Since I can remember, I grew up around family members that have a strong green thumb.  My Grandparents always planted a huge garden every year.  Although I’m sure they had a tough year here or there, I like to think they always produced an amazing garden consistently.  From their garden our entire family would make pasta sauce from the bushels of tomatoes they produced.   I can also remember always looking forward to the raw snap peas they would give us.  They were always so sweet and delicious!

The green thumb didn’t stop with them.  On a slightly smaller scale, my Father, my late uncle, and my father in law, have all produced successful gardens.  Now the question is, did that green thumb gene carry over to my wife and I?  We’ll soon find out!

For a few years now, my wife and I have gone back and forth on whether or not we should get a garden started.  This year we finally decided to take on the task.  Although we are probably late to the game this season in getting started, we’re not letting that diminish our excitement and the fun we’ll get to have with the kids!

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We started this past week by breaking out the seed packs we had and thankfully we had nine envelopes of seeds.  Why am I thankful?  It was put best by my daughter when she counted each packet and divided them up saying, “everyone has the same amount, we each get three packets!”  It’s imperative that everyone gets their fair share!  Lord help us if one more person got one more packet than the other!

Before we planted the little seedlings, I was busy expanding my skills using the software called Sketchup to draw up plans for our garden.  I’ve used the software before, for other projects, and it gives you spot on measurements to know you’ll get things exactly right.  I also like it for producing a bill of materials.  The initial garden layout I designed was more than we wanted to invest in a tiny garden.  The software made it easy to adjust the plans and recalculate the measurements easily.



From the plans, you can see that there really isn’t a great deal to the garden.  What it helped conceptualize was the measurements we were after, buying the least amount of wood necessary for the project, and also figuring out how much dirt we needed to fill the unit.  I was able to take all those figures and do some pricing across three major stores: Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menard’s.  Pretty basic stuff, right?  You can see from the table below that Menard’s had the best prices.  The beauty of all this is that my calculated price was actually three dollars higher and it landed up costing me $85 instead of the projected $88!

Part Size Need Pcs. Qty Length HD Cost Lowes Cost Menard’s Cost
Posts 4×4 5 ft 4 1 4 x 4 x 8 ft 8.57 8.57 7.37
Trim 1 x 3 1/2 10 ft 8 1 1″ x 4″ x 12′ 5.97 5.97 4.57
Rails 2 x 4 25 ft 2 in 4 4 2 x 4 x 8 13.48 13.88 14.68
Planks 2 x 8 54′ 8 8 2 x 6 x 8 68.56 69.36 62.16
96.58 97.78 88.78

There is also another great benefit to having this all planned out, help from my daughter!  Her and I set out to Menard’s together to buy the materials.  She had never been to Menard’s before but really liked how big the store was and all the various items they had for a hardware store.  The only real complaint she had was in some areas they had staircases to climb to look at more merchandise.  However, all the staircases we walked by suggested that for the safety of children, they were not allowed to go up.  She really wanted to go up.

After giving the staff the list of boards I needed, we were headed to the yard to pick up all the wood.  It really reminded me of how my dad and I used to go to Carter Lumber and drive through the yard to pick up wood.  It brought back some fun memories!

The next day after purchasing the materials, we laid everything out in the garage and got to work.  I let my daughter do all the measuring.  It was fun to watch her take interest in it but she was constantly worried that she wouldn’t measure it right.  I kept reminding her to do her best and I would double check all her measurements.  She was comforted by the fact that I told her we could just flip the board over and measure again if we needed.  I also reminded her that she was using a pencil, so markings could easily be erased.  After she was done measuring and the fact that I can’t let her use the saw just yet, she wandered off to play while I ran through all the cuts.  She would later join me for assembly.

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Unlike the measuring task, she had no problem accepting the challenge to use the drill.  I helped her start the first several screws, but after that, she really got the hang of it and only needed me to help her find the middle of the board.  She’s a natural!

Low and behold, after all the sketching, planning, adjustments, shopping, and assembling, we landed up with a perfect result.  Maybe I’m speaking too soon!  So far, these are all the elements that we have control over.  The real test will be seeing our little seedlings begin to sprout in their pods and then be transplanted to their new grounds!  Now I know we won’t be producing enough tomato plants to make tomato sauce for the entire family, but we’ll produce enough to enjoy some salads and BLT’s!

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