Thursday, April 12, 2012

GARDEN TUTORIAL: Building a Jardin Potager (Kitchen Garden)

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Find this on my Pinterest GARDENS & LANDSCAPING board.
I've always grown my own herbs, strawberries, tomatoes, and peppers however,  this year, in an attempt to eat more locally grown, "clean" produce, I decided to put build  a small, raised, "jardin potager" this year. However, given that I live in the suburbs, space is limited.  As a part of my research to find the best way to grow enough produce for a family of 4/5 in a small space, I came across several articles for something called  "square foot gardening". The premise is simple: you grow more produce if you plant in "squares" rather than in "rows" so, that's what I'm doing!

My material list:
  • Six Cedar 2"x6"x8' boards (do NOT use treated lumber, the chemicals used to preserve it will leech into your soil and end up in your food!) You only need three if you want a six inch deep box. I want mine to be deep because I want to grow root veggies in part of the box.
  • One Box of 3 inch decking screws (because I want to take it apart at the end of the year to store it in the garage and because I don't want them to rust) or nails.
  • Three Cedar 1"x2"x8' boards (used for bracing and to hold up the chicken wire)
  • Tools: Drill, Square, Level, Screwdriver, Pencil
  • Optional: 1"x1" cedar "dividers", chicken wire, landscaper's cloth, a "fancy cold frame top" that I may build if there's time.
I took my sketch, materials list, and tape measure to Home Depot and had them cut the majority of the lumber for me. They cut it at NO CHARGE!

Assembly is pretty easy. Line up the longest pieces of 2x6 parallel to each other. Put the smaller pieces of 2x6 inside of them. Use your square to make sure that that the corners are at 90 degrees, drill holes, and screw  (or nail) the sides together. To make it easier, I made a template out of an index card marking where I wanted to drill the holes so that all of the corners would be the same.

Since I'm stacking my boxes, I made braces which I installed (screwed in from the inside top and bottom) in the middle of each side on the outside of the box. Here's how it looks today:

The extra pieces on the top will become supports for "climbers" like beans and peas.  Since I'm putting this potager on top of my existing patio, I'm going to line it with plastic and landscape cloth. I'll need to drill a hole to allow for some type of drainage.

I'm also looking into a gravity fed "self watering" system made with a piece of PVC and some mesh which I'll discuss next week when we talk about "filling the box" and the type of growing medium that I'm going to use.

In the mean time, there's still time for you to "catch up" before next Friday if you'd like to "garden along".