To put it all together, we took the big clumps of grass out with a shovel and then laid weed cloth down. Doug made the boxes out of untreated 2x8 pieces of lumber cut into 4' lengths. He used deck screws to screw them together, and that was it. The lumber was about $6 for an 8' board. So, each box cost approximately $12.
We filled the boxes with Len's mix of cotton burr compost, rice hulls and a potting mix. To this we added the specified amount of Len's Essential Elements, which is the nutrition for the plants. I like this mix because it utilizes mostly cotton burr compost, which is a byproduct of the cotton industry. Rice hulls are a byproduct of the processing of rice. Our hulls actually came from the Riceland plants in Arkansas. We are recycling natural products, which benefits everyone. The cotton burr is also a good source of nitrogen.
Putting them together and filling them was very easy. Doug built the boxes and I did all the mixing. It took less than 2 hours to finish them both.
This is a shot of the two 4x4' squares we put together. Don't build anything larger than 4' wide if you can help it, because it becomes hard to reach across. You can see here the PVC frames we will use with a plastic covering in case of frost or extremely bad weather of some sort. It could also be used with shade cloth in the heat of the summer if need be. We used T-posts and electric conduit for a frame where we will add wire fencing for vining plants a little later. The fencing we bought has 7" squares, so you can easily reach through. We'll attach it to the frame with zip ties.
The first picture shows the first bed I planted. I used garden twine and nails to mark off my one foot squares. In the second box, I decided it wasn't that big of a deal and I could just "eye-ball" it. So far, we've got summer squash and zucchini, cucumbers, okra, broccoli, bell peppers, oregano, cilantro, basil and rosemary. I also sprinkled a few marigolds here and there to ward off a few pests.
The battery in my camera died before I got shots of the tomatoes. I have five different varieties of heirloom tomatoes that I am really excited about. They all are growing really well. My bean plants got hit pretty hard by the storm last week, though. They are up on the deck and I'm not sure if they'll make it or not. We'll see what happens.
One of the things I wish was different is the fact that there is grass growing right next to my boxes. I would prefer there to be mulch or a walkway of some sort. However, we are just renting here and I am trying to avoid as much expense and investment into the property as possible. This will do for now. Maybe next summer, we'll have a new house and an improved gardening system.