The Garden, Phase I, As it Lived and Died…..And Will Live Again!

When last I left you, fair readers, I had cleaned out a good portion of the large garden plot that we were going to use for veggies and was headed to the local lumber yard to make the beautiful garden boxes featured in The All New Square-Foot Gardening book that shows us that you CAN plant a garden in small or reasonably sized spaces.

Step One: The following Monday morning, I went to my local hardware store/lumber yard and purchased all of the wood that I would need, which I had painstakingly measured out TO THE INCH. Got my screws and nails, my plywood bottom for the box that was going on the deck and then headed to my second hardware store of the day.  Why? Because I had decided I wanted to put a trellis along the back of the garage where the big planter box would be, to use as a way for our climbing veggies (beans, peas, cukes, peppers to some extent) that would look real purty.  My local store did not have trellis wood, so off to Menards I went.

Step Two: Menards.  Now, if you’ve ever been to Menards, you know that the people who work there (inside the store) are helpful, IF YOU CAN EVER FIND ONE! I pretty quickly located the trellis piece that I wanted, but of course, in order to buy said piece of wood, I needed to find a sales associate and get him to ring me up.  That took approximately 2 hours.

Once you pay, the real fun begins, as you get to drive around the back of the Menards to the fenced in, Nazi-guarded lumberyard where you have to show your receipt at various checkpoints while the guards scream “Where are your papers?” (Okay, this may be a slight embellishment, but roll with it.)  After about 40 minutes, I found a guy to try and help me find where my trellis was located so I could put it into the car and drive happily off to home where I would start the next step of my project — assembly.  As the guy brought the trellis around, I realized, “oh holy shit, I have a problem.” There was NO WAY that I was getting the trellis into my car, even with the seats down in the hatchback portion.  Shit, shit, shit!

A light bulb went on in my head and I realized that I was at Menards! All I had to do was ask this lovely man to chop it down for me a bit. I mean, I am in the lumber section, that should be ridiculously easy to do, no? No. It was not. As I was informed by my sales associate/Nazi guard, this is Menards — they don’t have saws in the lumber section.  Of course not, what was I thinking? I then told the guy that if he could not cut it down for me, he was going to have to restock it and I would have to come back another day with a friend who has a truck so I could get my trellis.  Well, all of a sudden I must have said something to him that was akin to threatening to firebomb the place, as he raced off muttering something about a power saw. Moments later, he returned with a power saw and happily chopped my trellis down into 3 manageable sizes that I was able to get into the car.  Hmmmm, remember this for the future, readers — if you threaten to buy something at Menards and then leave it there for a few days to come back for it, they will do anything they need to do to get you out the door with your lumber — they do not want their precious inventory system messed up.  Finally, with my trellis loaded up in the car, I only had 4 border checkpoints to clear before I was headed home to start building!

Step Three:  HOME! I finally arrived home, unloaded all of my various lumber parts from the car and dropped them into the deck where construction would shortly begin.  At this point, I had been away from home for what felt like days, so I took an all-important lunch break before starting in on the assembly. THIS was my lumber, all in car-sized pieces, just waiting to be worked on.

I decided to first assemble the 4×4 box that would be placed onto the deck for the purpose of growing certain leafy and low-climbing veggies, mostly lettuce and chard.  After much hammering, nailing, screwing with the drill, waiting for the drill to charge again (WHO puts that drill away every goddamn time without charging it? Not me.), and realizing that I attached the wrong side 3 and had to dessemble and re-assemble, I had created a LOVELY, 4×4 box, just waiting for dirt to be tossed in and plants lovingly planted.

Once built, I decided to put the box at one corner of our deck so that it was out of the way and yet could make the deck look pretty.

Now that the 4×4 box was assembled, it was time for me to start in on the 34″x125″ box outline that was going to go in the large plot by the garage.  Now, since I don’t have an XLT pickup truck in the city, I had to have my 125″ sections of lumber cut down into 3 manageable pieces that I would then later link together with these lovely little brackets that cost $0.06 at Menards. Another 2 hours of swearing, sweating, assembling, waiting for the drill to charge, fighting with the wood and brackets, and going back to the store to get more wood screws later, I had assembled the box and gotten it into the garden plot.  Now, when you look at this picture, keep in mind, we had done no planting and it had yet to become truly beautiful.

My last step of the day’s project was to load dirt into the deck box and then the planting would start the following day.  Time for a cocktail and much-deserved night of Dancing with the Stars (gotta root for Hines Ward!)

The shitstorm with respect to this little garden project of mine occurred the following morning, when I went outside and there was a note on my LOVELY garden box from my landlord demanding a phone call from whoever was responsible for this project.  Oh great, I can only imagine what HE wanted to say about this. Keep in mind, that every time anybody ever asked him to do something in the yard, his stock answer is “it’s your yard, you guys do what you want, I do not want to get involved with any of it.”

During this 30 minute phone call, I was advised by my landlord that he did not like the look of the deck box, that it was an “eyesore” and that he wanted it moved.  Ironically, the wooden fence that is falling down and the half-dead yard of grass that he never mows is somehow NOT an eyesore, but my plants are. Despite my reminding him that I have planted in plastic containers every single year on the deck for 7 years, and that this is actually a more sustainable and pretty looking endeavor, he stood firm.  I offered to move it to the cement driveway along the fence, where the plants would still get plenty of sun, and was advised in no uncertain terms that it was an unacceptable idea as the dirt would stain the concrete.  Um, no.  He literally told me I was “to put the project on hold until he thought up a different way of doing it.” Oh, I don’t think so. I’ll show you! You want multiple plastic containers on the deck instead of 1 pretty box?  Well, fine.  Careful what you wish for!

The LL then also advised me that the wood box in the ground-garden plot was also an eyesore and that I should stain it (doesn’t matter that staining the wood will harm the soil for planting veggies) and that I have to put plastic down under the dirt to protect the bricks that comprise the garage so that the bricks are not “ruined” when we water the plants.  Now, I’ve planted here for 7 years and never had to lay plastic, nor do I water bricks.  Nor, to my knowledge, does anybody else in the building.  I asked LL what happens to the bricks when it rains and why the garage is not wrapped in plastic on those days, but I do not think he appreciated my obvious logic.

After this conversation, my hackles up, I made Patrick help me load the deck box into the back of my car and I promptly drove it over to my mom’s house, where she let me put it on HER deck.  Note: her neighbor saw me unloading the deck box from the car, and came over to compliment me on it’s construction and quality — he’s a landscape architect! I was validated — a normal, non-crazy person actually liked my deck box!  When I returned home, the LL was there, all sheepish about the conversation in the morning and convinced we could come to a workable solution. But where is the box? “Oh, no, LL, don’t you worry about that — I resolved the issue myself!” The box is getting some TLC at mom’s house and I’ll still benefit from what we plant in there.  I told him I would lay the plastic along the back of the bricks, even though his requirement lacked all logic and sense, and that I would use my plastic containers again.

Phase II of the garden saga will be posted separately, and in short order…..stay tuned !

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2 thoughts on “The Garden, Phase I, As it Lived and Died…..And Will Live Again!

    1. I agree, Tina, that the boxes look great! And with the plants going strong they look that much better. But then again, the LL is a total whack job, so I take it with a grain of salt. The prize of the lumberyard, my stand alone box, looks great at my parents house. When we move, we will just reclaim it. And BTW, our beans are going gangbusters. I planted seeds less than 2 weeks ago and the beans are now over 2″ tall!

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