When we bought our house last September, one of our pressing projects was to build planter boxes. We loved the idea of eating our way through a vegetable garden (fresh, organic, and cheaper than Whole Foods–oh my!) and we had the perfect spot in mind….
The front yard.
Before you ask, “Isn’t there a backyard?” Well, yes, there is, but it’s somewhat sloped and already bursting with specimens of full-grown this, that, and the other thing–(a redwood tree here, a ginkgo tree there, yuccas, a South African Coral tree, ferns, succulents and many more; my mom captured it well when she proclaimed, “It looks like something Dr. Seuss would have designed.”)–that have already laid claim to the land.
Meanwhile, the front yard had this unused space that was just sitting there…looking lonely and desperate for something cool. And we decided cool would be planter boxes.
Yeah, I know. I can already envision (in the very distant future) potential buyers grimacing as they wonder aloud, “Planter boxes in the front yard?” But those won’t be our buyers. Our buyers will say, “Great use of space. And I see the owners have a thing for kale. Let’s offer over the asking price!”
Admittedly, there was some opposition. One family member said we should plant grass. What? We’re in a drought. There was another–completely reasonable–idea posited to build a patio in the front. And we pooh-poohed it explaining there’s already one in the back and we prefer our outdoor living to take place in the backyard where (if the mood strikes us) we can cruise around in our pajamas and unkempt hair, without suffering the stares of the dog walkers (crucial because the mood strikes kinda often). Besides, the front yard gets a surplus of sunshine.
So, in the end, the front yard won! We began the project by clearing the existing bark to level the land and make way for the 4′ x 10′ boxes JB built from redwood.
And when all three boxes were built, we stood back ready to pat each other on the back for work well done…
and we realized the boxes sort of resembled coffins.
But we held strong to our conviction that we had chosen the right spot. And crossed our fingers the boxes would look less creepy when they were filled with dirt and planted with plants. (Spoiler alert: they did.)
Before adding dirt, I laid 4′ x 25′ sheets of hardware cloth over the soil and cut the excess with wire clippers. Note: Hardware cloth does cost more than chicken wire, but is a wise investment if you have gophers. Hardware cloth has smaller holes and thicker wire and, therefore, makes a superior gopher barricade.
The rolls were 4′ wide (as were the boxes) which didn’t allow enough room to run the edges of the cloth slightly up the sides, so I ran the rolls the long way and fastened their ends to the sides of the planter boxes using a staple gun.
I overlapped the hardware cloth in the main body of the boxes and used galvanized wire to sew the overlap shut. (“Body” and “boxes” in one sentence? Total coffin-lingo.)
Now the message was clear: “No vacancy for gophers.”
We ordered, and hauled, (60 wheelbarrow trips from the driveway, no less) potting soil from where it was delivered and dumped to the boxes…many, many, many yards away.
Then we purchased tiny plants…and watched them grow…
It looks like it’s raining sun rays. JB added caps to the boxes so when you are weeding or harvesting and possibly wearing a skirt, or short shorts, or a bathrobe, instead of bending over, you can sit on the sides, and keep your dignity. (Our front yard is perched on a hill.)
I’m so happy we are now the proud owners of planter boxes. In the end, I think it was a great use of space and the excitement of foraging for veggies in our own garden has not lost its charm. But, perhaps my favorite part of having a planter box garden, has been discovering the magical regenerative power of green onions.
My mom deserves the credit. She told me to save the ends of my store-bought green onions and plant them.
And about a week later, the stumpy ends had grown into fresh green onions. Like a lizard’s tail growing back after a cat whacks it off. Only edible. And at least palatable.
How about you, have you tackled any planter boxes lately? Or planted any kale? I’m hoping you’re answering yes so you might be able to answer this question: What do you do when aphids decide to camp out on your kale? I’ve read suggestions online to soak the picked leaves for 20 minutes to an hour in warm water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. I plan to try it but if there’s any better way, I’m all ears. Thanks, in advance!