Pinched Stoneware Paperweight
by Linda Starr
by Linda Starr
When we moved here there was a big corral behind the barn. Since we weren't going to raise cows or horses, we decided to tear down the corral and re purpose the lumber into raised vegetables bins. The lumber for the corral was full cut and untreated, perfect for the bins. First we removed the boards, that part was easy. Then we had to remove the nails which held the boards to the posts. They were 3 and 4 inch nails that had been in the boards for quite some time. There was a whole lot of prying and hammering for many a moon removing those nails.
Anti Cribbing or Wood chewing Nails
Not knowing much about horses, I had never heard of anti cribbing or anti wood chewing nails. Let me tell you they are a pain in the neck to get rid of. Apparently little nails are hammered part way into the tops of the boards to prevent the horses from chewing on the wood. If you want to re-use the lumber you have to either remove the nails or hammer them in.
broccoli and Brussels sprouts
Then I drew up a plan for the bins and chose a fairly level spot which gets morning and afternoon sun. Which is between my studio and my storage/potting shed. I decided to make the bins 34 inches wide, a little less than three feet wide because my aviary wire comes in three foot sections. We had more than 20 boards that were 8 inches by 18 to 20 feet long and were in the best shape, so we were able to make five bins 16 inches tall. We used the cracked and warped boards for the ends of the bins. We used the posts on the inside corners of the bins to strengthen them. We also made three smaller bins 8 inches tall and 6 feet long. That gave us plenty of space to grow lots of vegetables and I planted flowers in the first bin near the studio. A year or two later I planted dahlias in two more bins and I still have enough room to grow the vegetables I want.
Swiss chard, lettuce, and spinach
I rolled out a section of aviary wire 14 feet long and then we built the bin on top of the aviary wire. We used the aviary wire on the bottom of each bin to keep the gophers from coming up into the bins from below. After we built one bin, we took our tractor and filled the bin with native soil mixed with compost all the way up to the top of the bin. We knew the soil would settle after we watered it in.
Then we moved on to building the next bin. Filling the bins as we built them meant we could use the tractor to move the soil instead of hand shoveling the dirt into the bins. We left about 4 feet between the bins, enough room to comfortably get a wheelbarrow down the aisle. We also put ground cover cloth between the bins and spread 1/4 inch minus chip rock between the bins to keep it neat looking. I like chip rock much better than pea gravel because it doesn't roll under your feet when you walk on it.
raised vegetable bins
After we got the soil well watered, I rolled out a good quality ground cover cloth over the top of the soil and tacked it down with landscape staples. I cut two rows of criss cross holes in the ground cover cloth every two feet to put my vegetable plants in. Then I shook buckets of bark on top of the cloth. The cloth helps prevent weed seeds from germinating and the bark helps keep moisture in the soil. Both allow water and air to penetrate to the soil.
So far this year I planted spinach, red Swiss chard, lettuce, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. I decided not to plant any warm season vegetables like tomatoes or peppers until after April 15 because last year we had a late frost and my tomatoes and peppers were frozen back to the stems and it took them forever to recover. Thanks goodness I delayed planting tomatoes and peppers this year, we had late Spring frost last night.
Above is my potting/storage shed where I can start seeds and store my tools. I planted two antique roses on either side of the door to shade the building in summer. They are Devonesis and Madam Alfred Carriere, both fragrant climbers. I attached a lean to, to the side of the storage shed as a potting area. It has a tin roof and the sides are covered with beige shade cloth. Since the potting shed faces east in the summer it remains relatively cool there in the afternoon. Have a good weekend.