Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Mother's Day Garden Box

I've been dreaming and scheming about building a raised bed to plant a garden in for at least six years now. One thing or another always seemed to derail my plans. Well, this past weekend, I took a break from playing Farmville, and I planted a real garden.

I think it was when my seven-year-old daughter asked me if we could plant the flowers outside that provided the final catalyst to finally launch this project properly. The flowers that she was referring to are the flowers that she brought home from school for me for Mother's Day. Her brother brought some home, too, and she brought some home from her Girl Scout meeting earlier last week, too. So I had three neat little pots of geraniums on the kitchen counter.

And, so on Friday (05/07/2010) after I picked up my children from their day care provider, I dropped them off at the house with their Dad, and I went to my local discount department store to see if they had what I wanted in their garden department. I had drawn up a plan already, so I knew I needed twelve "cinder" blocks and 7 cubic feet of potting soil. The ground around my house is about 95% clay, nothing grows in it. The grass just sort of grows on top of it until it is totally soaked with rain, and then it drowns and moss moves in.

I had a little trouble hauling everything to the checkout stand and loading it in my truck, but I got it done. I was super extra careful to lift with my legs because I have hurt my back so many times. When I got everything home, I was too tired to unload it so I just left it in the truck.

The next day (05/08/2010), my husband caught sight of my supplies in the back of the truck, and he became very grumpy. He hates it when I start projects like this. He was just sure that it was going to look hideous. He really just wanted me to pull the weeds in the front yard, but there is a space in the front yard which is always just weeds, and I wanted to put something there, and this is what I decided to put there. He made me promise to take it out if he didn't like it. As if...

It was very important to me to get this box level because my last project, the sand box, is not level, and I can tell that it is not level, and it grates like nails on a chalk board every time I look at it. The ground slopes just a bit where I decided to plant this box, so there was little digging involved, but really just a little, just enough to disturb a little mole that made a very brief, squeaky appearance. I was really pleasantly surprised with how nicely the blocks went in - one right after another, level, level, level.

The children were supposed to be pulling weeds in the area adjacent to where I was working, but without a dedicated overseer, they slipped away to more interesting activities (running through the sprinkler). My husband was busying himself with the truck, fixing some thing or another. He took a break to check on my progress. He was very grumpy. "This side is further away," he complained. I had no idea what he meant by that. I was too tired. I explained that it wasn't finished and that it was going to have a back. "Nevermind, it's none of my business," he said, and he returned to his project.

I finished laying the blocks and back filled them a bit. I used a rake to smooth out the bark chips all around the box. Adding the bark chips that the box had displaced to the area in front of the box really evened out the slope quite nicely I thought.

I dug out the center a bit more, and started filling the wheelbarrow with the clay I had removed from the site. In all, it only filled the wheelbarrow once, but I think it was too heavy to have tried to move it all in one trip because when I tried to move the wheelbarrow, I twisted the tire right off its rim. It wasn't damaged exactly, but it was flat, so I emptied the wheelbarrow and took it back to the garage.

We have an air compressor for inflating tires, but this tire was tricky because it had no tube inside the tire. Why tires are designed this way? The tire had to make contact with every point all around the rim in order to create a seal that would hold the air. It required several attempts, but I was finally able to create a seal all the way around by wrapping a bungee cord around the circumference of the tire.

I moved the clay in three trips and dumped in the back yard where we have a bit of a low spot left over from my first attempt to build a sandbox. (There were two attempts at that sand box.) Then I filled the garden box with potting soil. I stepped back to admire my work, and I couldn't believe it. IT WAS CROOKED! I had been so careful to make sure the box was level, but I totally forgot to make sure that it was SQUARE! When my husband complained that one side was farther away, he meant that the right side of the box was farther away from the fence than the left side of the box. I was SO ANGRY! I stormed into the house, slammed the door as hard as I could, and kicked him in the shin.

Not really. I didn't really kick him. I did slam the door really hard, and I really wanted to kick him. It didn't matter that it wasn't his fault. I become irrational when I'm angry. He was still really very grumpy. We had started with three five-gallon buckets that we were going to fill with weeds that we pulled from the flower beds, if we combined our efforts, we probably only filled one bucket. He really wanted those weeds pulled for some reason. I don't really get it. The weeds are just little vine-y things with flowers on them that crawl around under the bushes. Who cares?

That night (05/08/2010), I slept uneasily, worrying all night about the prospect of taking that box apart and rebuilding it, so that I could make it square. I knew that I was too tired to attempt such a thing, but I also knew that if I didn't, then I would hate that box every time I looked at it - just like the sandbox.

The next morning (05/09/2010) was Mother's Day. My husband shooed our children out of our bedroom, so that I could sleep late which was awfully nice of him. When I got up, the children proudly showed me that they had cleaned their rooms. They had done a good job, too. I felt much better. A good night's sleep does wonders for one's outlook. I decided that I would not take the box apart. I decided that I would fill it with flowers, and it would be so beautiful that no one would notice that it was crooked.

I built some dividers for the box from some scrap wood that we had handy, and I took my seven-year-old daughter with me to the store to buy some flower and some herbs. We decided that we needed 24 flowers and ten herbs. We had great fun picking them out. My daughter's favorite was a pink daisy. I talked her into a dahlia even though it didn't look like anything because I think it might be beautiful when it grows up. She picked out a few pansies in different colors and some begonias and a strawberry. I picked out some hens and chicks because my mother used to plant those. For the herb garden we got peppermint, basil, chives, rosemary, purple sage, and some other stuff.

We got home, and we arranged them and planted them. This was by far the most fun - digging in the dirt with my little girl. I told my daughter stories about gardening with my mother. My mother's garden was larger than my whole front yard! It was a vegetable garden, but I remember my mother pouring over seed catalogues and ordering saplings and planting a little orchard when I was young, too.

I was dead tired at the end of the weekend. It didn't seem fair that I had to go to work the next day (05/10/2010). That night the flowers got a little rain, and I took a picture in the morning - hopefully the first of many.

No comments:

Post a Comment