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August 31, 2012

How to build a garden - Part 1

I was in need of more garden space, so instead of my usual endeavor of double-digging the beds, I decided to build a raised bed garden for a change. There were a few reasons for that decision.

First, the area that I was working with was kind of low laying, so the dug beds would have suffered from too much standing water.
Second, I wanted to build  a good size gardening space in a hurry; it needed to be ready for planting before the fall season.
And third, I wanted to experiment with the raised bed design where there is no grass in between the beds. I wanted to see what it would cost to build such an area, what kind of work would be involved, and how feasible the whole thing was going to be.

This is the area I started with:

The building wall is East facing. So, this area gets morning sun up until 2PM or so, and then gradually starts to shade. At around 5PM the whole area is shaded from the hot afternoon sun. This is actually perfect for our damaging Florida sun, as the plants will get their needed sunlight, but would not be burned by the heat of the afternoon rays.

To make it efficient and cost saving, I decided to make the garden area in multiples of 4, which is a half of a regular landscape timber. So, my garden area is going to be 12 foot wide and 23 feet long (1 foot subtracted for the entry), making it two beds, one bed 10 feet long, and the other 12 feet long.

Now, the measuring started:

After the measuring was complete, I started to take off the top layer of sod so I could prevent the weeds from creeping in to the garden beds. I decided to keep about 6 inches of a barrier around the beds, of bare ground that would be maintained bare by raking.

Certainly, it is difficult to take a precise measurement of sod on such a large area, so I gave myself some play room by taking about a foot of sod off around my measured perimeter.

While at it, I dug out a little apple tree that was growing in the area and brought it up eight inches so that its roots do not stay soggy when we have our summer rains. I have good hopes for this apple tree.

So, here it is, first step of how to build a garden. The whole process took me about ten hours of work.

How to build a garden - Part 2


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