Guide to Building Your Own Garden Boxes

Okay, everyone, it’s finally here – our quick and easy guide to building your own garden boxes 🙂 Mike has put together the very comprehensive plans, with all the necessary parts and measurements, and also created a pdf for downloading, for convenience (you’ll find the link right below here). The instructions are pretty straightforward so there’s no need for a lengthy how-to either – a few short steps and you’ll be done (well, that depends on how many you choose to build…).

To download the pdf, click the following: Garden Box Plan / Ritning OdlingslĂĄda.

The only thing that deserves a heads up is the following: please note that the 4 narrower boards (labeled D and E) for the lip around the top of the box need to be cut at a 45º angle, in order to fit in with each other and create that nice, secure-looking border. When that’s taken care of and you have all the remaining parts on hand, you can start assembling according to the steps below:

  1. Start with the short sides. Grab 2 legs and 3 short side boards, and place the leg piece on the ground. Note that the leg piece is a rectangular shape, with one narrower face and one wider. Attach the boards to the narrower side of the leg (see plan’s “top view without lip”), making sure end of board and leg piece are flush with each other. Then, attach the other leg in the same way to the opposite ends of the boards. You’ll have a tiny piece of leg sticking out at the bottom when you’re done.
  2. Repeat with the 2 other legs and 3 short side pieces.
  3. Moving on to the long boards, attach these to the wider face of the leg (it’s easier to do this if you’re two, where one person can hold everything in place and the other one can deal with the screwdriver). Repeat for the other side. Then, tip the box up. If you don’t want the extra touch in shape of the lip (we think it both looks good and deters slugs from entering), you’re done! For lip, move on to step 4.
  4. Place all the lip pieces in their spots. You’ll have to wiggle around a little, before they fit the way they should. Also, note that the lip sticks out on both inside and outside (see plan “top view with lip”). When they’re positioned, hold one exactly where it should sit and drop the others. Screw it in, and move on to the next one, making sure all remaining lip pieces will fit with its position (it’s worth it, being a little meticulous here). Once the lip is in place, you’re done!

Potentially interesting pieces of information:

  • We painted all parts with Roslagsmahogny (a mix of tar, linseed oil and turpentine) before assembling. While we LOVE the look this gives the boxes, our primary reason behind this was to prolong the lifetime of the material. So far, we’re very happy with the way it came out and the way it has held up, and highly recommend a similar treatment of the wood. Note, however, that untreated (as in, not treated with chemicals) wood should always be used when edible plants are involved.
  • Initially, we wanted to attach a piece of metal (sort of like a ’shoe’) underneath each leg, to minimize contact with the ground and thus prevent rotting. We couldn’t find a suitable product for this, but ended up going all natural – we placed flat rocks underneath each leg, hammered them into the soft ground and then placed the boxes on top. The rocks aren’t visible, and the boxes are more or less not touching the ground at all.
  • We chose to buy a mineral based dirt instead of a peat based (what’s available in bags is usually peat based, so we went bulk), and we made this decision after talking to the technical product manager at Hasselfors Garden (a landscaping and gardening company). From Jeanette, we learned that peat based dirt requires more watering, and will decrease in volume quicker than mineral based (i.e. we would have to refill a lot more). The mineral based dirt in bulk was the more expensive option, but we went this route thinking it would be the smartest in the long run. (Of course, we’re adding compost to the boxes for fertilization purposes.) We couldn’t be happier with the dirt we bought, and it really doesn’t look like it has lost much volume at all after almost a whole year.
  • In the beginning of the season, we use metal support hoops (Swedish: metallbĂĄgar) to attach garden fabric (Swedish: fiberduk), in order to warm up the soil and keep whatever plants are already out there safe from any late cold spells or rough winds. We came across really affordable hoops at Biltema (a large-sized hardware store), and they happened to be the perfect width for our boxes. We use 3 per box, and attach the fabric with clothespins (we twist the corners of the fabric, and pin them to small nails we hammered in underneath the lip, as a point of attachment). Later on, we use cabbage nets over the boxes where it’s needed, until the plants outgrow them, and then we do poles (see picture below) which allow for more space underneath than the hoops.

That’s all from us – we hope that you’ll find this guide useful, of course, and that you’ll get to experience all the joy growing your own food brings. We sure couldn’t be happier with our boxes and the yield we got thanks to them, and can’t wait for this new season to kick off for real. For now, we just have a few small cups of bell pepper and early savoy and pointed cabbage going inside, and a bunch of green curly kale plants hiding underneath the snow outside (still delicious and full of life, though). But in a few months, the whole operation will be up and running again! We’re looking forward to trying our hands at a few new things this year – we’ll be doing corn, parsnips, acorn squash (one of our favorite winter squashes), savoy cabbage and edamame beans for the first time, to name some of them. If there’s interest in a blog post (or posts) on our 2019 growing plan, or maybe some short posts on what we’re doing when (seed starting etc.), please let us know in the comment section and it’ll come right up. If you’re interested in reading all about our inaugural year of growing (that is, 2018), you can do so here: A Garden Year in Review.

Wishing you all a green, greener, greenest 2019. Lots of plant love from us 🙂

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