The past couple of weekends have been spent on quite the endeavor…an official garden fence. This year I wanted a real fence around the garden for several reasons.
- Even though my yard is fenced in, it might as well not be. The chain link fence keeps nothing out…nothing…not even people. Critters roam at will and I am the deranged psycho gardener who runs after them with a hose or bangs maniacally on the kitchen window in the morning while wearing my PJs, praying they will get the hint and scram before I have to run out there in my fuzzy slippers for all to see.
- Also, I’m marrying a guy with a dog. In spite of the fact that my backyard is a veritable field of open space, she aims for the big dirt hole in the middle of it every time and has trampled newly planted seed beds several times, causing me to freak out like a deranged psycho gardener.
- Last year I had a bunny. This bunny chewed through the reed fencing in several spots and had even dug out a nice little shady cover for himself under the watermelon vines, providing a cute, yet terrifying surprise every time I went to check on the watermelons. I have no idea what the bunny ate in the garden, but it nearly drove me mad that I couldn’t keep him out. One day in the fall I was driving home and noticed a squashed bunny in the middle of the road. That’s one way to keep a rabbit out of your garden.
- And lastly, I really wanted the vegetable garden to be pretty, to look like a garden and not a hairy, overgrown eyesore in the middle of the lawn. A fence that would last for several seasons seemed a practical way to achieve this.
Rob is master of all things involving wood. To say I am lucky to have this talented guy in my life is an understatement because when I say, “Hey, honey, I was thinking we really need to put a fence around the garden” he comes to me with this great idea and a beautiful picture of a “we’re not messing around” cedar fence. The things that kept the price down on this project that could have cost a couple thousand dollars: we did it ourselves (and when I say “we” I mean mostly Rob) and Rob had a supplier for the wood who gave us quality cedar at a price significantly less than Home Depot (whose cedar was shoddy in comparison to what we used).
We had originally planned to rent a post hole digger from Home Depot, but they were out of them when we got there in the morning. So we bought an old fashioned, muscle-powered one and Rob dug the holes…or should I say chipped them out with a chisel. The clay rocks in the yard provided a bit of a challenge in getting the holes dug…all 22 of them. Three hours later, with only one blister to show, Rob started cutting the beams for the posts.
Instead of leveling the entire fence, we made it flow with the slope of the yard and used a string level to keep everything in line. This saved us a lot on material and money.
Each opening was framed with one inch pieces, all individually screwed in. This serves a couple of purposes. One, it keeps the top pieces from bowing. Two, if the wire screen ever needs to be replaced we can unscrew the frame and put a new piece in without ruining the whole fence. We used 1/2 inch galvanized wire fencing which came in 25 foot rolls. We used 4 rolls for the entire fence and it worked out really well! I was concerned about a fence blocking out light for the plants, so the 1/2 inch wire was a great solution and much easier to work with than chicken wire.
Before the fence was entirely completed, I was able to get all my starter veggies that I wasn’t growing from seed: tomatoes, peppers, and a few herbs.
On Saturday, I pulled up the black plastic, put some earbuds in with iTunes set to shuffle, and got down on my hands and knees to do some dirty work. In spite of the black plastic and the fact the garden was tilled twice, grass had still started to grow. Last year was a total weedy nightmare in the first months of growing because all the roots I’d never gotten out of the soil post-till started to sprout a nasty, invasive grass. Due to diligently pulling almost all of that out last year, the former part of the garden is almost entirely grass free. I wanted to start this side out right, so after shuffling around in the dirt with a spade, I was able to achieve a weed-free plot…for one day at least.
Last year, I got a ton of food out of a tiny space, but everything was terribly cramped and very hard to get to. This year, the volume is about the same, but the plants are more spread out and there are paths where I can actually walk in the garden instead of needing a machete to reach a zucchini. I used bamboo to plan everything out and laid the plants and seed packets in their new property lines.
The damage done includes: 16 tomato plants, 16 cucumber plants, 15 squash plants, basil, dragon tongue beans, snow peas, 12 pepper plants, asparagus, and beets…and I think all of them have room to breathe. We shall see!
The last piece to add was the gate. Rob put this thing together in no time and made it look like a little country cottage garden gate. I love it!!!
When you walk around the back of the gate, there is a design only true Harry Potter fans can appreciate. My little nerd heart will smile every time I see that. It’s really only 2 1/2 hallows, but who’s getting technical here?
The finished product (filtered). I’m so thrilled I can hardly stand it! There is even a raised bed around the apple trees. I’m thinking about planting some strawberries in there if I can get all the grass properly taken care of. I hope this space will help us create a sustainable influx of produce and healthy things throughout the year. I also hope we will have enough surplus to share with friends. People talk about putting down roots when they live somewhere, and these are some literal roots I’m planting in this soil even if my real roots (and my heart) are in New York. There’s nothing like a garden to make a place feel a bit more like home.