"Getting rid of everything that doesn’t matter allows you to remember who you are. Simplicity doesn’t change who you are, it brings you back to who you are."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Raising The Roof...er...Beds

The first order of business was to head to the big box store for lumber, angle joints and chicken wire (I guess voles can be an issue here in NC). 

I had a coupon that if we bought $250 of stuff then they'd take $25 off. We calculated carefully to buy just enough to go over the required amount.  After everything was said and done, the $25 pretty much paid for the taxes on the purchase. 

We are very fortunate to have a bulk landscaping business down the road from where we live.  Over the years we've been able to save money by getting the truck filled with loose mulch instead of buying the bagged stuff.  I've never bought dirt from them before, so after we unloaded the lumber we stopped by for a quick load of dirt. 

Ginny decided that going in the house not on her agenda so she hopped in the truck and came with us.  Funny girl!

They were busy!  I checked out their offerings while I waited to place my order.  Besides various mulches, (they even have that plastic playground stuff) they also offered topsoil, sand, compost and a "combination" blend of topsoil and compost.

Since we "dug-out" the beds last year, (turning them into little clay swimming pools), the first thing we needed to do was to "back fill" them with topsoil, making them level with the ground again. 

The compost they offer is a blend of mostly yard waste.  He did say there was "some" cow manure, and food stuff in there too.  (Hmmm,  I'll have to think about that.)

I bought 2 yards of topsoil.  The truck tires could only take the weight of 1 yard at a time so we quickly unloaded one load and then SM ran back for the second.  (They closed at noon so we had to hustle.)

When SM got back, we left the second load in the truck and started to "shuffle" the Mels Mix around.  Mels Mix is a blend of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 compost (cow, chicken, mushroom.)  You buy the ingredients and mix it together.  I call it black gold.  The stuff ain't cheap, let me tell you. I wasn't going to waste it by leaving it in the dugouts.

We managed to get 1 bed built...

And the dirt rearranged...

By that time we were spent. Quittin time!  

Gosh, it feels good to get those muscle working again! 


  1. How nice to be outside working again. It's hard not to "over-do" after months of sitting around. Whatcha planting first?

  2. We have a ton of voles here. I have never found them to be a problem in the raised beds though. They are quite a problem every where else.

    I know what you mean about being leary with regard to the compost. We can pick up free compost from our city yard waste site that they make. There is no way I would put that in my garden beds...who knows what's in it. We do have a place where I buy the most wonderful blended soil from. I use it when I start new beds....that soil can be trusted. I also have a dear old friend that has a large horse farm. There, I can get all the manure compost I want for free!!

  3. Love Mel's mix! It's all I use!
    Glad you had some gorgeous weather to be able to work outside. Oh, it's gonna be good!

  4. Looking good! I think any plant would be glad to call it home.

  5. Wow, looks great! All that hard work will really pay off this summer. I still haven't been able to talk DH into raised beds, though we're getting closer to plain (unraised) permanent beds. I think it would make gardening so much easier down the road.

  6. Tami -- Congrats on getting another raised bed up and running. A word of notice for you. When Joseph and I made raised beds 2 years ago in a previous rental house, we had problems with the sheer weight of the soil and compost pushing against the wood. Several of our boxes cracked on the corners. While it didn't require immediate fixing, if we were to use them a second year, we would have had to reinforce them at a minimum, perhaps start over worst case. You might consider two things.

    1 - Use L brackets on the corners to add stability and strength. The additional brackets will help keep the wood from cracking and keep your boxes square.

    2 - Consider adding one cross support. It doesn't have to be very tall, nor at the top of your gardening soil, but a cross beam holding the long sides together (about midway down) would go a long way to keeping the wood from bowing out in the middle.

    We're putting in one large raised bed made of cinder blocks this year. I'm still hunting for good soil and compost to add to it though -- our local city has it for sale but it's the composted tree limbs and cardboard and stuff that they pick up with the recycle truck. I can't say that I trust it either. I can buy some down the road, but man $35 / cubic yard seems high, especially when I need a total of 4 yards to fill my bed. I'm watching craigslist, but my sources from the past have raised their prices too, I'm guessing from increased demand.

    Good luck!

    City Roots, Country Life

  7. I'm sitting here on my sofa wrapped up in my fuzzy blankie totally jealous! I'm freaking freezing to death and you're building raised beds! Damn! My daughter called me from Chapel Hill to say she was making ice cream for the kids...and that they were in shorts and flip flops...lucky Tar Heels!

  8. Sue - I'm doing peas (Shelling and Snow) and carrots. I'll wait a few weeks before putting in the lettuces.

    Robin - Thanks for your input on the voles. We stopped the chicken wire after the first bed. Our ground is "concrete". I'd be shocked if anything can tunnel in it. Ditto on the compost. Next fall I'll be buying "fresh" and let it over winter. This year...$$bagged$$ I'm afraid.

    Daisy - Yep. Stole the nice weather from Lynda. (evil grin)

    Jane - I'm hoping! It's a start at least.

    Leigh - I'm pleased with how high they are. Considering I'm not getting any younger, I'm thinking this could work out well! I'm just amazed that you have tillable earth. I think a roto-tiller would just spin it's blades on this stuff we have. I do have a patch (for corn) that we'll have to "double dig". If we can!

    Emma - Great advise! We bought 12x12's and they're 2 inches thick. We did the L brackets in the corners upper and lower and 3" screws through the ends. We DID NOT put a cross member in. Hmmmm. (Thinking...)

    We also thought about using Lynda's trick with the masonry blocks but I really felt that all that concrete would turn my beds into an Easy Bake Oven during the summer. Good for milder climates, but I think too hot for around here. I may be wrong though...

    Now Lynda...Not that long ago you were teasing us with flip flops yourself, Missy! And all that yummy broccoli. And Clint stopped by!!!!

    I think you've had it too good for too long. It's about time for Clint to rattle up my driveway. I'm not necessarily looking for love but I sure could use a foot rub! (grin)

  9. Was it just me who couldn't see the pictures? I really want to see them because the blog is really interesting!