New Boxes from Old Fences!

I sighed.  Then I sighed again. Louder.

“What’s the matter?” dearest husband asked.

“Everyone has a garden but me. I miss having a garden”, I whined pouted said.

“But we can’t have a garden, remember?”

This has been the general conversation around our house for the last month or so.  Every blog I read is gushing over with pictures of happy little seedlings peaking out of the ground, questions about whether the frost is finally over, and even those in the South who are already harvesting.


I grew some wonderful melons last year!

I’m jealous.  I had a garden last year and it was wonderful!  I had a bumper crop of tomatoes and peppers, my black turtle beans did very well and I still have some green beans left in my freezer!  My grandson and I had a beautiful crop of sunflower seeds that were at least 15 feet tall when all was said and done, with heads a foot across!  I harvested some beets and a few misshaped carrots.  I dealt with squash mosaic virus and ended up losing all of my zucchini plants to that dreaded disease – lessons learned.  And the corn?  Well, lets just say that it looked great, but I didn’t stagger my harvest so we only ate fresh corn for a couple of weeks. That’s okay – I froze the rest.  My greatest pleasure was when my grandchildren came over to help.  And also my first ever purple potato harvest! This year I still have remnants of last year’s garden with volunteer tomato, bean and sunflower plants.  I potted up some of the tomatoes, but without garden space, the beans and sunflowers will just have to be tilled under for the sod.  Sigh.

I had a beautiful bumper crop of anaheim chile plants last year.

I had a beautiful bumper crop of anaheim chile plants last year.

I miss gardening.  But, we are preparing our home to sell (so we can move up to our future homestead – hooray!) and the real estate professionals say that gardens do not sell houses, pretty, green, un-ecological, water-wasting, nitrogen eating lawns do.  So, last year’s garden will soon be a sea of green sod.  Sigh.

But, my husband loves me – yes he does!  Last month he replaced one of our fences and still had most of the boards piled in a corner.  So, do you know what that sweetheart did?  He built me some raised boxes out of the old fence boards and set up an automatic irrigation system to boot up on our future homestead!  Did I tell you I have the best husband in the world?

Salvaged raised bed boxes

The old fence had seen better days, but we were going to give it a new life!

The boards are cedar and they are still in fairly good shape.  The 2×4 rails, however, had seen better days. But we picked through and found the best ones to build the boxes with. Ray decided to make the boxes two boards high, or about 12″ tall.  He used the 2 x 4’s as stakes and support, while the boards made the sides.  When all of the pieces were assembled, Ray cut the pieces and parts on the tailgate of his pick-up truck.  We decided to go with a 2′ x 5′ planting bed simply because after trimming all the rotten and split wood off the boards, this is the largest bed we could have!

Raised Garden Boxes out of Salvaged Wood

The ground is hard clay, which is another reason to build raised boxes for the vegetable garden. We were able to save that beautiful wild iris in the middle of the picture!

Once the raised box pieces and parts were cut, we needed to dig a bit of a hole in the dirt where each 2 x 4 post was going to go, fill it with water to soak into the clay soil, then dig a few more inches.  Whew – that was the hardest part!  Once the ground had softened a bit, Ray pounded the 2 x 4 posts into the ground until they were good and solid (he had cut a V in the bottom of each post).  Well, maybe that was the hardest part.

Then came time to screw the boards into the 2 x 4 posts.  A few of the boards cracked a little, but they generally held up good and solid, and so the boxes were done!

Now Ray set up an automatic watering system because, sadly, we can’t be up on our future homestead all of the time.  When we had the garden in our backyard last year we used a watering system that took advantage of the risers from our previous lawn’s sprinklers (which will now be converted back to lawn sprinklers).

Raised box automatic watering gardening system

Here is the CIA (Central Irrigation Apparatus) of our watering system.

This watering “outlet hub” screwed into the risers and had eight ports  to which the watering lines are attached.  Ray knew this would work well and he patterned our new system much like our gravity fed system we have worked out for our orchard, with an automatic timer.  The hub was placed on a wooden stake to keep it upright, which was right smack dab in the middle of the boxes he built.  He then cut the water lines to the lengths needed to reach the center of each planting box and attached them to the hub.  The timer was hooked up to the spigot at the bottom of one of our 1,100 gallon water storage tanks and was set to run 15 minutes every morning.

The first test didn’t go so well.  At first all eight water lines had water coming out the ends, then a couple lines sputtered and a few stopped water flow completely.  Ray detatched the water hose from under the hub and discovered that ants had set up a nest in the hose, and had caused a blockage in the hub system!  Ugh.  After that was cleared we tried again.  Perfect!

I filled the boxes with some purchased organic garden soil, some native clay soil, and some of our lovely compost, planted the volunteer tomatoes and watered them in.  It’s a good thing we got them transplanted because their roots were coming out of the bottom of the hole in the pot and a few got torn during the transplant!  Because of this, I was worried that they might wilt, so I gave them an extra dose of water. It will be fun to see which type of tomatoes these turn out to be. Last year I grew 4 different types of tomatoes, from yellow and red heirlooms to some really good sweet-as-candy grape tomatoes.

Old Fence becomes Planter Boxes

The tomatoes finally have a home where they can spread their roots! 😉

The next morning I checked on them and – sure nuf – they had been watered by the automatic system (yes!) and they were not wilted at all (double yes!).   Next week I will get some more plants for the other boxes Ray built – maybe peppers – although it might be a bit late for this season.  But, at least the boxes will be ready for a fall crop!  🙂

So now I have a vegetable garden afterall, even if it’s just a couple of tomato plants!  I may not get to see it but once every other week or so.  Yeah – I may even end up with a lot of rotten tomatoes because I won’t be there to pick them every day.  But at least I have a garden now.

I just wish I could be there every day to tend to it!  Sigh.

While I can’t garden every day, perhaps I can live vicariously through YOUR garden!  So – please tell me – how does your garden grow?

Our Three Peas
Green Thumb Thursday




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