I am sure you have dreamt of straight from the vine juicy red tomatoes, fresh picked herbs for your made from scratch pizza, strawberries within view from your back window, and all the other delicious perks of having your very own garden. With Natalie’s posts on whole and natural eating, and especially snippets from Paltrow’s It’s All Good, fresh produce is a big deal around here (and quite honestly, essential for healthy living). But maybe you’ve hesitated to plant a garden because you live in the city with more concrete than soil to contend with, or you feel like your thumb is no hue of green in the slightest, or you think about planting when the season has passed, or you have no idea where to even begin.
Let me tell you a little secret: Until this season, I have never had a vegetable garden. I waiver in my ability to care for plants. I tend to over water. And I am still learning how to navigate through soil (and what exactly are annuals?) But, perhaps just like you, deep down in the very core of who I am there is this voice that wants to be a self-proclaimed gardner. And perhaps with just a bit of direction, or just a bit of encouragement, you can be on your way to your own little farm, starting with a few veggies and herbs. A garden to call your own.
The very fist step in your garden ventures, is to create a home for your plants to be nourished and to grow. There are so many ways you can go with planters, pots, and garden beds—but to keep it simple, and do it yourself minded, the steps below can help you be well on your way to both city and country gardening. Let’s build a raised garden bed, from scratch!
You will need: one 4′ x 4′ plywood sheet, eight 2” x 6” wooden boards cut to 46.5”, four scrap blocks for support, a scrap 2” x 4” cut just short of 4 feet, a handful of 2” screws of nails, 1” screws, 3/8” drill bit, and a drill (or hammer if you decide to only use nails). Any type of wood works, I used Doug Fir!
Building the Bottom Base
Using a 4′ x 4′ plywood base as the bottom of the garden bed, cut 2” x 6” boards to 46.5” long. There will be eight 2” x 6” boards cut to length for the walls of the garden bed. Make sure you have your plywood sheet on a flat surface while you build. Line your plywood base with four of the wood boards. They are going to fit like a puzzle. The photographs depict this better than I could write :) Use a square to make sure each board creates a 90 degree angle with its neighboring board. Nail or screw (2”) the ends of the boards, where they meet their neighboring perpendicular board, together. Take a scrap block and fit it snuggly in the corner, so that it is flush against the two wooden boards. Nail or screw the boards into this block. Do this for each corner until the four wooden boards are secured together and secured into the scrap blocks.
Building the Top Level
Next, you are going to repeat what you did with the bottom base for the top level. To make a more secure bed, stagger the placement of the wooden boards on the second level. Again, see the photographs and sketch show how the boards fit together, somewhat interlocking. Take your 2” x 4” scrap board and screw/nail it directly in the center of your garden bed, as if it were creating a line down the middle and making two halves. This board will add extra support if you ever need to move your garden, and keep the bottom from collapsing.
There needs to be a way for excess water to drain out of your bed, should it be over watered. Stand your garden bed on its side and using the drill and 3/8” drill bit, drill holes in the plywood base. Now your garden bed is ready for soil and planting!
Planning, Prepping, & Planting
For an all organic garden, be sure to purchase organic soil. If you are using soil that is already in the earth, taking it from your yard or someone else’s, make sure this soil is lead free. If purchasing soil from a local nursery or hardware store, make sure it is organic, both the topsoil and compost mixes that you buy. Soak your soil and allow it to absorb and dry a bit before planting. Plan out your garden for the climate you live in, making sure the needs of the crop will be met! You can start with seeds or even veggies and plants that have been cared for and grown a bit at a nursery. Most nurseries will label if the plant has been left to grow organically or not.
What are your thoughts on growing your own vegetables and urban farming? Any city dwellers milking goats, harvesting crop, and raising chickens out there?
Images provided by Lauren.