The year 2016 was my starter year. The plot in Watkinsville, GA was bare – parts of it literally had no grass. The former owners had not been gardeners, or even lawn growers for that matter. Siting out the location of the garden was no easy task. Would it be all along a fence line? Perhaps it would be better to build a kitty corner triangular plot in the back corner? Would raised beds be better for some plants? Would native soil be better for other plants? Would a water garden attract snakes?
We decide to do what any gardener with self respect does… all of the above! But first we built Kondor’s Garden in the center of the lawn and had a patio installed in front of it with natural stepping stones leading through the grass to our home. Check out my post with a map of the garden’s footprint HERE. Our first task was to install weed fabric over the grass, set up the composite material boxes and add stone. The stones are Indiana pea and are a lovely gray/white with quite a few small fossils. The 7 raised boxes are 42 inches by 84 inches by 8 inches tall and were purchased at Sam’s club for about $250 total for all 7. These beds are a composite material from recycled goods and will not be rotting! Pros: my 10 year old assembled these. It takes less than 5 min to open the box and assemble. They are self explanatory. (there are no directions but I believe the metal clips in the box are for stacking another bed on top to double the thickness). These will not stay level if the ground is not level. I found this to be a positive for me. I do not have the time or $ or man power to level my backyard and needed a bed that could drop an inch from end to end without wobbling. These double square set up beds did the trick. Cons: hard to ship. One box arrived missing most of the contents as the box had broken. SAMs customer service sent a new one that day and fedex came to pick up the busted nearly empty box. Within a few days I had a new bed. Other boxes were damaged but the contents were fine. Another con is that these are easily scratched. I put a few linear feet of mulch between the boxes and the mower. It’s easy to move these around before filling but just as easy to knock them out of being square. I kept a square handy to make sure they were exact before filling.
Once the beds were assembled and the arbor entry added, it was time to mix my soil! Each bed was a combination of peat moss, mushroom compost, cow manure, top soil and Miracle grow garden soil. I also added some vermiculite to each box. The boxes were filled 2/3 with top soil and then the other ingredients filled the boxes and the soil was hand mixed. The photo below is after top soil was added but before the rest of the ingredients were mixed in.
Once the beds were filled, I added an 11 gallon water feature with 2 small goldfish and a solar fountain in the middle fountain. Not to worry, those fish made it and are still with us in 2018, although they have much larger digs (that is a different post).