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Last fall’s hurricane and tropical storm duo forced the removal of three mature trees in our backyard. I’ve waited excitedly through the spring to see how much sunshine would reach the ground in our previously heavily-shaded space. And I planted tomatoes and cucumbers by faith expecting to harvest fresh veggies during the 2019 season. I can report that an early June day-long spot check showed a sizeable area of sun for more than six hours a day with fringe areas receiving nearly eight hours.

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The sunny area includes the parking space for the wheeled dumpsters provided by the city for trash and recycle collection. Our homeowners association sounds like a broken record repeating the mantra that the dumpsters must be placed behind the house or screened by a suitable lattice on the sides of the house. On a walkthrough of several streets I realized that particular covenant item is no longer enforced. Nevertheless I don’t want to be the one that triggers the neighborhood-wide crack down so I will add a screen and create a suitable trash dumpster parking space.

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Along with the dumpsters I needed to remove a 21 square foot planting of St. John’s Wort and rake up the landscape rocks. I discovered that rocks are easily lifted by a bedding fork once they are dislodged by a garden rake and a tiller. What I estimated to be a very tedious task became much easier with the correct tools.

Shawn and I planned to use part of the sunny space for raised beds. We discussed many ideas and products on the market, but in the end we revived and modified the bed design I created for Michelle’s townhome. It is simple, elegant, cost-effective, and Shawn likes it. Win!

I wanted to use cedar rather than the pressure treated products often used for outdoor projects. The Raleigh high-tech environs include many software mills but few lumber mills. One lumber supply company offered to order cedar in the necessary sizes, but I would have to mortgage the house and sell my remaining kidney to pay for it.

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I searched Craigslist and found Murdock Lumber in Bunn, North Carolina, just a short drive east of Raleigh.  Jack Murdock, the owner/operator, swapped emails with me to address what I needed against his current stock. He could supply 8” wide and 4” wide air dried red cedar so I placed my order and sketched out a plan using those dimensions.

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The wood is rough cut, straight out of the mill and beautiful, just what I wanted for the raised beds. Over time the cedar will fade to gray much like the hair on my head. Murdock Lumber has a wide variety of wood at reasonable prices for anyone looking to complete that special project.

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Heat and sweat, clouds of dust roiling from the shop, and aching muscles gave rise to a pair of garden beds. One is 4’ x 4’ and the second is 3’ x 8’ for a total of forty square feet of gardening space.

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Norwood Road Garden Center is my go-to place for soil. They are close by and offer a mix (#3 blend) that will grow anything I plant. With a soil depth of 12” I expect some healthy veggies from these beds. I ordered a yard of soil and the bucket operator expertly filled my tiny truck. Unloading took several wheelbarrow trips over thirty minutes followed by a cleanup of the truck and driveway. Did I mention I was motivated to complete this project?

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Aerial view!

Shawn loves the beds, and though we are getting a late start we planted some goodies this weekend. Time will tell what actually grows. And she would not let me have a turn with the garden hose. The smile on her face told the story. This is her kitchen garden.

I am learning that wonderful things can happen in the smallest garden spaces. I’m training myself to stop, observe, celebrate the wins, and above all to give thanks to God for the privilege of having my hands in the soil. Besides with a larger garden I may not have time to write and share.

in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB