Spring is almost upon us, so we started planting our vegetable garden last weekend. The boys and I had a lot of fun with the garden last year, and we are looking forward to an even more productive season this year given the benefit of a year’s experience.
I started by splitting our large planter box into two ‘single row boxes. Last year, I built a 6′ x 8’ planter box from cedar 2 x 6’s, and it was really difficult to reach anything in the middle of the box once things started to grow. So I cut last year’s box in half and added 2 new walls to make two new smaller boxes.
After the carpentry was completed, the next step was soil prep. This was easy last year. I mixed some top soil, potting soil, and Black Kow compost and poured it into the box. Coincidentally, Black Cow is a great Steely Dan song from the under-appreciated Aja album.
This year proved to be considerably more challenging, as I opted to reuse last year’s soil with the addition of some new components. I found myself wishing for a ‘Roto-Tiller’ as I tore at the packed earth with a sort of twisted mini-pitchfork from Ace Hardware. Once it was sufficiently broken up, I mixed in the compost we have been producing for A YEAR, along with a little fresh potting soil, a dusting of bone meal, and about a pound of leftover fertilizer from last year’s garden. I was very proud of our compost. We ended up with about 6 bags worth, and I’m excited to see how the garden turns out with our compost as a constituent part.
We (Alex was very helpful with this project) then added a permeable weed barrier and stapled it into place.
We cut holes in the barrier and placed our plants. We planted a row of tomatoes- yellow, cherry, and large red, and a row of zucchini and squash. We placed herbs at the corners of the boxes, including sage (resurrected from last year), basil, rosemary, and oregano. I plan to add tarragon and possibly cilantro when I can find them.
I went full-size with this picture for future comparisons- I’ll try to post new pics regularly to illustrate progress. Note the plant tags stapled to the planter boxes- my idea! Carryover herbs from last year went in containers- thyme and parsley which are thriving, and mint which is alive, but barely.
One note about the planter boxes: I’m not sure why I chose cedar, but I was surprised at the extent to which it had decomposed and rotted in one year. Once these boxes break down, I plan to rebuild them with Trex, or some other recycled plastic decking material, rather than pressure-treated lumber.