Everyone has their own Best Husband Ever, but mine really is The Best. Aside from putting up with my everyday nonsense, he indulges me when I get an idea stuck in my head that inevitably involves a lot of heavy labor on his part. And he doesn’t even roll his eyes when I insist it won’t take long to complete.
My latest project was a new garden bed. I have a fenced-in garden in the backyard, complete with its own drip irrigation system. I also have a small raised garden bed, one that’s maybe 10 inches high. It grows the best strawberries, herbs, and peppers and manages to stay pretty weed-free. But the strawberries have pretty much taken over and I wanted another one with more room for things like lettuce, kale, carrots, and beets. I also wanted it to be higher, so I wouldn’t have to kneel on the ground or put up annoying fences to keep the dogs out.
Once we moved the chickens to their new enclosure, we tore down most of the posts that made up the grape arbor and had a nice, clear area just waiting for something new. I mapped out a few different garden bed layouts and somehow settled on a u-shaped version that was a little trickier than just building two narrow beds. But that “u” part gives me four extra square feet to plant!
I also inadvertently made it “easy” by sketching out lengths that matched the lengths of the boards we found at Home Depot. The beds are 10 feet long and 2 feet wide and the whole thing is about 28 inches tall (three 10-inch boards stacked on top of each other). The boards come in 10-foot and 8-foot lengths; we had to trim some 8-footers to make the 6-foot part on the end, but that also gave us the 2-foot sections we needed to connect everything. I’d draw you a diagram, but that seems too complicated…
We also bought, like, six brick-things of garden soil which was completely underestimating the volume of these beds.
We discovered we were going to need a lot more dirt after we filled one side of the garden bed and it was looking pretty empty. Then Travis had the brilliant idea to fill the bottom with straw bales (which fit perfectly in a 2-foot gap!) and then shovel the dirt/soil on top of those. Eventually, the straw will break down and decompose and we can slowly add more soil as we need to. That picture above is after we, and I do mean “we” even if I only managed to drag one bale across the yard, put the straw bales in the left side, shoveled dirt from the right side over to the left side and then started making room to put straw bales on the right.
There’s the straw bale at the bottom, with a pile of soil on top. We left the bales banded in the hopes that they’ll decompose and settle down slower.
There’s a dog and a bucket, for scale. I suppose.
We bought six straw bales (about $10 each) and ended up with about half a bale left over. I planted garlic at the far end of the garden bed and used some of the straw as mulch, which seems to be working pretty well aside from the fact that I think hay is starting to sprout through. The rest of the straw went into the regular garden where it will also act as mulch until I’m ready to plant it in late spring.
This whole project took most of a weekend and more than a few trips to Home Depot to bring lumber and soil home in batches. It also took quite a few trips to get the straw bales home. If you’re curious, a Prius can hold a maximum of two straw bales in the back with the seats folded down. More than one, but not quite three. The guys at the feed store were impressed that it fit two. We also found a feed store in Poway, which is nice to know since we usually go to Hawthorne Country Store in Escondido.
I’m very thankful to my sweet husband who abandoned his own weekend to-do list in order to build and fill the garden bed I decided I “needed” just days before. If you were to look around our home, I think you’d find evidence that many of my whims are indulged and I am indeed one lucky girl.