email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Garden Enclosure

I'm back at the 20'x20' garden enclosure project.  And while my initial goal was to maximize the framed bed area and minimize lumber purchases, I've concluded that I need to make some changes.

First, the framed beds were planned to be three 16'x4' beds.  And two 8" wide boards high per bed.  Second, my plan was to use only 2 of the 3 planned beds each year and let 1 go fallow (and solarized with a clear plastic cover) each year.  But even a 2" thick board will bend out over 16', so that meant annoying stakes for reinforcement.

And, well, a 2"x8"x16' board is really hard to handle.  And keeping 1/3 the growing space fallow/solarized each year seems wasteful.  So instead of those 3 framed beds, I'm building six beds 4'x7', two 8" boards high .  That means I can build all the framed beds using 2"x8"x8' boards, which I can haul home in my 8' trailer and I can actually carry those boards.  With 6 beds instead of 3, I can keep 1 bed fallow and solarized each year with less growing-space loss, walk around them easier, and build them easier.  I lose 24 square feet growing area (the 2' between the beds), but I gain 28 sq ft not being fallow each year, so its a wash.

I drew some pictures, but I just can't get the scanner function on the printer to work today (again)...   The first plan had three 16'x4' beds side by side.  The new plan has six 4'x7' beds in a 2x3 grid.  I had to draw rectangles in Word On Mac, print it out, take a picture of the printout, and upload the picture.  I'm just having a bad month with programs.

But here it is and you BETTER appreciate the effort to show it!!!  LOL!
 I spent about 5 hours fighting over several days with the usual programs to draw/scan/display, with no luck.  But it only took 2 minutes to draw it in Word, 1 to print it, 1 to take a camera picture of the printed page, and 3 minutes to get it to a small jpeg file.  Sometimes indirect ways are easier.

I need to reteach myself a lot of the programs; I don't use them enough.  And I suspect I better clean up my Mac.  It's running slower and even a Mac can get clutterred.

Anyway, I went out to dig the first of 9 holes to set pipes into to construct the enclosed garden (safe from squirrels, groundhogs, rabbits, etc).  After I dug down 4" in the 1st spot, I hit rock.  And I don't mean little baseball-sized ones.  I dug a 2' hole around that rock and couldn't find the edge.  So I tried the next spot where I wanted to set in a pipe.  Same problem.  I even tried breaking the rock up with repeated blows to it with a 5' beveled "breaker bar".  And nothing broke.  I caused no damage to the rock at all.

You never know what is under your ground until you start digging into it!  In my case, I knew from some experience that my property is a silt plain draining to a swamp.  There are pockets of pure sand, some of pure clay, and lots of hand-sized round rocks.  I didn't know about the 2'+ rocks...

I think a geologist would conclude my property used to be a river path, with large rocks just under the surface that silted over with sand and clay millenia ago. 

I can't dig those up, I can't use an auger to drill through them, I can't ignore them.

Well, wait, I CAN ignore them!  The purpose of digging the holes around the garden-to-be is merely to set the upright PVC pipes in place.  So what if I build a base of PVC pipes ON the ground instead of INTO the ground?

Instead of burying pipes in the ground, I'll make a frame of pipes on the ground with attachment connections sticking up.  And I can attach the ground level PVC pipes to the ground firmly with 2' rebar rods.

Newest problen solved...  I assume I will discover other problems before the structure is completed, but nothing that can't be overcome.  Well, solving the problems is half the fun.

The initial plan was to assemble the upright pipes and then assemble the beds after.  The plan NOW is to assemble the first 2 raised beds to establish one edge of the new layout, fill them with soil, then disassemble the other old framed beds, and clear THAT area for new construction and move the remaining soil from the older beds to the new ones as I move along.

I know this is hard to imagine without pictures.  I'll be taking many as the project continues.  Promise.

But at least I am getting started on it again and solving the problems I didn't expect.

1 comment:

Megan said...

I'm writing to say I appreciate the trouble you went to to provide us with a pic, Mark. However, the design was well described in words, so it probably wasn't necessary. LOL (Sorry!)

I'm looking forward to the pics of your progress.

Sydney, Australia