Monday, May 2, 2011

Box Building

Last summer, as I watched our "topsy turvy" planters grow a grand total of six $10 bell peppers, I talked a big game about how "Next year, Peeper will be big enough to get into it, so I'm going to do some square foot gardening."

As spring approached, then started to slip slowly by, I did nothing and then more nothing. I had about realized that I was blowing it off, when I was at Aldi and ran into raised bed boxes on sale. I will not say what the price was, because if they're cheaper at Lowe's, I don't want to know.

At that point, I rationalized that if Peeper's going to be spending hours outside every day (as she'd really like to do) I suppose that I might as well be tending some crops while I'm out there.

(Of course, there is also the correllary: If she doesn't make me spend hours outside every day, the crops are probably going to be neglected.)

So, I bought the box, and brought it home and assured Shrike that I would use my birthday money for it.

Then, Shrike found a Lowe's "project starter" card, good for $10 off a $50 purchase, which was expiring on Saturday, so of course, I had to go ahead and buy everything that I'll need!

I've got tomato, bell pepper, cucumber and watermelon plants sitting by a window in the sunroom, hopefully staying alive until we can get them planted. I've also got planter potatoes and onions, as well as seeds for carrots, spinach and pumpkins.

I'm going with the square foot gardening "Mel's Mix" more or less. That calls for equal parts of peat moss, vermiculite and compost, but ours will be heavier on compost (see below). I may also add potting soil, to fill it out.

I bought the peat moss and not nearly enough vermiculite, but we still need compost, because although we have two bins in the yard, we've not actually made nearly enough. Our township has a composting facility, where we can get a small pickup full (luckily, we have a small pickup) for - get this - five dollars! so there's no way in hell I'm spending whatever it is that Lowe's wants for a bag of it.

This evening, right around dusk, I decided to put the box itself together, and of course, Shrike and Peeper helped.

She did try to run off into the grass carrying four of the screws, but once I got her back, she was very helpful. After I drilled all the pilot holes, she put the screws for me.

The boards are a very light, hollow composite material, so when I got ready to put it together, I carried one board out into the yard and asked Peeper if she could get the others. The next thing I knew, she was standing there with a board on her foot, and crying.

Worst. Mother. Ever.

I scooped her up, and apologized and kissed it, and asked her, "Do you need some goody for it?"

"Goooody fooor iiiit!" she wailed, so we sat down and nursed for a minute, until Mommy came outside, then we told her all about it.

She kissed the foot as well, and Peeper got down out of my lap.

As I was carrying board number two out to the garden location, I looked up to see that Peeper had the next board in her hands, and was bringing it to me! Right back on that horse, she'd hopped!

Later while I was fitting the boards together, she found the one remaining bag of parts (corner post caps), opened it, and brought the parts to me.

When it was time to put it all together, she also "helped" with pounding the corner stakes in, and then put all the caps on.

Not to mention bringing me my travel mug of coffee "Here go, Mama. Coffee, Mama. Here go." multiple times, without even being asked.

"Thank you, honey. That's okay, you can put it down right there. Yes, baby right there. Oh, okay, honey, I'll take it, thank you."

(She does not understand that you might actually want to set your drink down for a moment.)

I hope she'll be this helpful when it's time to actually plant and care for the garden.

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