Garden Shed Foundation

I took all of last week off work. All of the Veteran’s I serve have been asking me where I went and if I had a great time. Well, it was not a sit by the pool and sip on drinks kind of vacation. I had a to-do list about as long as my arm! I got the vast majority of it done, at least the back breaking part of it anyway.

My main goal during this “Workcation” was pour the cement foundation for my garden shed. We have an adorable 10′ x 10′ building on our property that the previous owners used as their milk house when they had a dairy cow, so precious! Since we moved in I have been using it to store random yard/garden supplies. For this new purpose it sits in a rather random spot of the property. We are very much about keeping old buildings that have so much charm and giving them a new purpose that suits our needs.

Getting Started

I honestly didn’t think this was going to be much of a project. I poured cement to fill in a patch of our sidewalk (Read that article here: https://pearlsponiesandpacifiers.com/2020/03/24/pouring-a-sidewalk-patch/ ) and that went really well so I thought this was going be just as simple. My Dad came out Wednesday to help me with the forms. We are on a bit of a hill but I didn’t realize how much our property slopes until I was out there with a level!

I bought out the lumberyard of 2″ x 6″ boards to use for the forms. We placed one along the fence which is what I was using as a guide to where the building would go. I dug it out to make the 2″ x 6″ even with the ground on the high side, remember, our property slopes quite a bit. From there we started pounding in stakes along the board and screwed the 2″ x 6″ to those, pounding in the stakes until the level read even. We basically repeated this process on all sides until the whole thing was even. There was quite a bit of back and forth until ALL sides were level. Please note that while completing this step ensure that you do NOT use the forms to help brace yourself as you stand up. I learned that one the hard way and we may have had to do some more leveling.

Digging to fit the first form.

The Really Hard Part

I don’t know if it was the fact that the temperature was pushing 90 degrees or if I just wasn’t mentally prepped for this step to take all day long but after the first step I thought we were pretty much home free, WRONG! Because our property has such a slope I had to go back to the lumberyard and get additional 2″ x 6″ to place under the first ones to totally fill in the forms. No big deal, I got those put in and then started placing waler brackets. For ours we just used a 1″ x 2″ cut in 2’ish sections and screwed them into the stakes at an angle with another stake behind them to ensure they didn’t move. These help brace the forms against the weight of the wet cement.

The walers on the tall side of the forms where they were needed most.

Again, that part wasn’t so bad either, the next step was prepping the ground inside of the form. Granted, I think the reason this step was extra difficult is because our property slopes so much but dang was it difficult! I used the flat-edged shovel to skim off the dirt until it was a level 4″. My Dad also suggested that we do a rat footing. Bascially, it’s adding extra cement down along the inner side of the foundation. I dug down about a shovels width in from the form and down an extra 4″. This helps so rain water doesn’t run under the building. I used the soil that I removed for the rat footing and to even the low sides of the inside of the form. We even had to bring in some outside dirt to make it even. After the soil was put in place I used the metal tamper to pack down the dirt so it was ready for cement. My Dad also wanted me to brace the forms with dirt so they would have more support against the wet cement but I’ll be honest, by this point of the day I was done and calling it good!

Pouring Cement

I scheduled the cement truck for Friday morning, it was quite exciting having a whole truck come. I had never had a big enough job to warrant a whole truck! The truck couldn’t quite reach the forms so we had to use the bucket on the tractor to haul the cement from the truck to the forms. Coby would pour the cement into the form and I then used a concrete come-along tool to rake the cement into the corners and tamp it down to get out any air bubbles.

Once we got the form filled in it was time to screed. We used a 2″ x 4″ for this. With a person on either side of the form they would drag the board pushing the bulk of the cement out of the way. Then they would take it back to the starting point and quickly see-saw it back and forth to level the cement. If cracks were needing to be filled in I would scoop a shovel full of cement in the area and they would do the process over again until it was nice and smooth.

Once this rough leveling was done my Dad showed me how to use the magnesium float and really smooth out the floor. Coby used the edging trowel to put a smooth edge on the cement so there aren’t any ridges. My Dad then used the broom to put a slight texture to the floor. He loves to add swirls to the cement instead of a straight line, I let him have free range and go for it! We then had to add the ever popular hand prints and Dad insisted we put the date in it as well, if only I could write in a straight line!

Final Thoughts

This step of the project was definitely more then I bargained for BUT it is done and done well. It really gave shape to my garden and I can’t wait to move the building and keep adding raised beds to make it my dream garden!

View of the foundation from the low side of the hill that needed a LOT of cement to even out with the high side of the hill.

Veggie Garden Design and Construction

I love a prolific, organized garden, who doesn’t?! I want a garden that is pleasing to the palatte as well as to the eye. Now that we have our own place my goal this summer was to start my dream garden. I have always wanted raised beds as they are beautiful and offer numerous planting benefits, i.e. longer growing season and complete control over the soil used.

This post is just covering the first phase of my garden plan. My total garden is going to be 61’1″ x 43’7″ and it just wasn’t feasible in both time and money to do that all at once.

Plan Before You Plant

The first step was measuring the space where I wanted the garden to go, and re-measuring it just to make sure. After that I broke out my architects scale and started designing. For me designing and drawing is relaxing, it’s my way of dreaming on paper. I have recently been obsessed with the YouTube channel called, “Garden Answer.” Laura is an extremely knowledgeable gardener who has given me a lot of inspiration and the confidence to try something new in my garden. I grew up with a vegetable garden being a plot of tilled up soil with rows and rows of veggies in it. There is nothing wrong with that but I wanted mine to have an almost architectural beauty to it as well. Laura made me realize I can have both, practical and eye catching. I have always heard of the idea of “rooms” in a garden but again, didn’t think that was for a vegetable garden but Laura made me realize, “Why not?”

My extravagant garden plan in my new “Plans” notebook with all of my current project ideas!

I really examined what we were wanting out of our garden. We would love to start canning and be able to have enough home-grown food that we can “grocery” shop from our own pantry. Therefore, we have to have a lot of garden space and we got it!

The design for my garden is very symmetrical, I am using the garden shed as the main focal point to break up the two main areas in the garden. After that I decided 4′ x 8′ beds are what I want for the bulk of my beds but didn’t want them just lined up in rows. I decided that along the center axis, aligned with the garden shed, I would do smaller, 3′ x 3′ beds for smaller crops and to help break up the area and really draw you into the garden from the main entry.

Breaking Ground

After the hours I spent designing and tweaking the plan it was time to break ground! My Dad has a 2 bottom plow that he tries to use any opportunity he gets. I had him come over and he and Coby plowed under the entire area where I was going to put the garden. We then tilled and tilled and tilled the area to break up the large clumps.

Building the Beds

It was time to make those beautiful raised beds. My research suggested using either Redwood or Cedar for beds due to their durability when exposed to the weather. In my area Redwood hasn’t been available for years so I went with Cedar. There were cheaper options of course but that included treated lumber which is something I wan’t comfortable with seeings how I am growing food in these. One lumberyard I called suggested that some people go with the treated lumber and then line it before putting the soil down to create a barrier.

I got my lumber and soil and started making six of the 3′ x 3′ beds. I mitered the corners because again, I wanted it to be pretty, and that’s what Laura did too! My Dad warned me that they would pull apart easier that way but I didn’t care. After I made these beds Laura did a follow up video on her channel stating that she would not do mitered edges again because of the aforementioned problem so, lesson learned, I won’t do it to the rest. Once I had all of the pieces cut to size I took them to the barn to screw together. Our barn is the only cemented floor we have and I wanted to make sure that they were flush. I screwed all of the beds together and then sanded the edges as they did get a little rough and splintery while cutting.

Putting Everything in the Garden

The next step was measuring the placement of everything in the garden. I measured the outsides and the center. I used fiberglass electric fence poles to mark these points. I then ran a string line in between the poles to measure from. Once I was sure it was centered I started placing the beds down where they should go based on my plans. I used a large rake to even out the soil where I was placing them to ensure that it was flat.

Scarlett helped me plant the finished beds. We may have a few extra Jack be Little pumpkins because of her assistance but I’m not mad. It’s so fun having her help and learn!

There is still a long way to go until my dream garden is complete but the first phase is done and let’s be honest, getting started is always the hardest part!