Thursday, September 15, 2011

Garden on the Go!

   Finally back, and with a new project! I've been working on my gardening skills, which in the past include a very brown thumb. Marty is much more the gardener than I, but I keep on trying. After all, I'm supposed to be a farmer, right?
   So...I have been thinking of trying a truck farm for a couple of years. Got a pretty red truck to try it in. Unfortunately it isn't running and the wooden floored bed needs replaced. I decided to go ahead with the idea tho and do one in the truck I drive all the time - my little Toyota Tacoma pickup.
   Check out the websites for these truck farms to get an idea of what some others are doing... and Too cool idea!

Here she is...

   My list of supplies included:
1 - top frame from an old small greenhouse - given to me by our friend John
2 - 2'x4' pieces screwed to the two frames on the underside. (These help keep it from wiggling side to side)
3 - 6' pieces of 1 1/4" round wooden hand rail poles (like the kind you might use for a shower curtain)
4 - pieces of 2'x4' about 12" tall that attach to the front and back 2'x4' pieces, forming legs for the topper
4 - pieces of metal strapping (with holes) and 4 bolts with wing nuts to attach the legs to the truck (see the pic below)
     I have hooks in the corners of my truck bed that I put the strapping thru. This holds the whole contraption secure in the bed. And, please note, that I have a plastic bed liner (great!) so I didn't need to add any kind of water barrier or padding or whatever to keep the bottom from rusting out. (See the videos for the guys on you-tube to see what he used for his metal bedded truck.)

     I put on a piece of plastic left over from when we built our hoophouses. It is about 4 mil thick I think. I stapled it to the 2'x4' front and back pieces in the middle and wrapped it around the corners on the ends. Then I realized the plastic would rub on the frame so took some old shoulder pads out of a couple of shirts and taped them with the everlasting and versatile duck tape to the sharp corners. (see the first pic) I just tucked the plastic under the round side bars.
    The test drive...almost fatale. The plastic was blowing into the middle so far it touched in the middle. hm.
Came back and  added two side pieces of wood in the middle of the sides...these were old molding pieces 6' long. I screwed them onto the frame. Add those to the supply list.
     I also added a piece of black plastic tubing across the middle and over the top bar (see pic below). It helped stabilize it some more when I screwed it to the lower two round bars. Add that to the supply list.
To keep the sides up when the weather is nice and it needs some air, I used 4 bungee cords that go from molding piece to molding piece, holding the plastic up. This is handy for when I want to work in it also.

   To avoid the soil leaking out the gap in the bottom of the tail gate, I added a piece of hardware cloth (1/2"x1/2" holes, metal fencing) across the back and folded under the bed liner. Then on top of that I laid a piece of landscape fabric. This way the water can go thru, but not the soil. (see the second pic above that shows the legs and you can see the hardware cloth and fabric). I can also put the truck tailgate down without all the soil falling out the back.
     Add the soil!
15 - 40# bags of mushroom compost
1/3 - bag of organic fertilizer
1 - 3.8 cu ft bag of sphagnum peat moss
1 - 2 cu ft bag of perlite
All of the soil stuff cost me about $100. Mixed it all together while dumping it into the bed. We figured it weighed about 630 lbs. including the frame, not wetted tho. Wet soil makes a difference. But the specs for my truck says it can hold 1350 lbs. My truck is 15 years old, so I wouldn't want to push it. Right now it is just heavy enough without affecting the stearing. The soil depth to the top of the wheel well is about 10". Just right for a lot of different kinds of plants.

Then the plants!

Okay...I cheated here a little. I went out into another garden area and dug up some swiss chard, celery, and onions. Popped them little guys in. I planted seed for arugula, three kinds of lettuce, three kinds of radishes, and a dwarf bok choi.
   See the clear plastic tubing in the picture on the right laying on the wheel well? I found out that the plastic would pull out from under the sides when I drove down the road. I had it just tucked in under the side bars. I went to our local Nussbaum Ace Hardware store where Dayton helped me figure out what to use. The tubing is about 1 1/4" on the inside. We cut 4 pieces at 2' each and then slit them down the middle. I trimmed the end edges round so the plastic wouldn't rub on them and rip. Then when I put the plastic down I tuck it under the sides and the back corners of the frame, and slip these plastic pieces on two per side. They hold the plastic great.

   All together I spent money on the round wood pieces, the soil, and the clear plastic tubing. Everything else was just stuff on the farm or given to me. The wood was scrap stuff, the metal strapping and bolts and such we had on hand in the tool shed. The plastic was left over from other projects, as was the black tube in the middle. And we always have bungee straps and duck tape here for emergencies. And, we always have seeds! I think all-in-all it cost me about $150. If I had to do it all from scratch and buy everything I can see where it might cost closer to $400 or more, depending on how I built the frame ends.
   The guys on the truck-farm website have glass (or plastic) flip up frames for the sides and their truck is a lot bigger. I figure that someone could probly put a pot in their front passenger seat and grow some stuff tho if they were desperate.
   Today is the big test drive...down the highway! We'll see if the big truckers blow the top off. It is pretty secure but I don't know about the plastic. Since I don't live in the big city like the truck farms in NY and Chicago, we have to drive quite a way thru country or highway to get anywhere. That means I need to make sure it will hold up, not only to 65 miles per hour, but also to big trucks passing me going either way. Wish me luck!!
   The whole idea that intrigues me is that people can use any space they have available to grow food. You don't need a farm, garden, or even a window sill. Use an old shoe, use anything for a container, just grow food! Don't be tied to feeling like you can't do it cuz you don't have any land or seeds. Soil and seeds can be found. We need to teach ourselves to feed our nation, our starving kids and those who are down and out. If my brown thumb can succeed in this - anyone can do it! Go grow!!