Friday, June 17, 2016

Building More Than Just A Garden

The glass bottles are lined up like soldiers waiting for their orders. The early morning sunlight streams in to illuminate the company standing at attention, awaiting instructions. Our kitchen temperature has raised ten degrees as the giant pot starts to swelter from the slow boil. The counters are set up like stations for a culinary art project. Bright greens vie for attention while the strong aroma of fresh cut garlic cloves wafts throughout the house. It's pickling time at our house and that means it is time to come together and make something special.

The recipe is a family tradition, passed down from generation to generation with my wife carrying on what her grandmother did before her. The pickles are made in limited batches and because of this, they are treasured. They are given as gifts at Christmas and used sparingly for family get-togethers. Depending on the company, you may be rewarded and deemed pickle worthy. If you get pickles as a gift, you may well consider yourself part of our family.

In the past, when pickle making has happened each summer, my wife has scoured farmer's markets, asked farmers who participate in CSAs, and hunted high and low for pickling cucumbers and the seeded heads of dill plants at grocery stores. Turns out, finding the supplies hasn't been easy. One year we went without making the pickles and that was a dark and dismal year without them. We could only pine about them and talk about the years where various peppers like habaneros changed the game. Dill has traveled from as far as The Adirondacks to make it into our pickles when as chance would have it, my mother in law discovered a bucket of dill at a local grocery store in Old Forge, New York and wiped out the store. As you can see, we take our pickle making very seriously.

With our pickle inventory dwindling and supplies even more scarce, I decided to take matters into our own hands. That's when I came up with a plan to build a raised bed and grow our own cucumbers in our backyard. Luckily for me, Lowes was right there to make sure I had everything I needed. Even if you waited until the last minute or are not sure what you're looking for, visit Lowe's online and make sure the dad in your life gets everything he needs this Father's Day.

I bought everything online and picked it up in the store. We all know what it is like to shop in those home improvement stores with kids so buying online was the easier option. Helpful customer service representative, Jason at the Oaks, Pennsylvania Lowes ensured that I had everything I needed and loaded into my car on one of the hottest days of the year. I kept my daughter occupied while they brought everything to me. Talk about convenience!

When I was a kid, my grandfather had a woodworking shop in his basement where he taught my brothers and I how to cut on a band-saw and jigsaw once we were old enough. What he taught me was that you shouldn't be afraid of what you don't understand but to learn by trying. He believed that by practicing you could build more than just something great out of wood. By trusting in us, he built up our confidence as kids. Buying a DEWALT mitre saw from Lowes was my attempt at taking his lesson and turning it into a chance to build my own children's confidence.  A miter saw is a great investment for home repairs and makes a great gift for Father's Day.

The way I did that was through was quality #DadTime teaching them how to measure and cut wood. When it comes to experiences like this, I make sure that my kids, whether boy or girl are all getting the same experience. I need to be the example for them to see that there is no difference in what is expected of them. Building confidence in all kids takes time, patience, and a whole lot of trust.

But, it's not only confidence that we are building, it is also a great memory of how the family all came together and created something useful for all of us. The secret ingredient to these pickles is going to be the extra love and care that went into making them as a family.

Kids learn best by doing. Teaching them a skill and then seeing them apply it is one of the greatest things about being a parent. When they take what they have learned from you and you see them execute it, there is no greater feeling.

Our backyard soon became a classroom of sorts. The kids pitched in once my wife I laid out the first timbers by digging a channel into the ground. Each level was stacked using an alternate size like a log cabin.  My wife pre-drilled the holes with a 3/8ths bit to make it easier to drive them in and prevent splitting of the wood.  The 4 X 8 cedar timbers were joined together with six inch galvanized steel nails, many of them began by the kids and finished off by me.

Then, it was time to add the topsoil. We built one timber layer high using five bags of topsoil. Then, we laid down weed block sheeting, securing it with plastic spikes and spread the rest of the topsoil with a rake until it was three-quarters full. Once the bed was filled, the plants were put in. Behind the bed, we added Garden Treasures cedar trellises so that the cucumbers would be encouraged to climb once they started to spread.

With our leftover timber, we were able to build a small flower bed box for the kids to plant and take care of over the summer. They applied what they learned while building the first structure to create a bed of their own and chose plants based on what they liked.


10 Cedar 4 X 4 X 8 Landscaping timber
1 DeWalt 12 inch 15 amp Single Bevel Mitre Saw
36 Grip Rite 5 Gauge 6 inch Galvanized Nails
2 Garden Treasures 30 X 72 inch trellises
10 Grip Rite 10" Spikes (for base level)
20 bags .75 cu ft Scotts Topsoil
Dewalt measuring tape
Kobalt Drill (to pre-drill holes for nails)
Mini Sledge Hammer for driving in nails
Weedblock plastic and anchors

For more information about Lowes and their fine products, visit them on social media:

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For more inspiration, check out their Pinterest page as well as the Lowe’s Creative Ideas site.

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Lowe’s for this promotion.

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