I'm having some doubts about my plan to rebuild the garden with new beds and enclosing the space in chicken wire! Everything I think I need to do first has something else to do before that. You may recall that I took apart the frames from two 4'x4' beds a few days ago.
Well, when I went out today to start to dig out an old tree and some brambles in one of them, I realized that I had to remove the carpet in the paths between them (and between ALL the framed beds first. Digging out a old tree (mostly just roots with persistent suckers I have been trying to kill for 10 years) takes more room than just the 4x4 frame removed.
Why did I have carpeting between the framed beds? Well, as the guy who jumped into the cactus patch said "It seemed like a good idea at the time". But seriously, it DID seem like a good idea 20 years ago. I had just switched from carpet to wood floors, I had all this leftover carpet, I was building framed beds with muddy weedy paths, and smothering the weeds with the leftover carpet seemed like a good idea. I even put black plastic sheeting under the carpet so weeds couldn't grow through the carpet.
Weeds are astonishingly determined...
The carpet is nearly impossible to pull up. It is in 3' wide paths, and 2 decades of vines have sent roots into the plastic below and the carpet above. Not above the carpet (even weeds and vines have limits). But the roots interlock, and they do best at the edges. Yanking the carpet up was like pulling old plywood siding off walls by hand. It was inch by inch prying it up with several tools.
And it was HEAVY! I finally had to cut through it every 4' and the cutting did not go easily. You would think that 20 year old carpet would just fall apart. No way! I have an old carpet knife my Dad made back in the early 50s (seriously, he worked in a machine shop at the time and made stuff like that "for fun") and I keep it sharp (it is VERY useful for many things). Its curved like a 5" scimitar.
Even using THAT every 4' of carpet took hard work. And the pieces of carpet seem to weigh a ton! There is inches of soil attached from plant roots, the carpet is wet and carpet is heavier than you may think. Its all 40 lbs of dead weight. I pick it up and it sags all over. I finally learned to fold it in 3rds to carry it to a place to pile it up (where I will use the riding lawn mower and a tow cart to bring it to the hauling trailer so I can bring it too the landfill.
It took 3 hours to pull half of the carpet up. It was 6pm, so I stopped to go inside and make dinner. That's when the hand cramps started! I live a life of general activity punctuated with intense activity (like today) and muscle cramps are not new to me. But these were bad.
Everytime I clenched my hand (however lightly) around a knife handle and tried to open a bottle or jar, my left hand muscles seized up painfully until I massaged them few minutes. That lasted for about 5 minutes until the next cramp. Then the right hand started...
I either have to do less physical work or more. I think I'll try more. And more regularly!
But the point is that there is a LOT more to this project than I realized at first. There are tree roots (from neighbor trees) under the carpet paths, there are evil vines. And I still have to dig up the tree stump an suckers from that one 4x4 bed and dig out the brambles and roses I don't want in the garden. This could take a couple of weeks, and I'm not 40 anymore.
I might have to adapt my plan to do half this Spring and the rest next Fall.