Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Square Box Gardening # 2

Square Box Gardening # 2

Today I will be showing you how to build a simple Garden Box.  To keep this project simple and fairly  inexpensive, I have based the lumber for our boxes solely on regular  6 Foot - Dog Eared Cedar Fencing.  Most are about 5- 1/4 inches wide, about 5/8" to 3/4" thick and have a "dog ear" at one end about an inch long.  They average about $1. 69 at most Big Box Stores. But shop around and it could save you a few bucks.

 Painting or Staining
Cedar fencing is actually more rot-resistant than pine and you will find that regular cedar fence boards are usually much cheaper. The best wood fencing of course is of course Redwood...but it's like buying Gold! Boxes made from Redwood will last practically for a lifetime.  These boxes will last about 2 to 5 years if you paint them or use an outdoor wood stain. I bought some out-of-date outdoor wood-stain at my local hardware store for $1 a gallon. Great bargain. It had a slightly unpleasant smell to it but it worked great and the smell disappears when it dries. Look for Bargains. I saved about $25 a gallon. (and my Garden didn't notice) I bought 6 gallons.  Here in Wichita we have a Free Recycle Paint Outlet provided by the City. Yard Sales often have cheap paint. Dilute it by half and use as a stain on your boxes and save even more.

 Plastic Sheeting Material
 Remember, your boxes will not be set on the ground directly. The Bottoms will be made of heavy plastic material. Believe it or not, A few hours after even a heavy rain, you will be able to pick the boxes up with your hands. Including the soil within and the plant too (unless they are really tall and cumbersome). If your planning on moving, you can pick up the box plant and all and set it in your truck. When you get where your going, set it down in the garden space you have chosen, and your good to go. Just add water! My boxes all set on a back lawn that I am converting into a garden. I set them ready to grow right on the grass. The heavy plastic material - "Black Landscape Material" or use heavy plant material bags left over from Mulch, Top Soil, Wood Chips, Garden Soil, Cotton Boll etc. Just slit them open down one side. If your lucky, you will have enough Box Bottoms to complete 4 - Square Foot Boxes.

Copper Nails
As you will see in the diagram, I like to use Screen Trim nails. Small copper nails most often seen in "Plastic Storm Window Kits that you can get for a few bucks. (Copper Nails with heads can be purchased at most hardware and lumber outlets. They are usually about 3/4 of an inch long and have a common head.)  However, the plastic in the kits, is way too thin if you are setting your boxes on weeds or grass. They will poke right through and you will be weeding your boxes. Weed or grass seeds blow in or in you soil mix already has weed seeds and grass in it. Using heavy plastic sheeting will save you 95% of the weeding you have to do with regular gardens.  All I have to do is Mow the grass between the boxes and weed eat around the boxes. I learned to keep the weed eater string close to the ground, after whacking off a few new cucumber plants!

Until this year, I didn't use caulking. However, I was sometimes loosing water from the boxes when I watered through the 4 corners.
Below the soil level was no problem in most cases. The soil filled any corner cracks. However, when I want to water maybe once or twice a week - depending on the heat and lack of rain of course, I like to fill the box to the brim with water. 

This gives me the equivalent or better of a One-Inch Rain over the one square ft. Area of soil that the plant sits in.  I pour a half-gallon or more per plant. I also mix my fertilizers like wise.  Also, if I use a gallon per Garden box, I know exactly how much water I am using.

  Since my hose puts out a gallon of water every few seconds, I can just point the hose, count off the few seconds, and water each plant easily and exactly. With the plant boxes in increments of 1 square ft, you can know exactly what your watering should be and even the soil mix and fertilizer amounts with a few simple calculations.  No waste of water, fertilizer, etc and you have complete control. 

Wood Strips or Screen Trim
Wood Trim or Screen Stock is plated in Gold at the Lumber Outlets. It is about 1/8" thick, 5/8" wide, and 8 Ft wide. Along with the copper nails, it's great to nail the plastic to the bottom of the boxes as shown below.  However, get a few scrap 3/4 (1x- nominal name) white pine and have a  woodworker friend rip you a bunch of slats.
 One 6 ft board will give you enough slats for about 12 boxes. And cost you half the price of One Wood Trim at the store!

  | Do Not do this yourself if you are not an Advanced Woodworker or Carpenter.  It is a dangerous procedure for those who have never had much experience with a power saw! |

1-1/4" Dry Wall Screws
(Often called Multi-Purpose Screws lately)
These will be used to Screw the sides of the Garden Boxes together.
 One small box (1-1b Box should do about 20 Square Ft. Boxes.

Waterproof Glue
I like to use Waterproof - outdoor approved Glue. My first boxes tended to have the screws coming out on occasion but not severely so. But I use it now to avoid the nuisance. It is optional. I use Tite-Bond III (trademark). It's very good and not as expensive as Gorilla ( trademark) Glue. Which ever you prefer. 

 Tools You Need
Hammer      (Or a Small tack hammer instead is easier to handle but not necessary.

Small Handsaw - to cut strips to length.

Power Drill - Can be done by hand but tedious to assemble boxes.

Power Drill - Phillips Bit to help put in dry wall screws.

 End of "Simple Box Gardening" Part 2.
Keep watching for Part 3 coming soon where we will give you simple plans for building the Gardening Box and Photos of yours truly finally doing some work.

All Rights Reserved. Copyright Robert Mader 2012

E-Mail:  robertlee97@gmail.com

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