>Building Food

>I uploaded the rest of the pictures from the Memorial Weekend trip we took to Oregon. I’m not going to write about it, but if you care you can see the images via this flickr photostream (clicking the image will show any commentary that goes with it). It was a blast.


Last year I built a couple raised beds, but it was too late in the year to get any planting in. This year, though, we are ready . . . this past weekend we got them ready to start producing some food. In total there are three beds we will plant in; each took about a yard of earth to fill.

You can see we have some smaller boxes there too; those are potato boxes. They are starting to grow as well (and since this picture was taken they’ve gone nuts!)

Before I filled the boxes with dirt, I unloaded a year’s worth of household composting and mixed it into the straw base. After the top layer, our compost can was full of the blackest, wettest, stinkiest compost you’ve ever seen.

I got the soil from Marchie’s Nursery here in Missoula. I was going to get just one big load delivered, but not knowing exactly how much I would need, I decided to just take the canopy off the truck and haul it myself. Julia was teaching a dance class, so I did the first load/box myself. Here’s what happens when you set the camera down to do some real work and you have an obnoxious teenager that takes a bit much after his grandpa watching over your shoulder:

Didn’t take long and I had box #1 full of dirt. It’s a bit full, but it has settled quite a bit.

About this time Julia got home so we went after load #2. It’s weird seeing my truck without the canopy, since it’s been on there for about 10 years!

A couple trips later and we had all three boxes filled. It went a lot faster with a real helper!

Once all the dirt was in, I started spreading that material on the ground around them to block grass and weeds from growing through it.

After that, it was one more trip to the nursery for bark, a little more shoveling and spreading, and it was complete!

It was hot, dirty, sweaty work but I enjoyed the hell out of it. I think I am going to fill in the spaces where the shape isn’t square so it is easier to enclose. We can’t decide if we are going to just figure out a way to cover the boxes vs. deer or just fence the whole space. I have a little while before that decision needs to be made. Now, we just have to accept that we have introduced the neighborhood’s premium catbox facility for all the local felines, the little bastards. . . .

9 thoughts on “>Building Food”

  1. >looks awesome, chris!! isn’t compost amazing. i love the stuff. glad to see your potatoes…we planted some this year for the first time.

  2. >Thanks, April. You’re right — compost is like freakin’ magic. I never in a million years would have imagined I’d get so excited about this stuff.

  3. >I love Sid's picture. Also the one of Grandpa. Nice work on the raised beds. Can you believe, I actually daydream about having a compost pile? To go along with my dream garden and dream house.Enjoy.

  4. >Isorski — thanks, man!Patia — Make a compost bucket like your watering can. Take an empty plastic bucket or something, drill some holes in the bottom, then start filling it up. You'll be astounded!

  5. >If you had a big jug or bucket, it would be like a smaller version of what we used, which was an extra plastic garbage can. You drill the holes in the bottom not only for drainage, but also in hopes that, as it sits on the ground, worms will tunnel up from below and infest your compost, which is the best possible thing you could have happen. Then as you throw scraps from the kitchen, you'd alternate layers of wet (scraps) and dry (we used ripped up newspapers; I'm thinking of getting a bucket of sawdust to use).We went to this master gardener class, and he said he just mixes his scraps in directly to his raised beds. You might even try that with the little garden things you've got going in your planters. Either way, it is actually a lot of fun to do. I was really impressed when I dumped ours out and saw what had been a bunch of miscellaneous stuff had transformed into rich, black soil.

  6. >Any idea how long it might take for the scraps to turn into usable compost?It does sound feasible, although I'm not really sure where I'd put them. See, even though I'm surrounded by acres and acres, I don't really have my own yard. I share it with my landlords and always try to keep my own stuff to a minimum.But boy, I sure do feel guilty throwing good scraps in the trash.

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