The Raised Bed That Wasn’t

One of the disadvantages of this new job is that like most people with normal 9-to-5 schedules, I now have to do my yard work on weekends. I used to work in the yard during the week because trips to the hardware store were much quieter. Now I’m fighting the Saturday morning rush with every other homeowner in the area in an attempt to secure lumber, compost, chicken wire, seedlings and all the other tools needed to start a garden.

Which is what we attempted to do today. Several weeks back Jessica planted about 50 or so different seeds indoors, including tomatoes, beets, carrots and several other herbs and vegetables. We’ve been trying to cultivate a localvore mindset (eating locally-grown food), but this is the first year we own a house and have a yard suitable for a garden.

The soil isn’t very good, though, and the ground is kind of marshy, so we decided the best approach was to build a raised garden. We’re having three yards of rich soil being delivered tomorrow, so we were hoping to build the raised garden today in preparation. After a bit of research, we decided that a 4’ by 8’ raised garden would be the ideal size, wide enough for several rows but narrow enough to reach across without walking on and compressing the soil. Raised gardens also drain better, which was perfect since our yard tends to get soupy during consistently wet weather.

Unfortunately, our plans were foiled in the most unlikely area: lumber. Most sources we consulted seemed to discourage the use of pressure-treated lumber since several toxic materials (like arsenic) are used in the treatment. It’s a controversial topic, but the argument is that some of that toxic material can get washed into the soil and into the vegetables. We didn’t really want to risk using it, but untreated lumber rots pretty quickly, especially when packed against the soil. Recommended alternatives were stone, composite boards or cedar.

We decided on cedar and set out shopping. What we didn’t realize was that cedar is not only very expensive, but also fairly hard to come by. The three places I visited and four places I called all said it needed to be special ordered and one box would end up costing us over $100. Composite boards were also hard to find, and those we did find were far too thin to support the weight of 8’ of dirt.

At the end of the day, we had nothing to show for all our planning and shopping. I think we’re probably going to just use pressure treated wood lined with landscaping tarp. Here’s hoping my son doesn’t grow a second head.

Freewrite #4