Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Square Box Gardening # 3

How to Assemble Garden Boxes.

Cutting the Sides
Lets say you want to start with 10 boxes. Just buy 8 Cedar Fence boards that are 6 foot long. This will give you enough sides to make 10 boxes. To see how this works, we will make 2 "Story Sticks".  One for the Short Sides 12 inches long and one for the Long Sides 13-1/4 inches long. Any stick that is straight will do.  Cut these sticks to exact measurement. With these you can quickly mark the lengths off on your board. Be sure to allow 1/8 inch for your cutting blade between Side pieces. If you don't your boards may be short! You can make 4 short pieces and one long piece or 4 long pieces and one short piece. You should have about 5 inches or so of scrap on the Dog-Ear end of the fence board. 

Keep track of parts for each Box.
Keep track of the sides. Stack sides for one box with 2 short sides and 2 long sides. Just change direction when you add another stack of sides to the last stack. Or just keep them separate. It will help keep you on track!

 Almost Everything You Need to Know is in this Diagram. /|\

The Rest is Here \|/

 Note that the long sides are attached to the small sides. If you change this around, you will no longer have a box where the insides are 12 inches X 12 inches - or a square foot inside.
The small circles on the right side are the screw points. The larger holes around the bottom of the box are 3/8 drain holes for when the big rains come! If you leave these out, You plants could easily drown as the boxes are pretty water tight. 

 Drilling the Drain Holes
After screwing the sides together, now is the time to drill the drain holes.  They should be from 1/2 inch to 1 inch at most from the bottom of the box. This will allow adequate drainage in deluges and too exuberant watering by Grand-Kids!  You can drill the holes later but I find it easier to do at this time.

Attach the Bottom Plastic Sheeting
 There are two reasons for using a plastic sheet bottom instead of just nailing a piece of plywood to the bottom. You could do this and just skip the whole plastic sheet-slats or trim boards subject. But.  You expose your box to rot underneath and add extra weight to the box. When the soil in your mix is just damp, you can pick the boxes up easily - soil and all - without having a breakthrough in the plastic. Think of how handy if you are moving. You will be able to take the smaller plants with you. For the Large plants - like mature tomatoes, you Could slip a  thin board underneath for extra support when moving. If you find that your tomato plant is not getting enough sun, like any container, just move the box, plant and all to a brighter place!
 Cutting the Landscape Cloth
I don't quite know why they call it "Cloth" at some places. I guess the word "Plastic" is just to tacky.  From here on out, I am just going to call it Plastic Sheeting. There are various places you can probably get sheets of heavy plastic Free.  For example, you could cut down one side of a TopSoil Sack and get at least enough plastic for 2 boxes. Larger Cotton Boll sacks [ 2 cubic feet of compost] from your nursery, (very good compost by the way) would probably get you 4 box bottoms easily. Both 4 and 6 mil Construction Plastic can be bought by the roll at most hardware stores. Smaller 4 mil plastic sheeting rolls can be found in some Dollar Stores which are sold as Paint Cloths. 

You will notice, that I have rolled out the cloth at 15-1/4 inches and cut through it all with a box knife. Next I fold this piece out and cut out the width of each box 2 inches or 14 inches. I have one bottom 14 inches X 15-1/4 inches. This leaves an inch extra all around the box when it is tacked on. Why is it necessary to overlap? Because my Wife said so! When you see the box being used, you will sometimes notice the plastic edge hanging outside the edges of the bottom. My wife is Always Right so there Must be a good reason for the overlap.  Eventually I will see the light!

Cut the Wood Slats
Cut 4 strips of wood to the exact lengths of the sides. I use a small coping saw to cut them off at the box. Notice the cutting mark

Tack the Plastic Sheet Down
Center the plastic so it overhangs about an inch all around and tack the strip down on it.  Here you see I have use a small inch and a quarter galvanized nail but they don't have much of a head to hold the wood. They are a little cheaper and wont rust as well.

Tack the strips all the way around.  Trim the extra plastic off if you have any hanging over. This is more likely with pieces of plastic like Plant Nursery sacks as mentioned before.  Work around the box until the whole bottom is tacked down securely.   Here you see extra plastic hanging over. 

 Were Nearly Finished
Your box is now ready to drill holes if they haven't been drilled. After applying a stain and drilling holes as is needed here, the Garden Boxes are finished and ready for you to add a good soil mix.

Part 4 will show you how to use these boxes that could change you way of gardening forever saving you a lot of work each spring and tons of water (and water bills) that usually runs off to no use to your plants whether they be most vegetables or flowers. By using various color stains and colors of paint, you can really wake up your garden! I will also give you a soil mix that I have developed for my boxes that will work anywhere. It works very well for me.


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