Thursday, June 7, 2007

$180 Later

In the square-foot gardening book, Mel advises to start out small. Matt and I shirked his advice and decided that we wanted to have enough vegetables for a salad and dinner (for each of us!) every day for the entire growing season. That amounts to 65 square feet. We broke out the graph paper and decided to arrange our 65 square feet as follows:

(1) 2ft x 6ft bed for vertical gardening (cantaloupe, watermelons, and pumpkins)
(1) 2ft x 3ft bed
(5) 2ft x 4ft beds (with plywood bottoms, so they can be easily moved, since we're not sure how much sun stuff will need)
(1) 2ft x 2ft bed (again with plywood)
(3) 1ft x 1ft beds (for carrots!) (more plywood here)

Of course 65 square feet of raised beds (most of them with plywood bottoms) calls for quite a bit of wood. Oi vey!

Enter Home Depot.

Home Depot is an entirely different place during the week. No more DIYers. It's serious business with contractors and other polo-shirted men scurrying here and there. No wandering in the aisles. They have the sections memorized.

Matt and I, however, had to pop a squat smack dab in the center of the aisle (on top of our parked flat bed shopping cart) to do more calculations (I had my graph paper on a clipboard). Since the plywood was 4ft x 8ft, we had to reconfigure our original plans (which involved 2ft x 5ft beds) so we could use one sheet of plywood for four boxes.

Then we had to draw out each piece of wood and divided it into sections (i.e., we needed 12-1ft pieces, 18-2ft pieces, 2-3ft pieces, 2-6ft pieces, and 10-4ft pieces) to make sure we had bought enough 16ft pieces of pine wood (the cheapest we could find). But then it turned out that we had been reading the signs incorrectly and had stacked the wrong sized wood onto our flatbed. Twice.

Splinters abounded. Matt and I bickered about how to do the calculations on the graph paper. We were each wrong at least half a dozen times. We stopped and kissed.

The hours passed.

We realized that the raised beds would actually be two inches wider than we originally calculated because you rotate the corners to make a box. For example, the piece on the left side of the square gets screwed to the outside of the piece that goes across the top. Then that piece gets screwed to the top of the piece going down the other side. Then that piece gets screwed to the outside of the last piece. Since each piece of wood is two inches wide, the end results is a box that is two inches wider than the length of the wood.

This realization (a la Matt) affected our plywood estimate. The 4 x 8 plywood would no longer fit our boxes. That is, of course, unless we decreased the length of each piece of wood by two inches. So instead of getting 18-2ft pieces of wood, we would need to get 18-1'10" pieces of wood. Aack!

The saga continued. Really, I could on and on about the wood situation. I cursed myself for my arrogant commitment to 65 square feet. Then the Home Depot wood cutters gave us a hard time. They asked us if we were positive that we wanted them to cut the wood (at $1 per cut after the first two free ones). While I was looking for wood screws, they convinced Matt to buy a saw instead. If we were going to spend $67 on cuts, then we should surely buy a $40 saw. Matt was perfectly commited to the idea until I asked, "And how, pray tell, do you plan to get 6-16ft pieces of wood plus 2-10ft pieces of wood plust two pieces of particle board plus 13-6ft wood laths into your car?"

He replied, "I'll tie it to the bike rack."

I raised my eyebrows.

We went back to the wood cutters and informed them that we did, in fact, want to spend $67 to cut the damn wood. It's a lot cheaper and faster than a trip to the emergency room.

So, long story short:

1) Do draw out your garden on graph paper first. If you aren't sure about the sun and shade situation, plan to cover the bottom with plywood so you can move them around the garden once you get things figured out (our boxes are big, so we bought plywood that is 5/8 inches thick).
2) Purchase wood that is 2in x 6 in. If you want carrots or other things with deep roots, plan to buy 2in x 12in wood.
3) Buy outdoor deck screws that are 3.5 inches long. You'll need three in every corner. Do the calculations before you get to Home Depot!
4) Don't forget the wood laths. They are really cheap. Mel says a garden isn't a square-foot garden unless it has the grids on top. Yes, I do follow his advice sometimes.
5) Plan to spend several hours procuring supplies, unless you follow Mel's advice and start simple.

Share |

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails