Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why I am not a carpenter

Trent and I decided to build a vegetable garden. We bought books (because that's always the first step in new undertakings for Trent). We bought some seeds. We plotted and planned and studied seed catalogs. We shoveled a whole bunch of gravel out of the center of our courtyard. Then nothing happened for many weeks. I finally coerced Trent into going on a lumber expedition with me Saturday night. We learned that 10' boards do not fit into a Focus ZX3 particularly well, but if you drive slowly and carefully, it's doable.

Monday I went to Sky Nursery in pursuit of seed potatoes. I bought some plants while I was there (collards, broccoli, kale, and chinese cabbage). Having actual plants means that the raised bed needs to get built sooner rather than later. This is a crazy busy week for Trent, so I bravely hammered it together Monday afternoon.

It's lacking a certain quality of squareness that is ordinarily desirable in construction. However, it does possess a quality of doneness that I find even more desirable.

(If anyone is interested in the construction details: 2"x12"x10' and 2"x12"x4' held together with strong tie corner brackets and nails.)

Today I removed more gravel from the future raised bed and started working on the dirt. In the picture, the fluffy part is the bit I've done, and the smooth part is still covered in landscape cloth (it was under the rocks). I also worked on the future potato patch. It was a very pathetic flower bed, so I've ripped out most the plants growing there (the rest are scheduled for execution tomorrow, except for the rhododendron) and worked up nice fluffy soil.

For my gardening friends, here are the veggie specifics:
Potatoes: Satina, Calred, and yukon gold.
Kale: Lacinato
Collards: Vates
Broccoli: Packman
Chinese cabbage: China Express.

I can't remember the assorted seeds I've piled up. I know I've got Cascadia snap peas, but the rest is a blur. Some kind of spinach, some kind of pac choi (ching-chiang, I think), and a lettuce mix.

Our current issue is topsoil. If I'm reading the Pacific Topsoil price list correctly, it's going to cost around $140 to get topsoil delivered in a suitable quantity (1.5 cubic yards). That seems like a lot, but we certainly don't own a truck to go fetch it ourselves. Swanson's gave me the number for Viking Topsoil, which seems like it might be a smaller outfit, so maybe they're more reasonable for the relatively small quantity I need (calling them is on my "to-do when time permits" list). Alternatively, I suppose I could buy 40 cubic feet of topsoil in bags and haul it in the Focus.

There has been some knitting and sewing going on too, but I'm not finishing anything.



Anonymous Ryan said...

Wince. Not to be a spoilsport but will you have enough sun for your plants? I know your condo is really shaded.

(Putting together my vegetable bed soon, too, so I'll be keeping a close eye on your progress!)

9:03 AM  
Blogger Garth said...

More substantive comments to follow (have to get to work), but you do realize that you can rent a truck, right? For, like, $20/day from lowes/home depot/u-haul/other corporate despots.

And, fwiw, Specialty Soils were recommended at the greenhouse session at the farm conference Lauren and I attend.

10:24 AM  
Blogger lauren said...

For reference: What to grow in the shady bits.

Fill dirt is an issue in the city, it's true. You could also see if anyone else nearby needs some too, and share a delivery? But yeah, like Garth says, see about renting a truck.

And check your math again. Garth ordered us 15 cubic feet of topsoil and it was about 3x what we needed.

Dunno how big your veggie starts are, but you might want to give them some extra warmth when you plant them out -- either cloches (2-liter bottles or large plastic liquor bottles or milk jugs, with bottoms cut off) or plastic hoophouses like we've got, or what's called floating row cover, which is a fine fiberglass fabric.

Packman broccoli was pretty successful for us last year. Lacinato kale is my favorite! and does really well here. You could also try leeks!

YAY for garden!

9:18 PM  
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