Thursday, July 2, 2020

Garden Boxes

"To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body but the soul." -Alfred Austin

It's an indisputable fact of life that if you like tomatoes, you'd best grow them yourself. Store-bought tomatoes absolutely do not measure up.

Goes for other fruits and vegetables too. There are few things as satisfying to me as planting my own patio crops and harvesting them for some personal farm-to-table goodness.

Which explains why I've put up with a mess of garden pots cluttering up my patio all these years. Especially here in the Pacific Northwest, that's the price to be paid for home gardening. Because of our rarely warm days and always chilly nights, even in the throes of summer, planting directly in the earth doesn't give our food crops a fighting chance to thrive. By getting the root system up out of the cold ground and surrounding the entire plant with as much warmth as possible, our produce stands a chance of, well, producing.

But after decades devoted to a cluttery cluster of terra cotta under my kitchen window - which is the sunniest spot in my backyard - I finally came up with a better way.

Raised beds.
On wheels.
Made from the wood of my old fence.

As usual, I dreamed up the concept and my husband brought my ideas to life.
As usual, he brought a layer of practicality to the project, but that's his job.

We make an effective team.

In Phase One, we built two boxes - 36 inches long and 18 inches deep - roughly based on these plans. The wood - fence slats and posts - was free and we spent about $100 on hardware for both boxes.

The first is devoted to to my precious tomatoes,

and the second full of strawberries. No slugs allowed.

Because I have a well-established penchant for moving things around and a borderline-unhealthy preoccupation with cleaning underneath things, I added wheels to our design. Granted, now that the boxes are full of well-watered soil, they put up a bit of a fight when I move them around.

But even with a single push with my left hand - which is attached to my still-healing rotator cuff - I can slide them around. Heavy but manageable.

We held onto enough wood to make a second set of boxes that would sit in front of this pair. The wheels would allow me to slide the two rows apart when I need to get close to my crops - say, at harvest time - but also keep them pushed tight together in the corner most of the time, out of the way of other patio accouterments.

Like Gracie's bright green plastic swimming pool.

I'd love a bit more space for vegetables - beans, snap peas, zucchini - and maybe some herbs, though I did hold on to my three pots of chive, rosemary, and mint.

We shall see.

For now, I'm entirely satisfied with my new garden boxes just as they are.

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More stories about my food gardens, farm-to-table dining, and those lovely home-grown tomatoes:

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