We replaced three old beds yesterday! We’ve had three eight foot beds on the left side of the veg garden for about five years. The wood was recycled to begin with, sat in the back of our rental for three seasons, and was then walked down the alley and placed in our yard for five more. It’s been dying for three years now, but I wrangled one more year from them last season, promising myself that we would rebuild in the spring. They needed to go. Not only were they broken, but they were also two feet too short. The coop always perched on the edges, rather than firmly on the corners; the cold frame of old windows was two feet too long for the beds; the movable trellises did not fit. I was ready to make a change.
Our local, independent lumber store sells cedar planks in the spring—1x16, which they will cut down to size. We decided to use the cedar, rather than fir, when we realized that it would last at least three times as long—just about the difference in price. I dug through the pile for six, and had them cut ten, four, and two feet, so that each plank became half a bed (which some left over for the new bed out front). The Ark smelled of fresh cut cedar as I drove carefully home, which plank reaching over the passenger seat for company. While I was gone, Mark cut up a couple of old pressure treated four by fours which had been fence posts. Each post gave us six one foot blocks to attach to the boards for added strength in the corners. I moved the wood into the back yard and the project began.
First, we had to dismantle the old beds. The trickiest bit was moving a 18 foot long trellis than spans the entire south side of the garden, linking the beds together visually. It swayed and dipped as we carried over to lean against the neighbor’s garage. Once that was out of the way, Mark unscrewed one bed at a time to keep the chickens from tossing soil all over the back yard. When the boards were loose (mostly) I piled up the rotten boards near the chipper and dug out a little bit of the garden soil along the edges. Mark attached 4x4 posts to the long sides. We brought the boards into the garden, laid them out, and screwed on the shorter ends. Mark moved onto dismantling the next bed as I pushed and prodded the new form into alignment. Chickens had a field day eating exposed bugs and worms. I spread the garden soil into the entire bed so that it would not be kicked out.
The whole process moved much more quickly than we expected. We were reattaching the trellis that surrounds the entire space about three hours after we began. The two small cabbages that were sitting under a milk crate to protect them from critters made it through the entire process unscathed, but will be eaten this week for dinner.
|Sunny Day Chicken|