Brooding On

New Garden Boxes: A Work in Progress

I am quite ready for Daylight Savings Time!  Around here, we have so much work to be done outside.  Mostly, it's work that John and I need to do together, but he's rarely home in the daylight hours.  Thankfully, Sunday afternoon provided us some time to work.
Here are the 5 raised garden boxes we intend to use this year.  They're painted white to match the grids we'll be using (remember we're using the Square Foot Gardening Method).  Four of the boxes are 6 inches deep, while the one in the center of the photo is 12 inches deep to accommodate root crops.  We used cardboard boxes as weed block inside the boxes and lined the paths with traditional weed block (only because we ran out of cardboard).  The entire area has been separated from the yard and boxes joined together using 1x4.  We plan to fill the pathways with mulch.

After much research, we've decided to fill our boxes with 1/3 compost, 1/3 rice hulls, and 1/3 peat moss.  The above photo is of the rich compost we've harvested from our own compost pile. 

Because we are novice composters and don't have enough finished compost on hand, we are supplementing with this cow manure. 

Now, the Square Foot Gardening Method suggests using equal parts compost, vermiculite, and peat moss.  We did some shopping around and talking with suppliers and nursery owners and decided to go a different route.  Vermiculite is very expensive and difficult to procure in large quantities.  We've decided to go with these dried rice hulls in place of the vermiculite.  According to our sources, these should accomplish the same purpose (the regulation of water in the soil) for a fraction of the cost.

And, the final ingredient is the peat moss.  We were actually able to buy most of what we needed in large bales from a local nursery.

We poured one wheelbarrow-ful of each ingredient onto a big tarp and mixed it all up.  The girls were great help with this. All was going smoothly until John accidentally flung a shovel-ful onto Girl 1 during our mixing.  "I'm covered in cow poop!"  She was not happy.  However, she continued to work diligently until the job was finished, then put her foot down when it came time to eat dinner.  She WOULD be showering BEFORE she ate dinner.  Who can blame her?

We underestimated how much it would take to fill the boxes, so we've got to get some more before we can finish filling.  However, we were able to get some mix into each box so that the cardboard would be covered and not blow around in the wind.  I'd say it was good work for one afternoon.