Saturday, March 26, 2011



I am planting flowers. Yes. Flowers. Planting them. Expending precious time, energy, and resources on the advancement of pretty things in my surroundings. Some of which serve no immediate discernable purpose.
I have already embarked upon this flower planting nonsense, actually. Last fall in a fit of “oh my god I am exhausted and tired and wtf am I doing here?!” I planted some daffodil and crocus bulbs. Knowing that if they came up (they have), and I never did more than that, then at least the whole Stoneyhaw venture wouldn’t be a TOTAL bust since I got SOMETHING to grow. My godmother also sent down some irises and daylilies she thinned so I’m actually well on my way.
I am not even going to ask why the crocuses sprouted and bloomed after the daffodils. I don’t even want to know.
There are many reasons to plant flowers. Some of them are medicinal. The Calendula, for example. Some are edible. The nasturtiums, poppies (seeds), sunflowers (again, seeds), daylilies. Some have a good or bad relationship with bugs and birds – I’ve got bee balm and honeysuckle (which actually grows wild, is taking over, and I am trying desperately to harm the livelihood of. But I’m about to accept defeat in that arena, so it goes on the list) and whatnot for the bees and hummies, marigolds and the like to repel beetles and the like (also edible). Some are herbs. The lavender and chamomile (also medicinal).
Some are purely aesthetic. While veggies are beautiful in their own right, if I’m going to work my ass off, I want something pretty to look at while I do it (and potentially talk to/curse at. I never said I was sane). Come on. You think Dahlias are awfully pretty, too. You know you do.
But mostly there are nostalgic reasons. Both the marigolds and the lilacs (I hope I hope! I can keep the lilacs alive here….) have super crazy childhood memories for me. And this time of my earlier childhood in Connecticut (notice I’m not succumbing to Japanese nostalgia and planting morning glories. They took over in my mom’s yard in Vancouver, and parts of the woods in Point Arena without an invitation. They are rude, and impossible to wrangle. They got knocked off of this year’s list…). And the fact that lilacs, Japanese Irises (of which I have some in pots that I dug up out of my yard and drove out here with), and Dahlias are my favorite flowers.
When we lived in Connecticut, we lived in this crazy big Victorian (or so it seemed to me) at the end of campus (a prep school campus). The first floor was the infirmary and the bookstore, but we went through it everyday to go in and out. And right along the front of the house were these giant lilac bushes (I was a small child. They could have been teensy. They seemed huge). And a few times (but one sticks out in my memory particularly well as I do believe the maintenance guys mowed over them later), my mother and I planted marigolds along the sidewalk in front of those lilacs. There were actually lilacs all over the campus – some white ones as well as the standard purple – and lilacs were so involved in the school’s persona that even the stories about the ghost that lived in one of the dorms involved lilacs. But for me they remind me of growing up wild in a pack of unruly teacher’s kids that had free run of the entire campus and whose only rule was that we had to be in by dark (or call. Seriously). Of growing up in a secure bubble where I knew many of the students by name, all of the teachers by name, and could tell you which dog belonged to which teacher and how many puppies it had by ours. And of growing up in a giant playground that had a grove of lilacs that made the best – the best! – playhouses.
So even though they are a great pest repellent in general, I am planting my beloved lilacs and several kinds of marigolds because of my mom. My mom who has sweat, toiled, cried in frustration and in joy on this property, and who, except for a slight miscommunication, would have been out here mucking about in the dirt (although definitely not with Melvin, my awesome Airstream) years ago. And who will be here again soon, if only briefly. Even though I think marigolds smell like pee.


Thursday, March 24, 2011


This winter is going to end. That sounds crazy, but seriously. It’s going to end. Did the past several days of warm weather hovering in the 70’s and 80’s turn me on to this fact? No. The fact that it just started raining did. Raining and thundering and lightening and wind rustling, and all sorts of fun, definitively summeresque things.
Growing up in Japan, the weather was exciting. And excitingly predictable. My parents used to joke with new post-docs and whatnot coming in from overseas to Japan for the first time about it. You’re not supposed to wear short sleeves until May 1st, for example. And there are times in April when it can only be described as hot. Yet the weather is polite and punctual, not unlike the Japanese themselves, and waits until it is socially acceptable to wear short sleeves to really kick your ass with the stifling, muggy, oppressive heat. Plums bloomed in March. Cherries in April. Apples in May. And then there was typhoon season. Which started precisely on September 1st (or whenever it is supposed to start. Honestly I can’t remember…)
Typhoon season came at the end(ish) of summer. Summer had a tendency to go back into high gear not so long after typhoon season ended just to make sure your ass was kicked before winter set in, and you froze your butt off in your un-insulated prefab house…. Typhoon season came with lots of preparation and reminiscing of past big storms. But for us, typhoon season was fun.
When we first moved to Japan we lived in a new planned community right across the street from what was a vacant lot that was large by any standards, especially Japanese ones. This vacant lot (and indeed out whole neighborhood) had been carved out of a mountain top and meticulously leveled, and had great reinforced concrete drainage pipes and whatnot built into it. This lot would later (after we moved a few blocks away) turn into a new elementary school (that my sister went to), but for the first few years it was a blissful playground for us. I would ‘practice’ my volleyball serves against the concrete wall reinforcement at the end of it, and after the typhoon had passed we would slide down the drainage pipe on our butts in the gushing water coming down out o the field well after the actual rain had stopped.
And while Japanese weather is predictable (sure – to the extent that weather can be predictable, but still), the weather her in my new home state has been anything but. Record lows this winter, a very strange March (so far)… snow, rain, random heat….
10 minutes later the sky opened up.
But what is really getting me started upon this little jaunt down memory lane is the smell. That “it’s been super hot all day and now the temperature and the pressure and the sky has dropped and is about to unload copious amounts of water on you while you’re still trying to run for cover and/or bring in the laundry” smell. A smell that can only be brought to you by drastic temperature changes. Like when a summer sky gets clouded over and your sunburn is all of a sudden making you cold instead of warm. You don’t get this kind of exciting weather in coastal California. Yes you get windstorm and rain storms and whatnot – but nothing as quick and dramatic and “catch you with your pants down” as this kind of weather.
And to be honest – I missed this weather. It’s amazing how you can forget. And it’s amazing what makes you remember. Through a seemingly random chain of events I ended up spending my formative years in Japan, and then again it was completely random that I ended up in coastal California for almost 8 years, and then it was by total chance that I ended up in North Carolina (OK – this one is actually the least random if you know me and my family history). But I wasn’t expecting to be so reminded of – and homesick for – my childhood by moving to North Carolina. And sometimes – like this afternoon – it knocks my socks off.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Humble Beginnings

Everyone has to start somewhere. This is my somewhere, I suppose.
I realize that I have been absent from the blogging realm of things – I have been busy. I have been busy mucking about in the dirt. Or gardening, if you prefer. Mostly fending off ticks, but that’s a whole other story.
I finally got all 7 (holy crap! 7!) beds built, and have managed to get 4 of them filled with dirt/compost/leaves I managed to scratch up off the ground. Of the remaining 3 beds, only one really needs to be done immediately, and so I’ll get to it tomorrow, and the other two as soon as I can. But I had these little seedlings in the shed waiting with bated breath to get out of the shed and into the ground, already. We’re only a few weeks behind on a few things, after all.
I’m kind of doing the whole square foot planting thing, for the highest yield I can for the limited amount of space that I’ve built. Thank you, I’m aware I live on 40 acres. I’m also aware of how difficult it is to clear enough space to plant things, never mind the additional space you need to clear just to get light in. So. Yes. Shooting for high yield in a small space.
I laid string out and stapled it to the walls of the beds in a grid of one square foot squares. I seriously thought about winging it, but I’ve got so much stuff to keep track of at this point I feel like I need the visuals just to keep everything straight.
Grid laid, there are two more things that need to happen before things go in the ground: water and deer protection.
I hate deer. Hate is a strong word, and I mean it to the full extent of all the weight behind it when thinking about deer. In California, I once rolled in to one to get my parking space in front of my own house when honking and yelling didn’t work. I also had to smack one with a broom to get it out of my outdoor shower so I could bathe once. My feelings towards deer as a species haven’t changed even if my state of residence and the variety of deer has. So deer netting it is.
Most people I know that garden with raised beds use hoops of PVC covered in netting. I didn’t like this for two reasons. (And no, one of them isn’t that PVC is evil). First off, I’d have to buy several lengths of PVC. I am still unemployed and running on an extremely tight budget. And I have been clearing (and clearing and clearing….) trees of all sizes, and while I have been burning up all the brush and branches, I keep all the trunks. Which means I have a bunch of poles.
The other reason why I didn’t want to go the hoop/netting route is access. Deer netting is a pain in the butt to wrastle, and I have yet to see a good solution to the accessibility issue when the bed is actually antlered-rat proof. Inspired by my former landlady (a great friend and a great artist), I remembered that she simply went around the perimeter of her garden and kept the last side open, with an extra pole attached to it. To open the side you simply move aside the last pole and to close it you just hook it around the first one. I expanded on this by sinking a short length of wide PVC where the last pole hooks around so it has something to drop into.  
I had initially wanted to put the poles on the outside, but I failed to find metal strapping that would hold them in place (both aluminum cans and aluminum flashing don't work. In case you were wondering…).  I hadn’t wanted to put them in the beds as they would eat up seriously valuable real estate in the one square foot they’d be invading. But since I pretty much found myself in a position where it was that or nothing at all I just plopped the smallest ones I could find in each corner, screwed them in with leftover deck screws, and moved on. Stapled deer netting to said corner poles, the extra fifth pole (for access), et voila! Deer proof (I hope!) beds.
I was hell-bent on getting SOMETHING in the ground, so I ignored the lack of a water system issue and moved on to transplanting my peas and carrots (two varieties of each, and none of which I wanted to start inside as they should have been planted outside a few weeks ago, but whatareyougonnado?) and planting two kinds of beets. I have another two varieties started inside. I like beets.
And now, Stoneyhaw (website coming soon!) has the first garden on it in a very long time. Unsure as to how long, exactly, but I’d like to think that it’s the first real garden since my great-grandfather’s. And that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Even if I can’t find the asparagus that he planted that has become something of an urban legend at this point. 
Map of the garden. No joke. This is my key to all things Stoneyhaw.
The original bed plans were all nice and organized and laid out and everything....and then I changed the bed size. And so I cut and taped them back together. Then I changed some of the plants....rearranging again.
New bed plans that are SURE to be temporary as well... *sigh* But it's ok, because these are on binder paper. And so they can go in my farm journal/binder. See? A good thing.....
Itching to get out of the shed where they should NEVER have been, and to the great outdoors!
Stringing out the grids.
Corner poles set in and anchored. You can see the PVC in the corner for pole #5 to hook in to.
Deer netting affixed to pesky multi-sized yet free so yay! poles.
Humble beginnings. More to come.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beds! - Update

We are almost there, people. Al. Most. There.

I got home from my weekend away (as many of my weekends are currently...), at around noon today. Along the 3 hour drive (and during much of the weekend, to be honest) I had been thinking about the next steps that need to be taken at the farm and regrouping in general. I had been letting the overwhelming nature of all that still needs to be done and all that I'm having a tough time doing on my own get to me and had gotten to the point where I really couldn't see the forest for the trees.

While you'd be right to assume that I've only been alone out here for a few months, you'd be wrong to assume that I've only been living and breathing Stoneyhaw for 5. I've been gearing up and working towards getting the farm going, and this planting in particular for 2 years now. So I had been feeling like I've been churning and churning and churning with nothing to show for it.

Many meltdowns and rebuilds later, I'm feeling better. I'm still terrified that I will never get a job and they will come and take away my car and my cell (gasp!), but I AM feeling like I'm not going to go hungry.


Because spring is springing, dammit, and if daffodils that have been left alone for 50 years can come up and flower in the shade and a daylily we planted AND THEN PUT A BUCKET ON TOP OF IT BECAUSE WE FORGOT IT WAS THERE (ahem! Mom! Why did you let me do that?!) can come up, I can get something to go.

(that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

So after my 3 hour drive home, I chose to believe the weather report and assume it is going to rain tomorrow.

Since I didn't have my beds ready last fall so I could amend them and let them get all nice and nitrogen-y over the winter, I am trying to incorporate a bunch of organic matter (and unfortunately fertilizer) into the dirt I'm filling the beds with.  But my beds are not level. I am buying (*gasp!*) dirt, and that stuff is expensive so I'm not necessarily wanting to have to fill one side of the bed with 10 inches and the other with 8, just to have it leach out the bottom.

I also don't want to cut wood to fit the gaps. And. Umm. I don't really thing I have the capacity to do so anyway.

Enter my rocks. I decided to wedge rocks in the big gaps. I'm also hoping that this will aid with the drainage issue - my plants don't need wet feet, and under the topsoil that my great-grandfather built up is hard, slippery, non-porous clay.

So I filled gaps with rocks I hauled off of my great-grandfather's sawdust pile from the 60's (umm. AWESOME compost at this point!), and then lined an inch or two in the bottom of each bed with leaves and stuff I scraped up off the surrounding ground. The rain tomorrow can pack it down and get it going on the road to decomposition, and I will fill in with dirt/compost/fertilizer on thursday (post rain), hopefully. Fingers crossed!

50 years ago this was a pile of sawdust with rocks on top of it, presumably to keep the sawdust from flying everywhere. Unless the atmospheric pressure here in NC is such that it only takes 50 years for rock to form.
Not going for pretty OR gapless, here. Gaps are good actually. Means that hopefully the water will run out the bottom instead of sitting on top of the clay.
Level. Propped up. Aerated. Next up? Compost and then dirt.
Sitting with their cute little layers of leaves and whatnot. Waiting for tomorrow's rain to kick in the decomposition process. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Experiment within an Experiment

I’m kind of looking at this year’s garden as a bit of an experiment. While my mission statement of sorts still holds trued, I am new to the climate, as well as this scale of gardening, and haven’t had the time to get the soil prepped the way I would have liked. So whatever flourishes this year is an absolute keeper, and we’ll tweak and readjust/throw stuff out next year.
But one thing I want to grow is tea.
I grew up very close to one of the oldest and most famous tea growing regions in Japan. Driving through the countryside always involved corduroy-like hillsides whizzing by, and school camping trips often involved roasting our own tea over a campfire. I took tea ceremony with my mother for many years and dang it, it was Japan. Tea is involved in just about everything.
While I don’t get why people don’t grow more of their own food, I do understand why more people don’t grow tea. It does need a warmer, moister climate, and it’s just not as deeply embedded in out culture here in the west. And black tea is a pain in the ass to produce. It’s a bit labor-intensive so why would one make it themselves? Unless you are me, who has to make everything at least once.
There are a few commercial tea operations in the US, but not many. And there are a few family-run businesses that sell tea plants online. Enter the brokenness again. I can get one plant for about $20, or 5 seeds for $2.50. As I am planting about 60 different kinds of seeds this year (gasp!), I went with the seeds.
I planted them today. If they don’t germinate, next year we’ll try our hand at not killing plants. But still so excited!!
First things first, they’re huge. Since they keep the tea bushes meticulously pruned in Japan, you rarely see seeds in Japan. This was, I think, my first encounter with actual seeds. (Oddly enough I’ve seen fossilized ones in museums in Japan on school field trips)
Look closer. Those puppies are awesome looking.

I did have an epiphany during the planting of the tea seeds today. I have plastic domed tops for seed flats, but I wanted to start these guys in a bigger container and I didn’t have anything to act as a mini greenhouse. Thankfully my man loves frappuccinos, and I happened to have a few of his empties lying around. I slapped some tape over the hole the straw goes through, and voila! Mini greenhouse!

If I can get my man to drink tall’s instead of venti's, they might fit better. But this is still totally functional and I’m happy with it. I’m anticipating that they will give the tea seeds a better fighting chance.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oh Snot Juice! I Haven’t Forgotten You!

People used to always remark on the large jar of strange brown liquid that occupied a very prominent shelf in my kitchen in my beloved cabin in Point Arena. At the restaurant I had a pet sourdough starter, after the restaurant I had a pet Kombucha SCOBY.
I had to give up my beloved SCOBY when I left – I was in transition and hanging out in Vancouver BC with my family for a few weeks, and then after that I was driving across country, so not the most SCOBY friendly of situations.
Not long after my arrival in NC, my previous employer hooked me up with a new SCOBY, and now it occupies a prominent shelf in, of all places, my Airstream bathroom. It’s the biggest shelf I have, it’s out of the way, and it gets the most sun (read: it's often the warmest spot in the camper....I do NOT advocate direct sunlight on your Kombucha....that would be bad.). It’s perfect.
I’ve just made my second batch (the first batch took FOREVER as it was rarely over 35 degrees in there. But nope. Didn’t kill it!), and am happy to be reunited with my beloved Kombucha. I’ve got extra. Come on over.

Patient not-so-little SCOBY patiently waiting for new tea to live in.

New tea, new SCOBY, new awesomeness 

Old kombucha, waiting to start off the new batch....
Bottled kombucha. Sitting out for 2 days to get all carbonated and yummy. I use that particular brand of beer bottle for my ginger beer, too....yummmm....ginger beer. Gotta get on that. I see a lot of Dark 'n' Stormy's in my future this summer...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Beehives! - Part One

OK. So I have been not so secretly working on making some beehives. My mother has wanted to keep bees for a very very long time. I did, too, but the conventional beehive that I kept coming across just seemed time/equipment/money consuming. I kept thinking about, of all things, Friar Tuck from Robin Hood and couldn’t see him traveling around the English countryside with boxes and frames precariously perched upon his drunken rotund backside.
So. After some further research I found out about Top Bar beehives. They are what people use in developing countries, and are enjoying a renaissance of sorts amongst backyard beekeepers.
I love the idea that this method is not necessarily honey-centric – it basically lets the bees do their own thing in their own time, and this enables healthier hives. Healthier, happier, bees. This seems like a good thing, no?
The other upshot of this is that I am not in this for the honey. If anything, I prefer to get more wax than honey. And wouldn’t you know it! Since the bees aren’t constricted to a frame that you introduce to the hive, they have to build all the walls of their cells, which means more wax. So. Yay for me!
I think I was convinced to actually try to build a hive when I came across a post on Little House in the Suburbs. I love this blog, and I appreciate the sense of humor that they approach it with.
Armed with this plan, I set out to build my own.
Cutting the sides and ends out of raggedy yet new (yay!) plywood. And yes, that's the saw I used to do this whole project. Why? Because it's small, cute, does the job, and that way I didn't have to haul out/set up more tools.

Cut top bars - enough for one hive. The way the plywood worked out, it was more efficient to make two hives at a time. So. Yes. I cut 50 of those.

Follower boards being glued to the top bars. Nope. I don't have clamps big enough, so they just had to be pressed by their own weight.

Concerned with said glueage and lack of clampage, I decided to pop some nails in there, too. Just for my piece of mind.

You have to give bees a bit of incentive for them to latch on and build comb where you want them to. Some people put grooves down the length of the top bars, quarter round and things like that - they add some sort of texture and cover said texture with beeswax to coax them into wanting to make that unused piece of wood their home. I am too broke to be buying 60' or soof quarter round, so I decided to staple extra thick bamboo skewers I happened to have to the undersides and I will cover those with beeswax. I cut off the points with tin snips first.

Attached bamboo skewer - ready for wax!

Really it should be made out of proper wood – and by proper wood I mean wood planks. I am, as you very well know at this point, unemployed and broke as hell so I made it out of exterior grade plywood and furring strips. Which means that when I lay the top bars down on top of the hive, there will more likely be gaps due to curvature of the wood. This is really not something I could avoid. I picked out the straightest ones I could find, but for the price and quality – there’s gonna be some curveage.
Right now the ‘beehive’ is in the shed waiting for me to get off my butt and get wood for the legs so I can assemble the thing. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Construction Sequence

I grew up watching a lot of movies. It might be a genetic/family thing in general, but growing up in Japan that was pretty much the one thing that we could get on TV that my parents could watch. Usually about halfway to two-thirds of the way through the movie, our hero will have figured out how to solve their dilemma, and a montage set to some inspiring/dramatic/romantic (depending on the genre of said movie) music would ensue showing said hero putting their plan in motion. This is usually the point at which my dad would yell “Construction Sequence” and get up to get cigarettes/snacks/go to the bathroom/whatever. We would all be gathered back in front of the TV for the grand finale with lots of time to spare.
I am in my construction sequence. Unfortunately it involves lots of schlepping and hauling as well as constructing, but I still get my soundtrack (thanks iPhone!) and my days are a blur of hauling/shlepping/constructing/fixing/watching/notetaking/job-hunting, and is beginning to feel quite montage-y.
I hope to not have a grand finale of any kind any time soon, but I can’t wait to see the fruits of my plan.
Yes. In this metaphor, I AM  the hero.
Gathering of the cast of thousands.
The floor of my shed is my workbench. Here I am making corner brackets. That is actually a clean thumbnail.
As much as I hate doing it, working with new wood - even if it is just furring strips - is so nice.
Good to know that California includes untreated wood dust on its extremely long list of things that will most definitely kill you.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

International Women's Day

Yes. My blog is participating in the blogging for International Women’s Day madness.
And here’s the thing. I can blog about anything – inspiring women, gender equality, gender inequality, etc, and my mind keeps coming back to possibly the most cliché topic ever. My mom.
My mom is awesome. No. She’s seriously awesome, and I am proud to consider her one of my best friends. I’m biased you say? Let me explain why you, too, should be inspired by this woman.
She is smart as hell. Yup. Graduated high school early, went to college, got into one of the top Linguistics PhD programs in the country and got her PhD in record time. And during graduate school she got divorced, got married, had a baby, and moved to the middle east. Her PhD thesis writing was interrupted mostly by toddler wrangling, it seems. (And not much of that, since as you all know, I am perfection incarnate and always have been)
She is an amazing mom. As I mentioned before, she toddler-wrangled in Kuwait, only to move back to the US and take on a 24/hr job at a prep school where she proceeded to have 2 more kids. And pretty much return to work immediately, newborn in tow. We have a picture somewhere of her teaching class from bed days after delivering my babiest sister, Indiana. When we were 10, 5, & 3, the fambly moved to Japan, where she proceeded to child- and teenage- wrangle for 13 years. In Japan. In a country that has extremely different parenting styles, and where very few people speak English. Processed food never entered our kitchen (except for frozen pot pies when I was sick). I didn’t know what an Oreo was upon entering kindergarten. She is the first to praise accomplishment and the first to empathize when failures happen. And goddamnit, she saved all of my ‘drawings’ as a small child.
She is the most down-to-earth and awesome woman I know. Case in point: she came out to help me get the farm started, stayed for 2 or so months, and is itching to get back. She is not afraid to get her hands dirty, and at the end of the day prefers it this way, I think. She has canoed down the Missouri river, hiked part of the Appalachian, traveled all over the middle east, been to Petra for crying out loud, traveled all over Europe, been to Australia, been to south America, traveled parts of Asia, built a cabin with her family in her teen years, and always baked our treats from scratch growing up.
So. If I can grow up (shut up. I may almost be 32, but I am not grown up yet.) to possess a fraction of the smartness, maternalness, tenaciousness, and general can-do ness that my mom has, I’ll consider myself an extremely lucky and accomplished person. I only hope I can inspire others as much as she has inspired me. Clichés are clichés for a reason.
Mom toasting Melvin's arrival. Little does she know she's toasting the kickoff of this farm adventure, the day I fell for my man, life in North Carolina, and the clicking together of many of my life's puzzle pieces. Love you mom.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Garden Update

While I am still having crazy nightmare/panic attacks about the fact that I might not be able to get anything to grow and I’ll be out here hungry as well as broke, I have things sprouting!
I’m up to 3 flats of seeds trays, all planted at different times, but things seem to be coming along nicely (knocking on wood). Excited!
Little tender seedlings. So effing cute.
And I finished the beds! Now they just need to be leveled, filled, and planted. I think I have them all arranged where I want them….. I think. 

Not shown: the other one made out of new lumber. They have since been rearranged with the help of the man and the man-cousin.
More exciting things to come!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


Please excuse me while I freak out for just a wee minute.


Ever since we got out here, we have been working our butts off to make this place 'a farm'. And yes, in a previous post I redefined the term to fit my needs. But I think I have now made a tiny step of progress that no one can deny is definitely a step forward in the farm realm.

I made raised beds.

We have clay soil here, and while I am putting the garden on what seems to have been my great-grandfather's garden, I would still have to add to his already amended soil to be able to do anything. And since I would have to bring in dirt anyway, and I would like to get stuff growing this year, I'm doing raised beds instead of rows in the ground. I am trying to loosen up the dirt under the beds enough so that roots will have that extra bit of room, but this is the ground that broke the tiller, after all.....

My cousin had demolished his friend's shed and brought me what wood was salvageable, and I took down my great-grandfather's shed. Between them I might get 4 - maybe 5 - beds of varying sizes. I'm shooting for somewhere in the 3 - 4 by 8ft range.

So far I did two out of the siding my cousin brought me - and I am very proud of them! 

The unsorted pile of wood from my cousin. It has been covered for the past few months with the sheets of roofing. I also have the door from said shed with a gorgeous glass doorknob...

Untreated side. This is what the dirt will touch. You can tell the wood's not in the best shape, but sturdy enough for garden beds.

I cut off the unusable bits (if there were any), measured all the boards of the same type (as they are the same width and I'm OC like that), and sorted them by length. Easier to piece them together. These guys are tongue-and-groove siding, which was once red.

The only side of the two beds made with 3 whole boards. Woot.

The boards that needed to be pieced together I did so with scrap pieces of wood. I am not afraid of glue, and those screws were used as I happened to have a half of a box laying around. Turns out I used all the screws and was one short for this project - I cannibalized something else for said screw, and no one will ever be the wiser!

The middle piece holds the three boards together, the 2x4's on the end are for the corners. It'll make sense in a minute...

I used two convenient stumps to prop up the long side while I screwed the short side in and made the square (!!) corners. Both sides are screwed into the 2x4 on the corner.

The two L pieces face off!

I made the two L-shaped pieces, put them together, fastened the two remaining corners, and voila!

Two beds. One is 3'x8'x16", one is 4'x8'x10"

The only wood I didn't use - and the stuff on the left was pulled out of the running before I started piecing things together - you can see it's broken or otherwise unsuitable. I've kept it, though, to use as brackets and whatnot for future projects.
I'm also very proud of my new phone's picture taking abilities...