How I Built My Michigan Garden
I wanted to build the garden in units of 8' because most materials
come that way making it easy to plan out and handle materials. I decided
a 32 foot by 32 foot garden would fit well in an area I could clear
out. I cleared and tilled an area 38'x38' to have room for a grass walk-way around the garden.
The ground was level north-south but had about a 2' slope from east to west.
I filled in the area with some top soil to make about a 6 inch slope to
slow down run off. I had about a 1½ feet or so of good top soil with
sand below that. It was a perfect garden area.
I started with measuring out and digging my holes for the 4 corner posts.
I used treated 4"x4"x8' posts and dug the holes three foot deep.
This would give me five foot high corners, three foot for the wire fence and
an extra two foot in case I have to run a wire up higher to keep deer back.
I also used an eight footer where the gate will go, on the latch side so
I could end the wire and keep a 4 foot opening for the gate.
After leveling and squaring up the posts I used 2 60# bags of ready mix concrete in each hole letting it
harden 24 hours before filling the rest of the hole with dirt to about 6 inches
from the ground surface.
Next I measured out and dug the holes for the rest of the fence
posts to a depth of 2 foot below the surface. I cut six 4"x4"x10' post in half with a chain saw
and set them in the holes cut end down. At this point I loosely attached the 2"x6"x8' base boards
on the inside with 2½ screws so the top of the boards were exactly three foot from the top
of each post. I then filled each hole with dirt making sure
each post was plumb and the base boards level as I went.
The next step was to run the top rail for the wire fence. I used 8 foot 1"x4" for this
loosely attaching them with 1½ screws to the outside. With all the top rail in place staring
from the front post I stretched 3 foot galvanized chicken wire using a staple gun
to secure it to the inside of the top and bottom rail. With the rail screws
lose you can run the wire between the rails and posts and tightening the screws
as you go to help hold the wire in place it also gives a very clean look with
no sharp edges to catch. You can also add 2x4's to the inside of the rail if
you want to add strength to the top rail. I may do it later myself after I see how it holds up.
Without the 2x4 added to the top rail you do not want to lean on it to hard.
I was thinking I could hide a water and electric line between the two boards making
up the top rail at a later date.
In the corner were the gate will go I added an inside board to make a form
between the gate posts and 4 foot up the hinge side 6 inches deep and filled
it with concrete for added support. It also would make it easier to cut the grass
since none would grow under the open gate area along the fence. I also poured
a slab next to the gate 4 foot by 2 foot to match the growing bed size in front
where the water spigot will go.
All that is left now is to put the planting beds in using 2x4's for the forms.
On the north side I made one 4 foot wide bed the full length, where I would plant my
sweet corn, and a two foot wide bed around the rest of the inside. In the middle I
made 3 sections 4 foot wide and 22 foot long using a plump line across the bottom rails
of the fence to keep the forms strait and level. I made stakes out of 2"x4" pieces
about 2 foot long to use at the corners and connections to secure the form in place.
Once everything was square and level I filled the area between the forms with top soil,
leveling the soil to the top of the forms, and seeding the walkways with grass seed.
This is where I left it and let the grass grow in through late summer and fall.