email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Garden Renovation

Wow, it's been a week since I last posted...

I started renovating the garden area in April and found really hard work there.  I had put down various layers of weed-blocking material over the years, and they got covered with dirt.  LOTS of dirt!  Vining weeds grew among them and tree roots from the neighbor's' trees got in there too.

Pulling and cutting them all up was HORRIBLE!  It all falls into the "I can't believe I thought that was a good idea at the time" category!  I pulled the stuff up by brute strength mere inches at a time.  I shoved a 6' breaker bar under it all and pried it loose.  I cut it into manageable chunks with a curved rug-cutting knife and a razor knife.

I estimate it took 40 hours of hard frustrating work.  And it's not complete YET.  But is IS cut and removed for the area I want to rebuild framed beds with a chicken wire enclosure to keep the evil squirrels out.

I'm 64.  I can't do the hard work like I could when I was 35.  I had to do all of it 1 hour work, 1 hour rest inside and drinking gatorade to replenish.

But I finished it...

A few days ago, I hooked up a small yard cart (about 2.5 feet by 4 feet) to my riding lawn mower and started heaving the heavy sodden pieces of underlays into the trailer.  Then I drove my mower to the front yard and heaved those pieces into the 5'x8' hauling trailer.  It damn near killed me.  Then I drove the hauling trailer to the landfill, along with other junk and regular trash I have collected.  And hauled it all off again.  That means I had to handle each damn piece of underlay 4 times. 

Fortunately, I designed my hauling trailer so that I can remove the back and just drag all the junk off the back end.  And pulling the junk DOWN is going to be  LOT easier than lifting it UP.

The rest of the work is moving good garden soil from the existing (falling-apart) beds, breaking the old frames apart (and removing the old wood), leveling the new surface, building new beds, and moving the good garden soil to the new beds.

And even THAT won't be straight-forward work.  Since I'm rebuilding where the existing beds are (only place in my yard with half-decent sunlight), I have to do it in stages.  My old beds were small 8'x3' framed beds; the new ones will be 16'x4' (more space efficient because there is less wasteful path-space between them).  I will more than double my planting area in the same overall space.

I've moved enough existing soil and old frames to built the first new 16'x3' bed.  Then I will empty the existing beds soil into that.  Then I can tear THAT old wood apart and level THAT space and built the 2nd new framed 16'x3' bed. And THEN finally tear the old frames apart for the 3rd new framed bed...

WHEW!  And because the new beds will require more soil than the old ones, I'll only be filling each 1/2 way with existing soil.  So I'll be hauling in compost to mix in and fill the new ones. 

The good news is that the soil I've already dug up and piled onto other beds is now loose and easy to move.  The old soil had vine and tree roots in it and was Hard-As-Hell to dig into and move and I also had to spend time pulling the roots out of the soil lest they grow new Evil Plants.

My main gardening is not going to happen this year.  By the time I finish this rebuilding project, it will be too late to even plant crops for Fall harvest.  Fortunately, I took some space from my annual flowerbed to plant heirloom tomatoes, flat italian beans, and seedless cucumbers.  And I have bicolor corn, fingerling potatoes, and leeks growing in large containers.  Those are my favorite crops, as they are either expensive or difficult to find in local grocery stores.

Some pictures...

Prying up the old carpet.  Note the black plastic below that.  And there was synthetic (unrottable) "burlap" below that.
Had to pry it loose from below and the sides.
One of MANY piles of heavy pieces of cut carpet.  The pieces are deceptively heavy.
The lost herb bed.  I finally just dug it all up.  I'll start a new herb bed,
A 4" diameter tree trunk I had to dig out.  With axe, shovel, and pry-bar.

The first area cleared of soil, vines, unwanted tree saplings, and old frame wood.
A corn-planting container.  I have 3.  It's a month-old picture.  The 8 corns are 6" high, and I've planted leeks in between the corn .
I won't have a "normal" garden this year, but I'll get by.  Next year, I'll have a fine new enclosed garden the damn squirrels, rabbits, and groundhogs can't get into!



Over time my husband and I removed all the shrubbery (too much trimming) from around our house. Several bed had roots entwined with tree roots. Even taking the pick up to pull the shrubs took effort. One shrub we just had to leave it wouldn't come up. So I understand both the hard work and the age factor. Now that I have only flowers planted it is so much easier for me to maintain.

Megan said...

An incredible and inspiring effort, Mark. Thanks for the pics.

Sydney, Australia