So earlier this week I managed to come up with some semi-decent plans for a new garden bed that could go where the unsightly mess of an old wood pile used to be. I wanted to use the framework from the structure that used to hold the wood (roughly one foot by ten feet) but I also wanted to find something that would help disguise it since it's a pretty ugly area of the yard...
First I removed all of the old junk that had accumulated behind and around the structure, including three old palates and some cardboard boxes I'd used to plant veggies in this past season...
I had originally planned to use white pine boards for the new beds, but I looked at the prices and realized it would cost me less than 2/3rds of the price to creatively use 4"x1"x8' furring strips instead. They're cheaper, but they're also a little more warped and less carefully milled. Still, it saved me over $25 so I rallied to the challenge.
I laid out the beds, with the back 10'x1' bed being roughly 22" deep. This is the perfect site for square foot gardening. I plan to put 8-10 vertically pruned tomato plants there next year, with some narrow root crops interspersed (carrots, radishes and parsnips). They'll be trellised on the top of the old structure, which I may end up painting white.
The front beds ended up being around 10" deep and 4'x3' in planting area, and I put a base of old planting/potting soil that I'd scraped up from around the farm and composted over the summer. I followed this with a layer of shredded straw and duck manure (which will decompose enough by spring for planting).
After the duck manure I added more finished compost, and a layer of shredded leaves. I had planned to use the shredded leaves everywhere this year, but my ever efficient landlady sent the yard crew over to mower mulch them while we were running errands. I was pretty devastated until my mom pointed out that I work on a horse farm with... well... a forest behind it. There's no shortage of leaves there! I also plant to gather the leaves from the sheep field to shred later this week if we get some non-rainy days.
My final decision was to add a potting bench between the two beds. Unfortunately I ran out of wood and had to leave it as a simple bench for now, but my plan either for this fall or next spring is to add a solid box underneath the bench, and to add hinges on the top of the bench. This will provide storage for summer garden tools and (get this!) I'm going to use it as a cool-season mini root cellar for late fall and early spring!
All in all, this project cost me just under $50, including screws! A great success in my opinion.