Saturday, March 31, 2012

Constructing a Raised Garden Bed (A Tutorial)

We purchased raised garden bed kits from Home Depot about 3-4 years ago. They were 4 feet by 4 feet and quite expensive at $30 a piece. We spent about $150-200 purchasing all of our dirt supplies (compost, vermiculite, and peat).  Mix those three together and you get a really healthy soil where most plants will flourish.

Fast forward three years where we have not added compost and we want a more cohesive look to the backyard and taller beds to keep out the dogs who have no idea and trample over the garden beds.

We also have a weed filled mess since the garden beds were not too far from a tree and weed paper isn't the greatest barrier apparently. Our oldest graciously offered to assist in the weeding since we wanted to reuse the old soil mixture and add more when completed.

After the first bed was weeded, we unscrewed the lattice on top of the bed and got to work building our new bed which we would pick up and place in the spot of the first garden bed we had just weeded.

For tools we used:
Deck Screws (because it was an outdoor use and we already had them)
My new BABY drill, our Rockwell! I have the Sonicrafter and LOVE it! So far we are also in love with the drill as well.
We also purchased 6 pieces of 8 ft by 12 inch lumber (not treated) from Lowes. We used a coupon and a birthday gift card so we paid about $40 for all of them once it was over.

Two studs were also cut apart into 8  22 inch pieces to use as supports. These we already had that I had purchased for a closet project and had changed my mind on the design and still had them sitting in the garage.

We cut the two of the 8 ft pieces into 4 ft so we could stack them on top of one another.

We had to flip the board and cut from the other side as our saw isn't wide enough and I do not have enough control over our skill saw to use that for this type of work.
We began by cutting some studs into 22 inch pieces (the boards were not really 12 inches. More like 11 1/4 if we were lucky so 22 inch pieces went from top to bottom of two boards together.
We screwed four deck screws into each stud (2 screws into each pieces of wood) through the stud. We also screwed two studs spaced evenly in between the ends so we could make sure it was sturdy. Once we had two sides screwed together in this manner, we too the 4 foot cut pieces and screwed them into the ends of the long boards.
Here is the 3 pieces together. We finished it up and moved out our old garden bed and placed the dirt in our wheel barrow. This allowed us to get the garden bed in place without trying to work around the soil we wanted to keep.
We had three garden beds that were 4 x 4 and had left 4 feet of space in between each one so our total original space was 24 feet and some change (near the propane tank we didn't count).  So when we removed garden bed #1 we ended up with a 12 foot empty space in which to work. Our 8 foot bed fit in nicely.
Pardon my daughter's fashion choices. Once we are home for the evening she gets to pick whatever she wants to wear. Today's outfit was an apple pajama pant, a sunshine pajama top, magenta tights and church shoes. They are old church shoes so I didn't mind.
 We leveled the garden bed with some slate outdoor tiles we had to ensure that when watered the garden it would not all drain to one side. We also laid the old black weed paper in the bottom as we put the dirt back in.
Here is the bed once all three garden bed's were deconstructed and the dirt added to the new garden bed. And yes, the child added a red tutu by this point to complete her look.

You can see here how the garden bed is situated in comparison to where the old beds were. It sits on top of the first bed. See how much room we opened up by condensing into one large 8 by 4 foot bed instead of 3 4x4 beds? The last bed by the propane tank never did well anyway because it was overshadowed by the propane tank and cover. So we really only utilized 2 of the 4x4 beds anyway.
Here is what the garden bed looked like inside before we added the dirt. We raked up some of the pea gravel to help the bed drain and then dumped the soil into the bed.
This is what the old soil from the last 3 years combined looked like before we added any of the new mixture.

Next up, painting the garden bed and refilling with new mixed soil!

Monday, March 19, 2012

March Swagness with Swagbucks! Earn More FREE Gift Cards!

Do you have Swagbucks? If the answer is no, then you need to! We have had a FREE account for about 2 years and LOVE IT! One of the main ways we earn swagbucks is by using their search engine. On average, I earn a $5 gift card to Amazon each month for FREE! Now they have come up with an even faster way to earn swagbucks. It is called March Swagness!

It is all about you earning bonus Swag Bucks while doing all of the things you’re already doing on Swagbucks. Every day they’ll give you an earning goal, which you’ll find on their homepage. As you earn Swag Bucks throughout the day, that meter will fill up and when it’s full, you’ll have earned your bonus for the day. The bonus will always be 10% of that day’s goal. 

Be sure to check in everyday, as the earning goal for any given day could be higher or lower than the day before. Your total bonus amount will continue to accumulate each day, and your bonus amount will be applied at by April 5th – this special promotion runs through April 2nd. If you hit the earning goal every single day of March Swagness, your bonus amount will be doubled!

EVERYTHING you earn on Swagbucks counts towards March Swagness – including (but limited to) Search,SurveysTasks, Swag Codes, Special OffersReferral Bucks, Winning TTPTP, Hashtag and Comment hookups – if you earn it from us, it counts towards the day it was earned!

 Get your March Swagness on starting tomorrow, when the goal will be 50 Swag Bucks!!
 Click HERE if you need to sign up for an account. It is fast, free, and a great way to earn gift cards!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Homemade Cream Chese Wontons

We are trying to eat more plant based at our house. I know cream cheese is not at all plant based but we had not yet made wontons so we wanted to try a fairly simple recipe first. The verdict? We LOVE them!

Step 1: Buy your ingredients:

1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 small package of green onions (green parts chopped)
1 package wonton wrappers
1 small bowl of water
2 cups of oil (we used 1/2 veg and 1/2 olive)
1 small pot to fry

Step 1: combine cream cheese and green onions.

Step 2: lay out wontons and fill each with 1/2 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture.

Step 3: Fold wontons into halves. We experimented with the envelope shape but I didn't like how they fried so we stuck with just folding them in half.

Step 4: Fry in the heated oil for about 30 seconds on each side and drain on a paper towel.

Step 5: EAT!


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