Raised Bed Garden Project 2016-17 — Part 7

Reader Contribution by Allan Douglas
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It’s been a while since I last checked in and that’s because this thing called LIFE happened. Technically it’s still happening (and that’s a good thing), but not so much all at once. So, I have resumed work on the mega raised bed garden box.

The first order of business was to finish up the timber walls. You may recall that I had completed the sections that ran alongside the barn and most of the part that runs out from the front of the barn (front wall). I completed this front wall first by installing timbers to step up the hill to the high corner.

Then I worked my way back from that corner along the end wall until I go to the point that I needed to resume stepping down the hill. To do that, I needed to go around to the back wall and start building the steps up the slope to meet the outside corner so I could turn that corner and finish the end wall.

Of course, I’m still lining these walls with 6 mil black plastic to keep the garden soil free of the pressure treatment, and to help keep the timbers from rotting from soil contact. It turns out that the landscape timbers being sold at Lowe’s and Home Depot are rated as “cosmetic” and are not intended for ground contact (BOGGLE!). So, it’s a really good thing I started out with this liner under and inside these walls.

On to Fencing

Once the timber walls were done, I resumed making fence panels from the square fence boxes I used in the 4 feet by 4 feet raised bed garden boxes in the former garden. Because of these, I already have all this PVC tubing and poultry mesh. These will make serviceable fencing to keep rabbits and (most) dogs out of my garden. Or as I quipped on Facebook:

Now that the wall and fence are complete, I will be able to keep those crawliflowers, rowdybeggas, brawlocci, tornups, sneak peas, swift corn, booger beans, and snapping peas inside the garden. The beats will probably continue to make noise to cover the escape attempts of the others for a while, but I imagine in time it will all settle down and become like the garden of weedin.

To make fence panels, I unwind the boxes, starting at the corner where the wire mesh starts and ends. I snip a few ties to gain some wiggle room and knock the three-way corners off.

And replace the three-ways with 90 degree corners.

(Actually, the first several panels were made by simply disconnecting the adjacent panel and leaving the three-ways in place because I didn’t realize I had three bags of corners sitting in my workshop. Oops.)

These boxes are 46 1/2 inches along each side. So, where I was able to make the steps 46 1/2 inches long, I could repeat the corner replacement, cut the mesh, and have a completed panel. But those were rare. So, I needed to straighten the opposite corner by replacing the three-ways not with elbows but with tees.

Then swing the new panel out and align the tubing with the open ends of the tee.

And “stretch” the mesh enough to get the tube ends to seat inside the tee ends. This was not as easy as it sounds. But once done, the tubing slid into the tees and all that tension was released, making a nice long panel.

Always too long. So, I needed to shorten it by finding the finished length needed, measuring out along the new panel, remember to allow for the length consumed in the elbow, and cut the tubing. Then I installed elbows and a 24-inch tube on the new end point.

I finish up by cutting the mesh with tin snips and zip-tying the mesh to the new end post.

Then I snip the zip tails and set the new panel in place. I used zip ties to hold it to neighboring panels so it wouldn’t fall over while I finished it up.

To strengthen these panels, I added 1-by-4 stanchions by screwing them to the outside of the box wall.

To hold the panels in place, I made saddle clamps of plumber’s strapping and washer headed screws. These held the panels down on top of the walls and to the stanchions.

Going this route, I can easily remove a panel if needed. Say, if I want to chip brush and blow the chips into the high corner of the garden during the winter.

Once all that was done, I’m pretty well finished up.

All that remains is to make a fancy wooden gate to hang in the front wall opening next to the barn. I’m using a fence panel there for now, so it’s not a “gotta rush on this” deal. I can instead attend to what is growing inside the garden since it’s August now and the squash, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers are coming in fast. The dry beans will be a while yet. The asparagus ferns will need to be cut soon, and there is tons of weed control to do.

One thing I did not have to worry about was hornworms. Last year’s borage (starflower) dropped lots of seed in the soil (and that got moved into my new garden) and borage came up all over the place. I let them thrive between and around my peppers and tomatoes and pulled them up where they were not needed. And I have not seen a single hornworm this year! Yay starflower!



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