws). I even sat out in the rain one afternoon, putting one together. Then Jenny and Kam spent several days at my house and we developed an assembly line process that really moved things along.
Kam, despite the obvious handicap of being 4 years old, was surprisingly helpful.
And also adorable.
After they were all put together, we dug them into the ground. Then Joey and I attached a bunch of pipes that will hopefully make it super easy to set up trellises as well as hoops for frost and bug protection. Looking at the finished beds, I realized that this might be the perfect example of me making things much harder on myself than strictly necessary, but I am so very pleased with it.
And I also realized that when it takes me this long to finally finish a project, the actual moment of completion is less "Woo hoo!" and more "How could it have possibly taken so long to finish this?"
I'm also trying not to dwell on the fact that they aren't, technically speaking, finished, as they now need to be filled with many truckloads of sheet composting material.