Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Easy DIY Raised Garden Bed Tutorial

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the photos I posted of the raised garden beds I built a few weeks ago.  They were so easy to build and I absolutely love how they turned out!  

A Few Notes:
1.  The finished size of my beds is 3'x6'.  This was a manageable size for me since the space where the beds are located is very narrow and I can only access each bed from one size.
2.  I used cedar lumber for my beds.  You don't want to use any treated wood because you don't want the chemicals to leach out into your soil  and into your vegetable garden.
3.  We live on a dune so the area where the beds are located is all sand.  Because of this, I decided to build the beds 18" deep so I could get in lots of good soil and nutrients for the plants.  If you will be placing your beds on an area with soil, you could build them 12" high.  I've even seen beds as low as 6" or 8".
4.  In the materials list, I am only listing enough materials for one bed.  Multiply quantity of supplies by how many beds you would like to build.
5.  Each bed cost around $100 to build (cedar isn't cheap!).
6.  I bought all my lumber at Home Depot and they cut all my boards to size for me (Big shout-out to Erik at the Grandville, MI Home Depot who probably spent 2 hours with me!).  I can't recommend this enough!  The project would have taken me so much longer if I had to measure and cut myself.

Supply List:
- (4) cedar 4x4's cut to 18" high.
- (6) 5/4" x 6" cedar boards cut to 6' (I bought 12' boards and had them cut to 6')
- (2) 5/4" x 6" cedar boards cut to 18" (These will be used for the intermediate supports)
- Deckmate screws (very important, you don't wan't your screws to rust).  I used the #9 x 3 in size for screwing into the 4x4's and 8 x 1-5/8" for screwing into the intermediate support boards.
- Drill (I used my Dad's trusty Makita and it worked great).

Easy DIY Raised Garden Bed Tutorial:
1.  Lay out two of your 18" 4x4's on a flat, level surface.  Next, lay 3 of your 6' boards on top of the 4x4's, making sure to align the edges with the 4x4's along the sides and the top edge.  Because the 5/4 x 6" boards aren't truly 6" high, you will have a small amount of your 4x4's at the bottom.  I thought this was OK because it makes a nice base for the beds.  Screw in all boards into the 4x4's.  I used two screws at each end of the 6' boards.

2.  Repeat with the boards you need for the other 6' side of the bed.  Since I made 4 beds total, I put together all 8 of my 6' side panels first.

That's me - proof that I built these.  All by myself, I might add :)

The photo below shows all of my finished 6' panels.  They went together so quickly!

3.  Take one of your 18" long 5/4 x 6 boards and place in the middle of one of your 6' side panels.  Screw in using the smaller size screw.  I installed these on what would become the inside of the beds so that it wouldn't be noticeable once the bed had dirt in it.  Repeat will all 6' long end panels.

Below is a better shot:

4.  Stand up 2 of your 6' end panel sections.  If you are doing this on a flat surface, they will stand up on their own.  Place approximately 3' apart so you can screw in the 3' boards.

5.  Starting at the bottom, screw in one 3' board to connect the side panels.  Now, go to the other side and repeat.  Repeat with the other two boards on each side.  That's it...Your raised beds are complete!

Can you believe how easy that was?  Four beds took me approximately 2 hours to build. Like I said - It was so much easier that I thought it would be.

Here are the beds installed in our side yard:

The beds are now filled with soil (I used a mixture of soil, peat moss, and vermiculite) and are just waiting to be planted.  I will be back to post more photos and progress shots of the garden!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Weekend Kitchen: Fettuccine with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce

You know how sometimes you see a recipe and know right there that you need to make it immediately?  That's what happened to me with this one.  Everything about it sounded appealing to me.  Also, this is super simple to make and the ingredients list is not huge.  Serve this with a salad and maybe some warm crusty bread, and you've got a great meal in no time flat! 
{ recipe adapted from this one found on Apples + Sparkle Blog }

- 1 lb. fettuccine or similar pasta
- 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 28 oz, can whole, peeled tomatoes (do not drain), pureed in blender until almost smooth.
- 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 - 3/4 c. Gorgonzola cheese
- 1/2 c. chopped fresh basil, plus additional for topping if desired
- Freshly grated Parmesan for topping, if desired

1.  Start a pot of water on the stove to boil.

2.  Warm olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat for 30 seconds to a minute.  Add shallot and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until shallot almost starts to brown, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and pepper flakes and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes and stir to combine.  Next, add cream slowly, stirring as you add.  Add salt and sugar.  Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened.

3.  Your water should now be boiling.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions or until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

4.  Meanwhile, add gorgonzola to sauce and stir until the cheese has melted and is combined into sauce.  When cheese is combined, add pasta and basil to sauce.  Stir until combined.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.  After plating, top with additional basil and Parmesan, if desired.

{ serves 4 }

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Walk Through the Tulips

I wish I could say that the tulips were blooming right now, but around here, the tulip blooms are 3 or 4 weeks out yet.  I work in downtown Holland, Michigan - where, as you can imagine, with a name like Holland, tulips are a pretty big deal!  Holland is home to a huge Tulip Festival (this year will be the 86th year!).  There are literally millions of blooming tulips to see. I highly recommend a visit!
These photos are from a visit I  made to Veldheer Tulip Farm two years ago in May during the Tulip Time festival.  I never got around to posting them.  This was my first visit to Veldheer, and wow, was I impressed.  There were over 5 million tulips in bloom! They were gorgeous.  Here are some of my very favorite photos (there's a lot!)... 

Rows and rows of tulips as far as the eye can see.

Each different variety is numbered with a sign in the fields and you are given a booklet with the variety names.  Very helpful in case you see a variety you just have to have for your own yard.

This variety was one of my favorites.

Oh, I loved these too!

This variety looks so happy, doesn't it?

Aren't they just beautiful?  I'm anxiously counting down the days until they are blooming again!


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