Intro: Grow Vegetables in Your Backyard
This post will show you how to make your own plantar boxes and fill them with good organic soil, all on the cheap!
I've always wanted to grow my own food, and this summer Im actually starting! The first day after I got home from school my dad and I went to Home Depot and got some pressure treated lumber to build a couple plantar boxes for our backyard. We decided on boxes that were 6 feet long, 2 feet deep, and 1 foot high, all made out of 2x12 lumber.
This size made buying the wood nice too because we could just get two 12 foot lengths to make all four 6 foot pieces, and then one 8 foot piece to make the four 2 foot side pieces. We also got one 8 foot 2x4 to use as bracing material for the corners. All of the wood cost about 90 dollars.
Once we had the wood, we started construction!
Apparently using pressure treated lumber is NOT A GOOD IDEA for plantar boxes and gardening. The chemicals used in the pressure treating process leach into the soil, and then the plants, and then your body when you eat your veggies! Use redwood or cedar wood instead, and these woods are also naturally rot-resistant so thats a plus.
Thank you so much to all the users who posted comments voicing their concerns! One user also pointed out that people freak out about things like this, but at the same time might not think twice about drinking a diet Coke, even though it contains carcinogenic chemicals and other nasty stuff... Like everything else in life, it is up to you to weigh the risks. But, just to be safe, if you have the option, I would suggest using redwood or cedar :)
Thanks again everyone!
Step 1: Build the Plantar Boxes
Like I said, we cut the two 12 foot boards in half to get four 6 foot pieces. We cut the 8 foot piece into quarters to get four 2 foot pieces. We then cut the 2x4 into eight 8 inch chunks for the corner braces. All cuts were made with our radial arm saw.
Assembly was very simple compared to a lot of our woodworking projects. We used a countersinking pilot drill bit to make 2 screw holes per joint, and then used either 8's or 10's wood screws. We had both boxes assembled in under an hour.
Next we moved the boxes into the backyard to figure out placement. Remember, most vegetables need a ton of sun (at least 6 hours a day) so keep this in mind when deciding where to put them! These boxes do not have bottoms, so once they are filled with dirt, they aren't really able to move anywhere...
Once we were happy with the placement, it was time to do some dirt research.
Step 2: Buy Soil in Bulk
Since our family will actually be eating the things we are growing (as apposed to planting flowers), we thought it was important to have really good, healthy, organic soil, without any bad stuff in it like fertilizer or other things. We found a great soil at this wholesale yard supplier that we could buy in bulk. If we picked it up ourselves, it was only 25 dollars for a whole yard! A yard of dirt is a lot of dirt. It's 27 cubic feet, so imagine 27 painter's buckets filled to the brim with dirt. Its a lot of dirt, so this was a great deal.
The volume of each plantar box is 6x2x1 = 12 cubic feet, so we needed 24 cubic feet minimum. So, we decided to get a full yard so we would have some leftover.
The only problem was we had to get it and transport it ourselves. We dont own a pickup truck, so I had to cover the back section of our minivan with a tarp so we could pile dirt in and drive with it. I used zip ties to attach the grommets on the tarp to seat belts and headrests in the van, and it actually worked pretty well! We managed to shovel in about a yard of dirt, drive home with it, and shovel it all out without getting any dirt in the carpets or seats!
Using a wheelbarrow, we transported the dirt from the driveway to the backyard and dumped it into our plantar boxes.
Step 3: Plant Veggies!
Step 4: Install Drip Lines, or Water by Hand Everyday
For starters anyway, we are just watering our veggies by hand every day. Since the boxes are on the lawn, they also get some water from the lawn sprinklers. In the future it would probably be a good idea to instal drip lines in the boxes though so they get watered regularly (without us having to do any work).
Step 5: Wait for Growth!
It has been about a week since we planted our veggies and we can already see some development! Just remember to keep watering!