Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Next Project: Raised Garden Beds

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Last year, we tried a tilled-in garden and didn't have alot of luck for several reasons:  (1) we didn't plant enough - especially the corn, (2) we got busy and didn't keep it weeded, (3) we planted in the wrong location, and (4) our soil is really crappy.  It doesn't help that the soil is compacted from where they bulldozed the house that used to sit on the lot.

So, after reading Square Foot Gardening and doing much research,  I decided early this year that we would try raised bed gardening instead.   The obvious benefits are that you can better control the soil content (new dirt and compost!) and the height of the beds saves your back from bending over so much. 

I'd read that you shouldn't use CCA- or pressure-treated wood for your beds because the chemicals can leech into the soil and your plants.  Some folks use cedar but it will turn grey from weathering and I wanted something a little cuter.  So I came up with the hair-brained idea of using PVC fencing panels and posts.  These are normally $49 per 6'x6' panel from Home Depot or Lowes, but I caught them on sale for just $37 from HD:

The only thing holding these panels are together is PVC glue where the individual slats meet the top, middle and bottom rails.  We used our Sonicrafter oscillating tool to easily cut these apart at the rails every other slat to create foot high panels (2 slats per panel).  You could use a jigsaw or hand saw to do this also.  Then we cut the 4"x4" vinyl posts to 18" each (getting 3 usable posts out of each one).  And, finally, we cut out rectangles in the posts where the panels would fit into them.

I wanted two beds in front of the chicken coop, with a path between them leading to the door.  Both beds would be identical at just over 5 feet wide by 11 feet long, so we did cut a couple of inches off of each panel.  We then leveled out the ground and set the posts in place.  Then we hammered rebar down into the ground to keep them in place.  No digging to set the posts (although you could, I guess).   

It took a 3 pallets of 20 lb bags of compost\dirt to fill both these beds.    We did get some slight bulging of the panels, but it was minor. Time will tell if we have a problem with the weight of the dirt pushing the "panels" out. 

Then we added the post toppers. (The one in the lower right hand corner is a solar light).

I hope you think the finished product looks as nice as I do!  Next project:  replacing the plywood path to the coop with something nicer.

Til later, I am one tired and....


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