I finally got the first bed built today!!! With the heat it's just been impossible to do anything. Today we have a cold front pushing through so it'll be the first week we haven't been over 100 in 11 weeks here in Oklahoma (Texas was over 100 a few weeks before Oklahoma).
It was still hot this morning, it got up to 89 with a heat index of 91 while we were building the bed, but there is a chance of rain this afternoon so we wanted to get it done so it could soak up some water before I plant this week.
I made some changes from my original plans that I posted earlier in the summer. First, because of cost we decided to go ahead and try 2x6x8 pine boards instead of cinder blocks as the frame. When/if the boards need replacing, then we'll use cinder blocks. Next, I used perlite instead of vermiculite. There are a few reasons for this. One, I couldn't find vermiculite in our area. Two, perlite is about half the price of vermiculite. Three, asbestos has been found in vermiculite and one company was shut down which may be why it's so difficult to find vermiculite and why the price has skyrocketed.
What is the difference between perlite and vermiculite? There are many, and while similar products, perlite allows for better drainage while vermiculite tends to absorb water. I'm not worried about the perlite not holding water. If anything, because of the heavy clay below, I'd prefer perlite that drains so the soil doesn't become soupy. We are going to set up a laundry to landscape greywater system, so retaining moisture won't be an issue.
Here's the before shot.
Tony built the first box and we raked up the area underneath to remove any weeds and big rocks.
Next I layered old cardboard underneath to block weeds, while Tony screwed in another board to help keep the box from bowing.
Then we layered and mixed peat moss, perlite and cow manure until the box was full.