Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Harry's Green Thumb

Remember when I said I'd be better at blogging this year?  Ugh, sorry.  The weeks and weekends have taken their toll and the projects I've wanted to complete have taken much longer than expected due to car failure, late nights at work, race weekends, and a dirty dog.  I thought I'd share a project I've been working on for over a month now, which is getting my roof deck spruced up for summer.

This year I'm hoping to borrow my sister's green thumb in my quest for an urban roof deck vegetable garden.  The major project in this endeavor was finding cheap planter boxes that were big enough for veggies but not so big that they'd leave me without deck real estate.  No such thing exists.  So I opted to build my own by modifying a tutorial I saw on one of my favorite "girl power" blogs, Shanty2Chic.

My first step was to buy and cut a lot of wood.  Luckily, I made a friend in the wood department of Lowes and he cut all my wood for free.  Did you know they're starting to charge per cut?  Where am I supposed to keep power tools in our bitty place?  My purchase consisted of six or so 1x3 furring strips and a 2x2.

I modified the Shanty2Chic tutorial so that my length and width were bigger to accommodate the deck.  I also added another furring strip to the top, which increased the length of my inside pieces.  Essentially I cut 10 pieces at 36" for the sides and 10 pieces at 20" for the ends.  I needed more room for roots, and adding the extra strip got me right to 12" depth.  My 2x2 was cut to be 12" each instead of the 9.5" recommended in the tutorial.

My process began by making the shorter ends, stacking the furring strips and screwing them into my inner strips.  I used some wood glue but I lack the patience and the clamps to let it dry in place, and screwed on top of the glue.  Once I had two ends, I attached the longer sides in the same manner.  Harry was not a fan of the drill, and watched cautiously from afar, either on the couch or in the middle of the staircase.

The plywood base wasn't bought until after I had the rectangles put together.  I wasn't sure of what my measurements would be so I measured the length and width of my boxes after they were built and visited my woodcutter friend at Lowes with my measurements.   I used wood glue around the entire perimeter of the base and then screwed it into the four corners into the 2x2s.  Then I kept it out to dry overnight.

Here we are with our finished boxes ready to be stained, Harry rocking a hoodie to cope with the windy weather that comes with a roofdeck in March (like I said this was a long project).  My goal was to stain the boxes and paint some garden/flower related song lyrics over the stain.  I needed it to be water proof so that the boxes wouldn't rot after one planting season.  My solution was an all in one exterior wood stain & sealant.

The boxes only required one coat of stain, so I had plenty of stain for two boxes and then some.  I stained both the inside and the outside, so that my inner box would be water resistant to sustain daily watering.  I thought about using some wood filler in-between the slats, but decided that the landscape fabric was enough to keep the boxes tidy.

Then for a while, I spent a good amount of time painting the outside of the boxes with my lyrical quotations.  I whipped out the acrylics from college and some leftover paint from the second bedroom paint job.  My lyrical choices were from Everclear's "I Will Buy You a New Life" and Alice in Wonderland's "Golden Afternoon"....I thought they were appropriate for gardening.
After everything was dry I drilled some drainage holes in the bottom of each box (you can see above).  I also drilled holes on the sides about 6-7 inches apart to create rope handles for transporting the boxes just in case we need to move them around for deck gatherings.  Had I the patience and skill I would have put casters on the bottoms so I could roll them around the deck.  Maybe next year.
The bottom of the boxes I filled with gravel, to allow for another level of drainage.  I covered this with landscaping fabric before I filled my box with potting soil.  It took me another week or so to even purchase my plants, and even after that I was nervous to plant them for fear that I would do it wrong or kill them immediately.

Once I got it together, I planted two tomato plants, two crookneck squash, 2 red peppers, 2 green peppers, and 2 eggplants.  The rest of my gardening endeavors are via container/pot and I started my own version of a vertical garden using an IKEA shelf I got for $20 and spray painted with rust preventative clear spray paint.  Time will tell if I have green thumb skills, but hopefully all this effort reaps plentiful rewards.  Regardless, Harry thoroughly enjoyed his time on the deck as you can see by his huge cheesing smile.

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