The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Are you a Gardener?

Having moved to the current Casa de Hedonist in mid-June last year we were too late and too busy to do any gardening. We wouldn’t be considered experts in it as the only things we’ve had regular success with were tomatoes and cucumbers. It could’ve been that our tiny yard at our old house only had one suitable spot and the neighbor’s trees kept it in the shade too much.   That’s definitely not a problem with the new place’s much larger yard and full sun.

I wanted to build rather tall raised beds to discourage rabbits and to make it easier for us to tend to the plants without stooping over all the time. Because it was going to be somewhat tall, it was going to take a lot of combined soil and compost to fill it. And with that much dirt it was going to require thick walls made of 4 x 4 posts to hold it all in. Lots of them.

garden lumber

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What I’m getting at is that I spent a heckuva lot of bucks on lumber and dirt in the hopes of growing $30 in veggies. But I guess it’s all about the experience, right?

I’m no expert in building garden boxes but if you have any questions or need advice, feel free to ask in the comments section or send me an email.  Here’s how I did it…

Start by framing the first couple of rows of boxes, to get the general structure. I overlapped the posts at the corners and used big Timberlok screws to attach to the row below.

Garden frame

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I then stapled hardware cloth – a steel mesh – to the bottom to prevent moles and other critters from burrowing up from the bottom.

Garden cloth

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I installed gravel paths between the boxes so that I wouldn’t have to worry about mowing the grass there.  To prevent the grass and weeds from growing in those areas, I laid down landscape fabric.

Garden weed stop

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I then placed the boxes that I started in place and built them up to the desired heights.

Now the absolute worst part of it – moving this mountain of soil.

 


IMG_5600

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We had to build up the ground around our house as well, so we got a LOT of soil. We were sore for a whole week.

NOTE TO SELF:  Get a better job so I can hire this out next time.

Here they are all filled –

garden filled**

The square one in front was 4 ft x 4 ft x 16 in high and is for herbs. The larger box is L-shaped – a 4 x 4 x 20 in square and a 4 x 8 x 24 in rectangle. The different heights were to add some visual interest to it.

I was planning on a lot of tomatoes and cucumbers again. Those are pretty easy to grow and wanted to make sure we got SOMETHING out of all that hard work.  What they both do need is some sort of support as they grow and the easiest solution is to use those tomato cages or a trellis.  I get really annoyed by those cheap wire cages and the pre-made wooden trellises were going to cost around $75. So I bought $50 in copper pipe and fittings and soldered together my own.

garden trellis

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I know that this thing is going to last much longer than the cheapo wood ones and over time it’ll develop that beautiful green patina. I’m going to run some twine between the bars to give the plants something to cling to.

Slap on some deck stain on the boxes for some color and lay down the gravel and we’re ready to rock and roll…

garden finished

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We already had the bench and planter elsewhere so we added it here to create a nice, serene place to chill out with a nice, fruity bottle of rose wine.  Or a nasty bottle of cheap tequila.  Whatevs.

Unbelievably, in less than a month we were able to get some food from it.  I threw in some seeds directly into the dirt and I got…

garden arugula

A ton of arugula which should keep going all summer

garden radishes

Radishes! I had no idea they’d be ready this quick.

And a lot of spinach, too.

And a lot of spinach, too.

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It’s going to be an awesome summer.   Stay tuned for some more gardening adventures!

Do you garden?  What are you growing?  (Besides that mustache…)

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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

15 comments on “Are you a Gardener?

  1. armchairsommelier
    June 19, 2014

    FANTASTIC raised beds!! I know that was a TON of work! I used to do quite a bit of gardening, but doing battle with the deer in our neighborhood has been my Gallipoli. I’m down to a tomato plant or two now. I usually join in a CSA group or make frequent trips to our local farmers market . . . let someone else fight the hungry wildlife! But nothing beats that first radish out of the garden . . . Cheers!!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 19, 2014

      Thanks!! Yeah, we’ve had deer in our yard so I’m a little worried about that. I think I’m still going to hit the market, but I can see not buying much!

  2. SAHMmelier
    June 19, 2014

    Beautiful! My dad and sister have built very similar beds and filled them, but I have not. There has always been plenty yo share and I was busy with a couple of long term “projects.” The growing season and range differs down here in TX, a curve my father enjoyed learning, but you can grow all year. They’ve done all the standards and a few fun things like artichokes. Really nice job!

    • Anonymous
      June 19, 2014

      Thank you! Unfortunately our growing season is pretty limited in MI, so we can’t get too imaginative. Can probably come up with a list of 20 things to grow if I were there. Artichokes being one of them!

  3. A2sicilian
    June 19, 2014

    Just awesome. Envious!

  4. mrsugarbears
    June 19, 2014

    Oh my goodness! You created an incredible area in your yard. This is beautiful! My small salsa garden is a lot of fun, but this…wow. I can’t wait to add on to mine.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 19, 2014

      Thx!! It’s going to be a couple months before I can make salsa. But I’ll at least have enough to make salsa for all of Pancho Villas men.

  5. Salty Sweet Life
    June 19, 2014

    I am so jealous over your gorgeous garden! Your raised planters are beautiful and I love the copper pipes! Our garden isn’t doing well at all this year. Windstorms screwed up some of our tomatoes and we had to cut them all the way back. I am cautiously optimistic about other tomatoes that we have growing but Vegas has not been kind to us so far. I’ll live vicariously through your garden! Congrats!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 19, 2014

      thanks! I can imagine getting a lot out of a Vegas garden, but watering might be an issue – I’m lazy like that…

  6. Anonymous
    June 19, 2014

    My gardening depends on my current place of residence. I keep moving, so it keeps changing. Last year being our first year, we also did not bother planting a garden. This year, we decided to get started.

    Currently, I have parsley, cilantro, basil, lemon verbena, rosemary, oregano, tarragon and sage in pots on the deck. They’re in individual pots because I’ll try to take them in, this winter, some will survive and others won’t. That is why I use individual pots.

    Also, I need some groundcover as my yard is a bit on the unlandscaped side and I’m trying to correct that, so I planted some thyme in an area where I don’t want grass. I also planted some lavender (one that can be used for culinary purposes) and two kinds of sorrel.

    In a past house, we had put in a raised bed by buying lumber as you had but, upon going to the hardware store for lumber for this house’s garden, found a great cedar board kit for this and just used that. It saved time on cutting the boards and hammering as it just all fits together. I have five tomato plants, two sweet pepper plants and two pickling cucumber plants.

    A few deer tips, although there’s nothing guaranteed:
    1. Create a hoop frame or box frame to cover your raised beds. When you use something like chicken wire, the sun will get to the vegetables and it makes it harder for deer to get in. When you do this, you need to make sure you don’t make something so heavy that you can’t lift it off when you need to pick your goodies.
    2. Put obstacles around the beds. I had read that deer especially don’t like to have to go through what might be a little maze and they will be somewhat deterred. So, if you have deck chairs, toys, sculptures, anything around these beds, that could help.
    3. The only product I’ve found that has always worked for me is Deer Away. There is a spray to use on tall things, like topiary bushes, and a pellet style that you can sprinkle on the ground. I haven’t used it since my last house (a deer-overridden place), but I think the instructions tell you not to use it around edible things for some portion of time before picking those edibles. However, I just sprinkled it kind of close to the plants, not right by them, and it seemed to work like a witch’s circle to keep deer out. The downside – it’s expensive and it STINKS because it has what is basically rotten eggs in it, or some kind of chemical equivalent. If you want to use your area as a seating area, don’t do this on the day of your kids outside birthday party or even some days before (I had this figured out when I used to use it, but can’t remember how many days I thought were sufficient). But this stuff lasts for about a month, if I remember right, so the expense isn’t that bad when you consider other products that have to be reapplied every time it rains, for example.

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  8. Max D.
    July 22, 2014

    Very, very impressive. And I hate you for it. I should send you a photo of my “garden,” essentially a row of randomly selected herbs and planted in the laziest way possible, right next to my two-year-old mulch pile. If you keep this up, I’m gonna have to start my own blog: “The Seething, Resentful, Inadequate-in-Every-Way, Good-for-Nothing Hedonist.”

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  10. You know that radishes are the “gateway vegetable” for gardeners. Well done with the boxes.

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This entry was posted on June 19, 2014 by in Cooking, Stuff and tagged , , , , , , .
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