Have you seen the price of wood lately?

7 new raised beds waiting for compost

Our little farm looks a little depressing without any plants in it. This day turned out to be the coldest day of the fall season. Wind was the main problem. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have. We are so excited for the 2021 season that we built these beds now. Well that wasn’t the only reason. Even though we used non-treated Douglas Fir these 8″ garden beds, a few 4″x4″x10′ posts to cut down to be used as corner reinforcement, and high quality coated 3″ deck screws cost about $550 including tax. We purchased the materials in November 2020. Our good friends picked them up with their trailer so this price does not include delivery. Home Depot would have delivered for $80 extra. Each bed is 3′ x 16′. It might have made more sense to wait until spring to buy the materials since the wood will be exposed to the elements for no good reason. I plan to order a few tarps to help increase the life of our beds. My main concern with waiting until spring to build beds is that the materials might cost even more. I’ll check back with you in the spring to let you know if it was worth the gamble. I wanted 10″ tall beds but that was too much money. In a few of the beds we will dig down a little before adding compost. Some crops need a little more depth such as tomatoes and carrots. This was a compromise that I think makes sense. We are located in northern Utah, USA for reference. We had a temporary fence around our 2020 garden to keep chickens out. Now the garden is open for them to run around and enrich the soil. We’ll build a more permanent hog panel fence next spring. Here is an image of our garden in August of this year.

This was just after we hung the lights up. We spent many warm and relaxing moments sitting under the stars enjoying our garden. One evening we invited some friends over and roasted yellow squash over the fire pit. Marshmallows are OK now and then but fresh cut squash slices roasted over the fire with our friends and kids under a full moon was a night I will always remember. Don’t get me wrong, if we had marshmallows the kids would have preferred them but we might have missed out on a real treat. Sometimes going without something is an invitation to blessings you weren’t expecting. You might be wondering why we have a blue door leaning against the fence in the image at the top of this page. That is what remains of our last garden from 2013. I couldn’t bring myself to throw that door away so now it’s a decoration. I think bringing elements from old gardens into our new garden will be a fun tradition to adopt. We extended our garden boundaries quite a bit this year but we really enjoyed the process. We harvested about 70 squash from 4 plants this season. Our yellow squash produced much less than our zucchini. I’m really excited to see how our raised beds improve production next year. P.S. that watermelon on the lower left of our 2020 garden image actually ended up spreading out a lot and producing many little watermelons as well as one watermelon with a delicious red center. This plant was added late after we had a few crops fail. I’m glad we tried. What crop did you add as a backup plan that did well for you this year?

UPDATE 1/15/2021 – WE HAVE COMPOST! A big truck just dumped 8 cu. yards of green compost on our driveway. We had a slight miscalculation on the compost footprint. We folded it in half 😉 Since it was such a nice day (low 40’s) Codi and the boys loaded up the new beds. I decided to get it now to avoid any supply issues later in the season. Maybe Covid turned me into a better or more anxious planner. Since it had already been breaking down for a few months in a much larger pile it was still warm. The company I bought it from said they would deliver it the day after I called them and for a good price. I also asked about topsoil for the rest of the yard but that was still frozen.

Compost over 100 F in January! It will be ready when we need it.
Almost full!
We even had extra compost for this Zinnia/Ground Cherry bed as well as the front flower beds. Look at the color difference. We live in the high desert.

In case you were wondering the load cost me $200 delivered from Tuckers in Utah. We’ll be top dressing the beds with chicken manure and a few other soil amendments so the beds aren’t completely full. Plus the compost has settled a bit since January. Our chickens have been wandering all over the beds all winter as well so I’m sure that will add to the soil fertility.

UPDATE 3/15/21 – I decided to look up how much this project would have cost me today and we saved nearly $90 building these in 11/2020. Gardening win! I’m learning that looking ahead to the next season is very important thing to do. This time we saved financially.