Each spring I head outside with a notion to expand the garden. Unlike a bear that comes out of hibernation on the lean side; I tend to emerge from winter’s grip sporting a bit of a spare tire. A one eyed look in the mirror is a good motivator to get outside & start working some of it off.
I favor raised bed boxes & deep soil. A friend of ours donated a bunch of used recycled plastic decking material that I’ve been tripping over for the past year. We live on a south-facing hillside that requires terraced beds, so I’m always looking for better ways to take advantage of the drop in elevation. I couldn’t help but to notice the amount of wasted space in our gardening area, so this year the projects will be centered around converting that space into something more productive…like homegrown veggies.
A large percentage of the gardening area is covered with weed blocking cloth and decorative crushed red rock. Every time it rains the rock washes down the hill exposing the cloth. When it dries out I take the wheelbarrow & hand shovel it back up the hill. It’s a vicious cycle & never ending. Time for a change, so when the first sign of spring showed up this year, I rolled that spare tire I was sporting into the garden & started building raised bed garden boxes. Water diversion is something that needs to be addressed, but will have to wait until all the new boxes are in place.
I decided to build a special box into one of the steeper portions of the hillside perfect for growing tomatoes. Usually I have some sort of game plan, but not this time. I knew I wanted a box big enough to grow three large tomato plants, so I staked out an area 30″ wide & 10′ long using twine to outline the desired area.
First I skimmed off the rock material and then I used a knife to cut the cloth to remove it all in one piece leaving a nice strip of packed clay or something similar.
Usually I build a frame first then dig it in until its level. Recycled plastic 2×6’s are heavy, so this box needs to be built in place. I started by pounding some stakes into the high side of the hill & worked my way around adjusting the length of the stakes as needed to make the box level as I went.
I cut the sections of plank long enough to split the width of the stakes and used deck screws to mount them to the stakes after they were level. One row at a time the box begins to take shape.
Now all that’s needed is some soil worthy of growing my favorite heirloom tomato variety. A project for another day.
For more detail on building these raised bed boxes please watch the video.
Written By Dean Andres, June 2015