no third solution

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Raised-Bed Gardening: Do It Yourself

May 30th, 2009

This spring, prompted in part by a desire to waste less of my productivity, and in part by the novelty of the idea, and in part by the cred I stand to gain among greenies, I decided I wanted to start my own vegetable garden.  However, my backyard is on the North half of the property, so the shadows cast by the house and the garage, combined with those case by three large, 50+ year old trees (I think Maples) growing one on each lot line, and one big old White Burch growing in the South-Central region,keep my yard in near constant shade.

This is very nice for hanging out and barbecuing, but effectively useless for growing a vegetables garden, although I do have a patch of chives, and some basil, and oregano growing back there.  It seemed all hope was lost — until I beheld the awesome power of the internets, and found myself learning about square foot gardening and other raised-bed, intensive techniques.

So I built a box about 5 feet long and 20 inches wide out of some salvage 2 x 10 that I found in the garage rafters, fastened the sides together with drywall screws, and covered the bottom with the remainder of the 2 x 10s, leaving about 1/4 inch between each board for drainage.  I also drilled some 3/4 inch holes at interval across the bottom.  The box rests on 2 x 4 legs.

square foot garden

Now, the “square foot” approach seems like more effort than I’m prepared to undertake, at least this year. Instead, I just threw a bunch of soil, some peat moss that some friends left behind when they moved, some good mulch, and mixed it up.  Then I proceeded to just cram it full of naturey-goodness, paying no particular attention to spacing or whatever.  I’m sure I could get a better yield if I tried harder, but like I said, this first time is more of a lark than anything.  Next year I plan to take it a bit more seriously.

In the top left, hidden behind the bell peppers in the bottom left, are two cucumber plants already sprouting whatever it is that yields num num later in the year.  The bell peppers have begun to flower nicely, and the hot peppers planted adjacent are also doing nicely.  Above the hot peppers is a cherry tomato plant on which I noticed the first flowers earlier this week.  I threw some onions in the mix, too.

The second bin contains spinach.  From the little that I read, spinach sucks all nutrients out of the soil so it is best to keep separate from most other vegetables.  So I did that.

The third bin (which may be subdivided later) has not been planted yet, but I’ve got a large tomato plant with flowers, and I’m looking to pick up another one at the market tomorrow perhaps.  I have about 40 more onions that need planting soon, and I’m also considering carrots or potatoes or some other root vegetable.  There is also a peat-pot with Mint growing, which might be transplanted to clay and left to grow inside the kitchen window, in order to satisfy my summer love for Mojitos.

My recipe calls for raw sugar instead of the white powdered sugar or white crystal sugar, the juice of one lime (give or take) and I use a generous amount of mint leaves, maybe 5 or 6.  Muddle the sugar, lime juice, and mint leaves first, then add ice, then rum, then soda, then stir.

I’m looking forward to learning something from this, and also hoping to get some good eats, too.



  • Monkt says on: May 30, 2009 at 10:48 pm


    Better do it while its still legal.

    • nothirdsolution says on: May 30, 2009 at 10:53 pm


      oh sweet jesus. Now that you mention it, I think I remember hearing about that. Add another reason for why I'm doing it: defiance of stupid laws.

    • Zach S. says on: June 1, 2009 at 3:04 am


      Holy fuck! That scares the crap out of me. I knew it was bad, but that bad?! Its absolutely ridiculous. I have never felt better than I have lately since I started eating whole foods and organic foods (when I can afford it). Fucking politicians and special interest groups.

  • Zach S. says on: June 2, 2009 at 8:19 pm


    I've considered growing my own stuff sometimes, but I wonder how long the yield will last…like will I spend 2 months growing vegetables that I'll have to use in 1 week b4 it goes bad? What are your plans for a continuous yield of product?

    • nothirdsolution says on: June 3, 2009 at 2:42 am


      I have no plans :) but I'll adapt next year. There are certain crops that are better suited for diff't times of year, etc. So you stagger planting & harvesting, etc. My jalapeno plant last summer was good for about a month I think.

  • Mike the Gardener says on: June 3, 2009 at 1:59 am


    Why would raised bed gardening be illegal? And furthermore it's illegal if you get cuaght right? ;)

    Mike the Gardener

    • nothirdsolution says on: June 3, 2009 at 2:41 am


      It's got nothing to do with Raised-bed vs. any other mode of gardening, and everything to do with special interests bending the law to prevent anyone from competing with them.

      And to your second point, however, I smiled when I read that. Yes, it's only illegal if you get caught. The goal is not to get caught :) cheers!

    • Zach S. says on: June 3, 2009 at 11:59 am


      It's a sad state of affairs to get "Caught" growing food for yourself… I wonder if it'll be illegal to go to upper michigan and pick blueberries or have an apple/pear/orange/cherry/raspberry bushes/etc. in your back yard or on any of your property.

  • freeman says on: June 8, 2009 at 7:01 pm


    Nice work!

    Gardening has become so popular here in Ypsi that most of my peat moss and compost was stolen recently.

  • Mike the Gardener says on: June 8, 2009 at 8:20 pm


    it is a sad state of affairs when you have to pay fines to grow food

  • Mike the Gardener says on: June 8, 2009 at 8:20 pm


    it is a sad state of affairs when you have to pay fines to grow food

no third solution

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