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Garden Beds

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

Friday the 12th I took a Bodaboda to Mukono. It is about 35km riding on the back of the bodaboda. We went to Mukono to pick up sample Cinder Blocks to show our Director the quality difference and why I had chosen the company I have for my garden bed project...

What is the Garden Bed project you ask?!

Why, don’t mind if I do...

Gardening has been the most essential part of the Org. It is what feeds our crew, us and is sold to support the staff as well. It is currently however built on a rock, a GIANT rock. The dirt that we use is the dirt that was excavated for the well on the farm.

SO, every rain storm and man, Oregon, you do not know rain lol, much of the dirt washes away, meaning there is a lot of money spent on adding manure and mulch and additives to keep the soil healthy all for it to be washed away in a week.

I have had a raised garden in the back of my rental in Oregon for the last 7ish years. I have a passion for it, I love to see my food grow, to know where it came from, what was used to grow it and learn how to improve it every year as well. I really started to get better at crop rotation and fertilization these last few years. Even with a rough crop in 2020 many of my plants did great and it was fun. Now, this year here in Uganda we are shifting to raised garden beds. We are making a starter garden with six 36” high beds that will be 54” wide end to end and 196”long end to end.

(I’ll be honest the math has changed, and might again so I am just leaving these as the numbers lol)

I have been doing a LOT of research on cinder block garden beds, saw a lot of cool tricks that we are excited to try, and have done more math than I care to admit haha. But I have loved every step of it so far.

Then Saturday the 20th we went to back Mukono on Bodaboda to see what kind of bricks I was even able to get, the quality, the price and the quantity. Our first trip on Friday I met at guy “Jimmy” who has been so accommodating. I told him what I am doing and he has NEVER heard of it so he is excited to partner with us, get photos and then market the idea himself lol. He gave me a discount because I was kind and then he gave me a second discount because of the quantity that I needed. He showed he is here to accommodate whatever need I have, showed me a new brick they are using and offered me a deal on it. I actually loved it and proffered it to the original we discussed, brought it back showed the quality difference from the “reputable” shop and from Jimmy’s and Jimmy won hands down.

So this coming Thursday, the 25th we will have about 1100 bricks delivered and we will begin the’s the catch, ALL the cinder blocks in Uganda have bottoms...I should have taken a photo. But the standard 8x8x16 cinder block in the states from Home Depot that costs about $0.88 USD has holes that go all the way through. You should be able to picture that. These look the same, but the molds that hey use put bottoms or “cover” the holes... so the cinder block has two cup holders rather than holes haha

The first shop we went to showed us how we can make the holes go all the way through by taking a rock and hitting it, and taking his foot and kicking it....I looked at Barnabas (my co worker and the farm manager) and we both went “uh yeah no that’s terrible quality”...we took the sample though just to confirm it against Jimmy’s. Jimmy’s lead engineer than showed me the same thing, however in order for him to make the hole go through he had to grab a sturdy metal hammer and hit it VERY hard. Barnabas and I looked at each other and smirked at the same time. We knew we found our blocks.

Here’s why integrity matters. Rain. These beds unlike the beds I have built in the states will have a block in the ground. The rain is so intense that it can literally wash anything away. So we need to anchor them into the ground. I wasn’t going to use mortar on the blocks but I was quickly informed the integrity would be necessary...planning for price gets crazy. I am used to just dealing with everything myself, my own finances, my own fumbles and my own results. This time through as I am doing this on behalf of an organization I need to consider the costs of the blocks, the mortar, proofer, rebar, fertilizer, added soil, sand, support braces for the plants, humanure v manure, trucks for delivery, price of trucks, amount of trucks (remember we live 35km from the nearest town, on dirt roads, with giant mile long pot holes lol), size of trucks, trucks capacity.....

The point is there is a LOT to think about. And the best part is that I have had to re-do the numbers on the beds at least 7 times...I could say ten but that might be an exaggeration by one...haha ugh thankfully I love math. And yes kids, you WILL use math after school....all the time in fact.

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