When I saw the little bastard, I yelped, grabbed the baby, and ran inside as fast as my cankles would carry me. From inside my living room window, I kept an eye on the snake to make sure he wasn't up to something. Eventually a bird scared the intruder away, and I haven't seen him since. Yet, I know he's still out there lurking in the depths of my yard, making snake babies, and waiting to do the devil's work.
My fear of the terrifying six-inch beast almost prevented me from venturing out into the yard for the rest of the weekend. Yet, I overcame my fear, and sent Eric out to scan the area for anything laking a backbone before venturing out myself.
Yesterday, I braved the snakes to build our raised bed for this summer's vegetable garden. We're doing a raised bed because it's a bit less work than a traditional garden and because we have a tiny yard.
One could easily make a raised bed from scratch using some wood and nails, but since we're not the handiest of people, we chose to go with a kit.
Our kit is only a 4 by 4 ft bed. If our experiment is a success, we'll add a second next spring.
They sell both plastic and cedar kits. We went with the cedar, even though it's more expensive at around $60, because it looks and smells nicer than plastic. The one we chose came with a trellis to help along beans and other climbing plants.
First, we had to choose a location. Vegetable gardens need a lot of sunlight and good drainage, so we chose a relatively flat area of our lawn that gets almost constant sunlight. The area we selected also had very little grass, so that was a bonus too.
It's recommended that vegetable gardens face south to get the maxim amount of sunlight, so we took that into consideration as well.
Once we settled on a spot, we marked off a 4 by 4 ft section of lawn using some long nails and twine. We had to readjust the nails a bit after our first measurements to make sure everything was straight.
Then, we went to work digging. We dug down about a foot, (although it was recommended that we dig down about 16 inches...oops.) loosening and turning the soil as we went. Madeline helped pick out any clumps of weeds, grass, or large rocks we came across. I must say, she was not a fan of getting her hands dirty though. She kept saying, "Ewww! Mess."
Our lawn is slightly sloped, so we dug a three-inch trench in the higher ground to sink one side of the frame into. It's hard to see in the picture, but the back side of the bed is about three inches below the earth to ensure that the frame is level.
Once the frame was in place, Eric pounded some metal posts into each corner to secure it. Meanwhile, I filled any gaps between the wood and the ground with excess dirt. Then we raked the soil once more to level the area.
Along with being anti snake, I'm also anti mole, so we placed some some woven wire cloth along the bottom of the bed in an attempt to prevent attacks from below. Eric used some u-shaped nails (fencing staples maybe?) to attach the wire firmly in place.
At this point, Madeline decided she was bored and decided to take Elmo for a walk. I had no choice but to follow because she got about a full house length away before I could catch up to her.
I assume everything went smoothly for Eric because when we got back, the garden looked like this, and he was busy putting the trellis together.
Madeline helped me haul some dirt from the truck, (I know, gal's got some brawn!) and I got to work filling the frame. We ended up using four giant bags of soil. We have a fifth bag that we plan on using to top everything off when we start planting the vegetables.
(Madeline is hoping to grow an Elmo bush.)
Finally, Eric nailed the trellis to the frame. We made sure we placed the trellis on the north-ish side of our south-ish-facing bed so that it does not cast a shadow over the smaller plants. Meanwhile, I finished up by once more raking and leveling the soil.
Ta-Da! We're a bunch of dirt farmers! Sometime in our near future, we'll actually add some veggies to that slab of dirt. I can almost smell the fresh tomatoes in anticipation!
I think just to be safe, I'll also put up a "No Snakes Allowed!" sign.