Thursday, May 24, 2012

Missy's Homestead - Part 3 The Dirt Pile

I have always loved building things.  It started as a child.  It all came from dad.   Dad is one of those fathers that can build anything.  Literally.  My father once built a dog house that looked like a california mission.  No joke.

When we moved into our new place in Northern Cali one of the things that I really wanted to do was have a garden.  Growing my own food, helping to lower my carbon footprint and creating my own little slice of life just outside in my back yard.    Now the place we live now is super small.  Smaller than the last apartment I had in the city but it has a huge front and back yard with tons of space for gardening.  So I set out to build some raised garden beds.  I love the reclaimed/recycled wood trend that is happening now.  Not only does it look awesome but it is good for the environment too. Reusing materials keeps trash out of the landfills and reduces your impact on our earth.

So first thing I called up good ol'dad and said, "what do you have that I could make some raised beds out of?"  Of course my dad was like...."Well I got this old box that I built to cover the septic tank at the cabin.  You could use that."

Oh boy Septic Tank cover wood.  Great.  But actually it was perfect!  The right size and length, weathered and old but still in great condition.  To round out the materials I went to the lumber store and had them cut me some end pieces for the corners and bough a box of galvanized nails.

Now like many I don't have a wood shop in my backyard so I had to somehow cut some of the 8 foot long boards in half  so I could piece them together. I don't have any sawhorses so I fashioned some out of the used kitchen chairs that my mother had given me awhile back.  They were not perfect but they worked.  

The first one took me forever.  I did things in such a backwards manner I don't even know how I finished it.  But finally it was basically square and looked pretty level.   I sat down and drank some water and thought about what I was doing.  I thought okay Melissa why did this take you so long?  I realized after having done one that there was another way (A better way) to put these together that would be much easier.  Thank god the second one only took half the length of time the first one did.  Sometimes when you do things on your own you have to struggle to get through it.  But if you can make it through the first one odds are the next time you do the same thing you know a little bit more about what you are doing.  And that was exactly what happened.  At first I kind of gave myself a hard time but after a few seconds I realized that this is how we learn.  Do, Evaluate, Do Again, Do Better.

I decided that I also wanted to cover the bottoms of the planter boxes with wire mesh to keep weeds and creatures out of the under portions of my beds so I made the beds upside down first and attached it to the bottom.  After that I flipped them over and set them into place.  Not the greatest building job ever but they were mine.  And they only cost me about 35 bucks to make.  

Turns out the hardest part of this whole project wasn't even the was the shoveling!!!  Of course after I built the planter boxes I had to fill them with dirt.  So I did a couple measurements and walked around the corner to the landscaping store.  Yes the dirt store is around the corner.

They sent the youngest kid I have ever seen to drive over with his big dump truck and dumped 2 Cubic Yards of dirt into my back ally.  Of course I attracted the attention of half the neighborhood with the teenager driving the huge dump truck into the back ally.  But everyone was super nice and a few even came out and helped me move the tarp around so it would hold all my smelly dirt.  After about 30 trips in my wheel barrel, 4 blisters, a couple incidents where I had to chase the cats away from my dirt  ( they decided it was a very large litter box) everything was in order.  I had a homemade garden!!!! I have to plant everything!?  No one ever said this homestead thing was going to be easy...but it sure feels pretty darn good.

If you are interested in making your own raised beds here is a good resource to check out.

Until next week!


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