Saturday, April 18, 2009

Building Raised Beds

Our new next door neighbors Kevin and Alexa have been really excited this spring about building raised bed gardens in our backyard. Alexa, in particular, had been busy for months measuring out plots, reading about how to plant certai
n vegetables and the proper growing arrangements for them in the gardens. She had quite the plans drawn up for the project. With Kevin at the coast with his visiting mom in during the day the girls recruited me and my truck for the job. Our good friend Doug DeGrosse (our friend with the Black Butte Ranch House) brought over a rototiller for us to churn up the area in our backyard where a previous in-ground garden looked to have been. I was out when he dropped it off but he showed the girls how to operate it. Little did I know but the girls quickly forgot everything he told them about the speed control for the tool! When I turned it on it seemed to be at full power and it took all my strength to hold
on to it as it churned up the thick clay that is common in the Willamette Valley. The girls had measured out the 5‘x11’ plots with sticks and I did my best to stay within the boundaries with the bucking machine. It didn’t take long to churn up the area of the three plots.

After dropping the rototiller off at Doug’s we headed over to “The Bark Place”, a business on the way to Philomath to check out the different soils available
for our garden. We picked out one at about 25$ a square yard and I told the guy he could put 75$ worth in my truck for us to take. Laughing, he said I would only fit one. He was right! When the backhoe came and dumped the first load into the back of my truck it overflowed off the sides and piled up almost to the height of my cab dropping my truck about 6” on the suspension!
We quickly realized that we needed a wheelbarrow to move the soil from the truck to the backyard so we picked up a cheap one at Bymart where Alexa had to buy a 5$ membership with me as the spouse so Emily and I could use the other card for our membership.

After dropping off the first load of dirt at our place we decided we needed to buy wood for the raised bed to keep all the dirt together. We ended up going to Home Depot and spending about another $100 on wood that we dug trenches for
and dropped into the clayey ground. We nailed the corners together with wooden blocks to make it all very secure. The rest of the afternoon was spent getting two more truck loads of dirt with my truck and one with Kevin’s when he returned home with his mom who was amazed at what we were creating. Just before dark we had built all three beds and buried within them about 8-10” of rich compost infused soil.

The next morning we got up and made one more trip back to The Bark Place to pick up red wood chips to surround our plots and make them look professional. We spent the rest of the beautiful afternoon gardening and pruning flowers out front and in the back. We realized that we really do have an amazing yard with tons of flowers that were once hidden behind weeds as well as an apple and pear tree in the backyard and Himalayan Blackberry bushes in the backyard.

That evening we all invited friends to come over and Kristen, Peter, Jason and Hartz stopped by with their dogs for some BBQ action. Everyone really seemed to be impressed by the work we had put in over the two days. Although Emily and I didn’t go anywhere special for the weekend I think we both felt a great feeling of accomplishment when we looked out our window at the beautiful raised beds we had just built.