The New Garden

May 12, 2008

I decided to help put in a new vegetable garden at my in-law’s house this year. I came up with a design of six 4′ x 15′ beds with mulched pathways in the shape of an “H”. Then we found a good, sunny location in the backyard and staked it out with twine:

We started calling around and found a good price on some blended garden mix of topsoil, composted manure and black peat from a local landscaping company.

Using a yard calculator from Earth Depot I was able to figure out we would need almost 10 cubic yards of garden soil to create a 16′ x 32′ x 6″ deep bed. We also needed some extra to fill in along the driveway. In the end, we got 15 cubic yards as a full load on a tandem truck at a cost of $346.50 with taxes and delivery included. Here’s a shot of all that dirt:

I was tasked with getting cardboard and found an amazing source from IKEA by dumpster diving in their Customer Cardboard Recycling bin and going into the warehouse and collecting empty boxes. At first I felt a little conspicuous searching up and down the aisles until I asked a staff person if it was okay that I take the cardboard. His reply was, “Definitely! Cardboard’s free”. IKEA cardboard is great as there is no dyes or paints on it and it has a minimum of tape and plastic. Also, you can usually luck out with a few huge pieces which are great for covering large surface areas.

Once we got all the cardboard together, we started to lay it down and wet it with water from a hose. Then we dumped the soil on top using a lawn tractor and trailer.

It took two of us about two minutes to fill up the trailer before heading over to the garden site. The pile slowly started to go down:

There was a good rhythm to it: load up the trailer, move it to the site, spread and level it, lay down more cardboard, water it, get more soil, repeat. Here you can see that we’re just over half-way:

We quickly ran out of our cardboard stash:

The next day I got more cardboard to finish off the rest of the garden. We also mixed in some extra sheep manure/leaf compost that we got on sale from a local farm store, spacing out the bags at regular intervals to help spread it evenly.

We let it sit for a week so it could settle in a bit and then we started creating the pathways. Instead of doing the “H” in the initial design, we decided that two pathways would be enough. After four hours of work we finally had the garden finished and planted with rutabaga, carrots (under the white board), beets, radishes and spinach:

I watered the areas where I had planted seeds:

It even has its very own sign – a tribute to a lone rabbit spotted earlier in the day:

In the upcoming weeks I’ll be planting 2 types of corn, 4 types of watermelon, 2 types of squash, 3 types of cucumber, 2 types of potatoes, asparagus and bush beans. Hooray!


4 Responses to “The New Garden”

  1. Emily Says:

    Oh, happy new garden! It looks luscious, all that good dark dirt. You might consider watering the bare dirt, as well as the stuff you’ve planted. Not only will that keep it in good shape and ready for seeds, but it will encourage any weed seeds to germinate before you plant your veggies. Then you can rake or hoe with abandon and not be worrying about what’s veg and what’s weed.

  2. Very cool. I expect to share some of my seeds with you next year! What a great expanse of space.

  3. hyd Says:

    great job! will be a great garden no doubt. what does the cardboard do?


  4. Kathy Says:

    Thanks for the tip, Emily!

    Hyd, the cardboard smothers the grass, however, you have to make sure that it’s nice and wet as you are basically creating a perched water table. If the cardboard is dry the water will run across the top of the cardboard and not go down into the lawn layer. Over a couple of months, the grass will have died off and the cardboard will have rotted.

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