Box Vegetable Garden: The Early Stages

Part of my recent absence from blog-ville has been due to our intensified gardening efforts. Paul and I built boxes for raised gardens last fall. And now we're putting things together for this growing season.
 
We're new at this. Box gardening, I mean. But we're researching a ton and approaching things carefully and intentionally. I'll tell you what we've done so far and keep you up-to-date on our process (including fails and successes) if you're interested in doing something similar.

 
FYI: We are in LOVE with this gardening method. It's so awesome and crisp and awesome and organized and did I say awesome.
 
 
So. Here's the north side of our house, where our box garden layout resides. Last fall, we built our two garden boxes to be 5' x 18' each. When we redid our sprinkler system last fall, we had the guys install a drip line for the garden.
 
After reading this fantastic square foot gardening book (All New Square Foot Gardening), we realized our boxes were too big, because we wouldn't be able to easily access stuff growing in the middle. So my husband had the genius idea of separating out partial "walkways" in the boxes.
 
 
What we now have in each original box are three square(ish) growing boxes (the big sections you see above), two 1'x2' boxes (the small parts on the left side of each), and two 4'x2' walkways (next to the small parts). Each box is 10" high, I think. Or maybe 12". We weather-proofed the outer wood last fall with something like this but were too impatient to waterproof the walkway edge boards, so I guess time will tell if that's a regrettable move.

We then added the soil, a combination of 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 compost varieties. No pics of the process, sorry, but it's not hard to figure out. Just dumped equal amounts onto a big old tarp, shook it up P.E.-parachute-style, and dumped it into the boxes. For the record, my husband is Rake-Man Extraordinaire. 11 years married, and I had no idea he possessed this super power.

Next step: trellises.
 
 
Using 1/2" electrical conduit, we constructed trellis frames for the north sides of both boxes. They are removable but secured into the ground by rebar. We bought nylon trellis netting at the hardware store (also available at garden centers) and tied it securely to the conduit frames. These will be for our climbing plants (e.g., peas, beans, tomatoes, etc.).
 
Paul built two 8'x8" boxes (long and skinny) for climbing flowers to create a "wall" between the yard and the garden. We added a trellis for these as well.
 
 
And what backyard is complete without a big blue ball by the fence?
 
We also put an archway, inherited from Paul's parents, in the corner so that the garden's entrance/exit would be intuitive and, hopefully, beautiful (once we get our climbers growing). Here's what it looks like from the backyard:
 
 
Pea gravel all around the boxes has been awesome, so you don't get muddy and can easily maneuver a wheelbarrow around all sides.
 
 
Planting is continuing to be a whole-family affair, which is fun.  The kids have all been super helpful, in their own way...
 
...from 8-year-old Carson,
 
 
...to 7-year-old Layla,
 
 
...to 4-year-old Addie (her swinging IS helpful, actually),

...to 1-year-old Violet, the cutest supervisor of all time. Those big baby blues don't miss a beat.
 
 
We planted some bare root strawberries (four per square foot) and constructed a simple yet *hopefully* effective bird keepaway cage out of PVC pipe and plastic bird netting for this section. It's removable (just lift up the cage) and secured into the ground with rebar.
 
 
We planted half Hecker and half All-Star varieties, I believe.
 
 
Grow, you bundles of potential deliciousness. GROW.
 
 
A large section is devoted to onions (16 per square foot). We grew some from seeds but then realized it's way faster and easier to get onion starts at the local garden store. So we supplemented with a million of those babies.
 
 
I'll say here that we marked out each square foot with nylon string, triple-strung for each line and tied onto metal 1/2" brackets screwed onto the box garden walls. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but it's been great for us - makes planning and planting (and, we anticipate, harvesting) so much easier. Plus, don't you think it just looks cool?
 
Red candy onions. Never tried 'em, but...c'mon. CANDY onions? I'm in.
 
 
So far, we've only been able to plant our strawberries, peas, cabbage & leafy greens, and onions outside. The rest of the stuff is in the greenhouse, patiently awaiting mother nature to officially go on spring break.
 
 
There you have it. Box gardening at the Smarts' house. Next up for the backyard: building a shed and a clubhouse for the kids. This should be interesting...
 
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7 comments:

  1. Brit, that looks awesome. Seriously. Great work, you guys...

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  2. Awesome! That is no small project - very impressive!

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  3. Awesome! I am jealous of your great garden space!!!

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  4. Great post and great tips!!! Come on over and share this with The CSI Project this week. The challenge is Gardens and Flowers. Any flowers, created or planted. Link up will continue through Friday. Come on over!
    http://www.thecsiproject.com

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  5. I'm trying a small garden this year too. I love seeing what other people are doing because I haven't a clue about gardening! We were going to try containers but now I'm thinking we should build raised beds. And in the next couple weeks. Oh dear! Your garden looks like it will be lovely.

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  6. Wow, that is so awesome you guys. I can't wait to see it in person.

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  7. Gardening enhances our quality of life in numerous ways: providing fresh food, exercise and health benefits, opportunities for multi-generational and life-long learning, creating pleasing landscapes and improved environment, and bringing people together click here.

    ReplyDelete

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