So I picked out the garden box I wanted, built it and filled it with dirt. With a lot of the initial labor done, I needed to figure out what I want to grow. I thought the easiest thing would be to plant things I eat regularly. People who know me know that I love my carrots! (I usually have one Bugs Bunny style for lunch every day.) Carrots went on the list along with lettuce, cucumbers and watermelon. When I was looking at the rack of seed packets, those seemed pretty easy to grow. I also picked out green beans but I didn’t realize until I got home that they needed to grow on a trellis or next to a fence. Another project for another time. I didn’t want to get overwhelmed, so I stuck with those basic four.
Digging hills for gardening rows
I asked SJ to help me plant because I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing. The instructions said to build hills and plant seeds an inch or two down. I didn’t know how to get hills out of my flat soil, so I was just going to drop seeds in the dirt until SJ suggested building the dirt into mounds. The light bulb went off. That made perfect sense! And not too difficult either.
Out came the shovel to dig rows and create nice even rows. I was going to originally do four rows but went with three because the watermelons needed extra space. I took advantage of the smaller 4′ X 4′ box for the cucumbers.
By the time I was done digging and arranging rows, things were looking pretty good. SJ and I planted the seeds according to the instructions. There aren’t any pictures of him because he said his main jobs were to look good and take pictures. Thanks SJ!
After a couple of weeks of work, the seeds are in. The only thing left to do is wait for the veggies to start growing.
Finished garden with veggies planted
Planting the vegetables
Step 2 for starting the garden is pretty simple. Once you’ve built your frame, you need to add some dirt for planting. Rocket science, right?
Well, you can’t use just any old dirt, it has to be nutrient rich. In North Carolina, a lot of the soil tends to be clay-like. (Fun fact- this makes building true basements very difficult in NC homes.) So off to the local home improvement store to find dirt good enough for the garden box.
Once I got to the store, my first step was staring at the different types of soil, mulch, compost, etc. So many to choose from! I was staring at the bags of soil for so long that SJ came and asked me if I knew what I was doing. I replied confidently, “Of course!” As soon as he was out of sight, I pulled out my phone to do some research and figure out how many bags I’d need. I looked this stuff up several months back in my new project excitement, but forgot most of it in the meantime.
I settled on Miracle-Gro Flower and Vegetable Gardening Soil and Nature’s Helpers Premium Mushroom Compost. The instructions said to mix 50/50 so I got 12 and 13 bags respectively. Hauling all those bags took two trips so we had to dump the bags in the yard between trips before going back to the store. More accurately, I dumped the bags. SJ was smart enough to at least leave the ones he took out of the car and put them inside the fence. He had another errand to run so it was just me and the 25 bags of soil.
Between me, a wheelbarrow and a whole lot of lifting and cursing, I managed to get the all of the dirt in the garden boxes. I was happy that I got all of the dirt poured on my own, but my back was nowhere near as cheerful.
Take a look below at the filled garden box.
Garden box filled with soil and my blood, sweat and tears
Next up, choosing and planting seeds!
Garden area before
I decided to use raised garden beds instead of digging in the ground because it seemed easier and honestly, I’m a bit lazy. It also helped that there was a 4X4′ raised garden bed in the backyard from the previous homeowner. I didn’t want to go too big or too small for the size, so like Goldilocks I chose a size in the middle and settled on a 4X8′.
Next I did some research on local home improvement store websites to see what products were out there that I could use. I didn’t want to go too high-end in case (the very real possibility) things don’t work out. I settled on the
Frame It All variety. It seemed easy enough to put together and that it would hold up.
Using Power Tools to Build the Garden Box
Once I got home and opened the box in the backyard to start the assembly process, I realized there were a few broken pieces. One to never let an incomplete set stop me, I plunged ahead with the help of my husband.
As I thought, the raised bed was pretty easy to put together. It just took drilling a few holes, inserting some screws and snapping the pieces into place. I even got to use some power tools (and looked good doing it!)
After an hour or so, including preliminary work like leveling the ground, we had a raised bed. We also put down a screen to prevent weeds from growing.
Adding dirt was a step for another day. It was enough effort to get the thing built.
Partially Built Garden Box
Finished Garden Box