Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Garden Boxes

We've intended to start a garden for a few years now, but when our girls received pumpkin seeds and a gardening starter kit for their birthdays, we were committed to do something right away!

I was introduced to the concept of Square Foot Gardening by one of our neighbors (the same friend who gave our daughters the pumpkin seed kit).  They have a beautiful garden that has been on the cover of some local gardening publications and was way beyond the reach of what I had the space, money, or time to accomplish.  But it did give me some inspiration!

There are several options for building boxes - I decided to use pressure treated lumber available at the local branch of the home improvement store.  I only had a 6' wide space so I made my boxes 2' wide to allow room to access them from each side.

I used 2 x 8 lumber and 4x4 posts to brace the corners.  I also cut two of these 4x4 posts longer (about 16" long) on opposite corners and buried them in the ground to stabilize the box and eliminate movement of the box when it was bumped or jarred.

Before placing the soil, I fed the irrigation line into the box and I lined each box with weed barrier fabric.  The soil is the "Mel's Mix" made from 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 compost (They recommend 5 kinds of manure but I didn't have that much on hand-- I used dairy farm cow manure donated by a kind neighbor, mixed with chicken manure from another neighbor)

 Pressure reduction to 25 psi
 1/2" flexible irrigation tubing run above ground from the hose bib to each bed using T's and couplers

 Adding a timer makes life much better.  Only about $30

 I tried mixing the soil components in the street, and I also tried just mixing it in the box.  It seemed to work fine in the box and less of a mess.  You can see here the 1/2" pipe just "stubbed out" while the soil is prepared.
 I debated which style of irrigation to use, but settled on drip to each plant.  It gives great control over water flow for each plant, but is more expensive and time-consuming to set up than a pop-spray head.  For what it's worth it conserves water and sends the water where it needs to go.  You don't lose nearly as much water to evaporation.  It also keeps the leaves dry so the likelihood of disease to the plants goes down.
 This is a 2gph flag punched into the 1/2" tubing.  Home improvement stores carried 1, 2, and 4 gph flags.  The problem with the 1gph flag was that the drip literally just dribbled straight down.  The 2gph at least had enough pressure to shoot forward an inch or so.

 The in-line irrigation drip adapters on the 1/4" tubing work great!  It is flexible and can weave wherever you need  and the drip goes exactly where you want it to.

A couple of the pumpkin plants that the girls started inside then transplanted to the garden.

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