How nice of you to ask. We built this!
At the end of last year, we made plans to expand the garden considerably by adding two long, raised beds in the center of the yard. The plan was for them to measure approximately 10 to 12 feet long and 3 to 4 feet wide, and they would be made out of stone blocks. (That’s why we planted so many more seedlings this year, because, ideally, many of them would go into the raised beds.) As the winter drew on, we eventually decided that we’d hold off on creating the two beds at the same time (that would mean a lot more work that we were likely to admit we were ready for), and instead opted to build one this year and one next year.
Over the course of last week, we spent time online looking at the types of blocks that were available, and we made a couple trips to our local home improvement store to scope them out in person. After finding the one type that we liked, it was then a matter of figuring how to get them home. We thought about having a pallet delivered (it wasn’t like we weren’t going to find a way to use any extra blocks), but instead we rolled up our sleeves, applied a generous amount of fortitude, and packed what we could into our little car. Four trips and generous numbers of aspirin later, we had all the bricks we needed.
Then, after taking more aspirin, we went through a dry run with placement. After getting the bricks situated in a most reasonable fashion, then it was time for some elbow grease. And LOTS more aspirin. We had to clear out the sod from inside the bed.
Square by square, we worked with shovels and sweat until we could barely move our arms and legs and backs. A late afternoon storm on Saturday signaled the end of the first work day, but we managed to get a good portion of the sod removal done before the rain showed up.
Today, we only had to remove a little more sod before we got on with the rest of what needed to be done — the fabric weed blocker and the second layer of stones. That work went easily enough; and now we have a lovely new bed that’s ready for soil. Lots and lots of soil.
And what’s going in this long bed, you ask? Tomatoes, peppers, and basil. Or at least, that’s the plan. We’ll see just what will fit in practice when the time comes. We’ll share our planting maps in an upcoming post.
But speaking of peppers and tomatoes, boy oh boy, do our look…well…not so great. 😦
After weeks and weeks of growing like champs, the tomatoes, especially, are starting to struggle. We’ve got a number of factors at play — not enough light, not enough nutrients — so we’ve been working to fix what we can. We need to get these in the ground this weekend, if the weather looks good, or by next weekend at the latest.
It may be that we’re a little too eager to get the tomatoes started and a little too hopeful that the spring would be warmer than it has been. While the 40 degree nights and 50-60 degree days have been excellent for human, they haven’t been so nice for plants likes these that crave warm weather. We’ve been keeping them in the cold frame in fits and spurts, but it hasn’t retained heat in the manner that we thought. This whole process has been quite the learning experience, and definitely learned a few things that will change our gardening ways in the future. But for now, we’re focusing on keeping everything going as best we can.
Meanwhile, everything else that we planted is doing okay. (Sorry for the questionable photos ahead; everything kind of looks the same as in previously photos. Like we said, growth has been quite slow, unfortunately.) The best thing so far is that we have bunches of pea sprouts!
Progress in the other beds has been slow thanks to the cool weather, but we’ve still got some promise in both.
Heading out to the front yard, some of our transplanted day lilies are loving their new home.
And we’ve got the tiniest of marigolds making their way up in the sidewalk beds.
And, of course, we continue to marvel at how well the strawberry is doing.
With the stone raised bed mostly complete, our work will now shift to preparing and tilling our other existing beds in order to get them ready for planting. Really hard to believe May is just around the corner. Let’s hope that our April showers bring something nice in the weeks to come!