First signs of spring . . . and winter

On Saturday it felt like spring and the camellias in our jungle were blooming.  

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And I was starting to feel pressure to get our garden up and running–this handy calendar we downloaded from the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension was telling to us to start planting NOW. “We have three optimal growing seasons: spring, summer, and fall.”, it says. The first cool-weather veggies should be in the ground at the beginning or middle of February . . . which apparently is spring.  Or at least felt like spring on Saturday.

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“Wake up and get to work!”, says Sasso. “Don’t miss out on this beautiful sunshine! Also, FEED ME.”

After much Internet research, we settled on building our garden beds out of cedar.  This is something everyone else already knew we should do, I realize, but please bear with us while we recreate the wheel.  After a little bit of poking around, we amassed a decent-sized cedar collection:

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The long wide boards in the front are cedar fence posts sold by Home Depot for $2.55 a piece.  The wide boards on the right in the back are pieces of wood we found (free!) stacked under our house that appear to be leftover pieces of our house’s siding, and that we sincerely hope, for a couple of reasons, are cedar.  And the medium-width and thin pieces on the left in the back are “seconds” (flawed boards) from the ReUse Warehouse in Durham ($28 for the lot).  So we got a fair amount of cedar lumber (of three different species, I think) for a reasonable price.

We didn’t have much luck finding cedar lumber thicker than an inch, though, so we’re a little concerned about our ability to make our garden beds structurally sound.  Borrowing an idea from Scott’s father, we started building frames out of 1 x 2 lumber (the 1-inch thick part was definitely not Chuck’s idea, but at least the boards really are 1″ x 2″, not 3/4″ by 1 1/2″) to which we will attach the wider boards vertically instead of horizontally.  We’ll have some left over lumber we can reinforce the beds with later if they seem rickety.

Since our whole lot is on a hill, the construction of the frames took some ingenuity.  Tip: If you are ever going to approach a project like this, keep in mind that it is helpful to have a scientist husband around to quickly calculate angles and hypotenuses and other things I haven’t studied since 10th grade. Here are the frames so far:

Oh, yeah . . . then it snowed.  Winter came roaring in with a vengeance yesterday afternoon.  I’d say it came roaring back, but, although it’s been a gloriously snake- and tick-free few months, it hasn’t snowed or even really dropped below freezing much and has, in general, been far too comfortable to be winter.

But since it’s supposed to be winter all week (with temperatures as low as zero!!! almost unheard of in North Carolina!), this project is on hold for a while.  At least there are definite advantages to snow days, such as spending your day with a mug full of hot coffee blogging instead of working.

And, if you’re a dog, you might find the snow itself appealing.

Oh, okay, I suppose I can admit that I find the snow appealing as well . . .

. . . even if I am a little annoyed that it is forcing me not to charge full-speed ahead with the garden boxes during a week when I actually expect to have free time.

Thanks to my father-in-law Chuck for being on-call garden-bed construction support and to my friend Diane for researching and making suggestions about what types of plants we are most likely to be able to grow on our shady lot.

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One thought on “First signs of spring . . . and winter

  1. Pingback: Little green plantlings and hope | The North Carolina Project

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