I enjoy garden and yard work. Growing up, we always had a fairly large garden. I spent a lot of time working in the garden and enjoyed it. As I spent hours digging up the garden by hand (we didn’t have a roto-tiller), I would pretend I was a forest firefighter digging a fire break and saving a small city… or a soldier digging up mines and saving the platoon. I haven’t done much gardening since then, though. Houston is very different from Kansas and I’m having to re-learn everything.
The first step is getting the garden bed ready. We decided to start with a small bed this spring and add a little each season until we are done. Where we lived in Kansas the soil was soft and sandy. Dig down 2-3 feet (which I did often as a kid) and it was pure sand. Houston is a completely different story.
The hard clay based soil is difficult to dig and not very garden friendly. My kids have dug a small hole in the yard about 3 feet deep. They are digging a mine in hopes of finding gold. Every time it rains, it fills up with water and stays for several days. They usually have to take small buckets and drain most of the water. The water just doesn’t drain. We decided to go with raised beds to get the soil and drainage right for the garden.
We have somewhat of a master plan and are starting with a small “L-shaped” bed. Since our yard is mostly on a slope, it took a little more effort to dig out some of the dirt on the up hill side so the beds will be level. I used Cedar 2×4 for the corner supports and cheap cedar fence boards for the sides. I placed a piece of the fence picket across the middle of each side to provide more support.
I also added a piece of 1″ PVC about 10 inches long to the inside of the boxes. These will serve as supports for frost covers (yes, we do get a couple of frosts a year in Houston), bird netting so we might actually get to eat some of what we grow, and poles for climbing plants. Simply slip a piece of 1/2″ PVC in the supports, cover with frost cover/netting and you’re done.
Joslyn is excited about gardening and helped with the layout and some of the digging. Owen just likes to work on projects with me and helped with the construction and digging. We ended up with three levels of beds for our spring garden. Now to fill the beds with dirt, compost, etc. and get the plants in. I look forward to sharing the progress of our garden project with you.