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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Been Busy, Part 1

Well, OK, I always TRY to stay busy doing something useful around the house each day, but some things aren't worth reporting on.  I'm pretty sure no one cares that I mopped the floors, did laundry, paid bills, weeded gardens, cleaned litter boxes, etc.  Not that those things don't take time and have to be done, but they aren't generally things I bother to post about. 

So, having been busy with such routine things, I haven't posted for a week.

I am pleased to say that the last 3 days have been at least a bit more busy on interesting things.  They fall into 3 categories:  Garden, Clutter, and "Other Stuff".  And because each part gets a bit long, I'm going to address one of the 3 parts in separate posts.

First (today) is the garden, and there are several parts to that work over the past week. 

A) While I was pleased to announce that the free-standing screen door to the new garden enclosure was finally completed previously, it apparently wasn't quite.  The posts have settled slightly, and even with metal corner braces, the door rubs on the top of the frame, and I can see that heavy rains will always make it a little bit loose.  So I designed some support structures of PVC pipe braces that should help.

B) The climbing plants need trellises to, well, climb.  Pole beans and cucumbers mostly.  So I designed some basic PVC pipe frame that can support concrete mesh wire.

C) The vining crops like melons spread out in all directions and need to be constrained to their own framed beds.

D) Raising one side of the frame 1/4".  That doesn't sound like much, but it is the difference between the door sticking and not.

So, a week ago, for part A) I went shopping at the Big D-I-Y stores looking for the parts that would brace the free-standing screen door.  I don't want to get overly detailed, but the idea was to attach 2 PVC pipes from the door frame to the nearest upright PVC post on each side of the door, and 2 from the horizontal post above down to the top of the door frame.  It was just a best guess of holding the free-standing door frame in place. 

The D-I-Y stores didn't have the right attachments, so I improvised.  That didn't work.  Part involved cutting the upright posts to add a "tee", and I realized that the upright posts were so locked in place by the chicken wire enclosure that I couldn't get that tee installed.  There is something called a "snap tee" that doesn't involve cutting the upright posts.  Literally, you just cement and push the snap tee onto a pipe. 
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But that part that sticks up in the picture has to fit into another pipe, and somehow it just wont.  I suppose it is designed for some other purpose.  Then it struck me that a connector fitting (intended to attach 2 PVC pipes together) might work.

 It wasn't tight as if designed for the purpose, but close enough to cement after several applications.  And if the cement doesn't hold, I can put a bolt though it to get the same holding effect.

The trellis frames, part B) were a lot easier.  They are just an upside-down "U" of PVC pipe with the bottoms attached to the outsides of the framed beds in the back of the garden (so as to not shade the other lower-growing plants).

"Easier" doesn't mean "easy" though.  I still had problems.  I wanted the PVC pipe uprights to be solidly attached to the framed beds so I could then attach 6" grid concrete mesh wire to them.  I wanted them to be level up and sideways, and 2' below the top of the enclosure (so the vines wouldn't crawl up through the top). 

So I made a cardboard template that was even to the top and side of the frames.  Repeatability is wonderful.  I used the cardboard template to mark drilling spots in the frames.  I then used the template to mark drilling spots on the PVC upright pipes. 

Since the uprights had to be 7' (from a 10" PVC pipe, they had to be cut.  I tried clamping the pipes to 2 sawhorses, but the vibration from my saws-all
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kept knocking the clamps loose.  I had to bring the 6 pipes inside the clamp them to the sturdier workbench.  Cut to 7' lengths, I then had to mark the spots to drill holes to match the pilot holes in the garden frames.  That's where the cardboard template helped A LOT!  The same holes in the cardboard HAVE to match up to the pilot holes in the garden frames, right?

We'll find out tomorrow...

Part C) was serendipitous.   I needed a whole lot of small bamboo stakes to keep guiding my free-ranging melon vines back into the beds.  Packs of 25 bamboo stakes cost about $7 and I need a few dozen.  But I was shopping at Target today and found 12" kitchen bamboo skewers 80 for $1.27.  That works for me!

One of the most useful discoveries I've made in life is that products meant for a purpose are expensive, but very similar things meant for another purpose can be quite cheap.  My favorite example is a plastic scoop.
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Not the exact product, but an example... In a pet store, it was $6.  In a hardware store, it was $3.  Same thing, different customer...  *I* use the scoop to transfer the kitty litter in the 35# buckets into more wieldy smaller containers.

But back to the bamboo skewers...  I want to guide the melon vines in circles to keep them in the beds and out of the paths.  The 12" skewers will work just fine for that!

Part D), raising one side of the door frame 1/4" is a bit trickier.  I've figured out a way to do it.  I'm going to screw a short scrap of 2"x4" board near the bottom of the post I want to raise 1/4".  I will put a brick on the ground and stomp on it hard to make sure it won't settle deeper.  Then I'll use another 2x4 to use as a lever to pry the attached 2x4 1/4" higher.  I'll clamp it temporarily until I can wedge shims between the brick and the screwed 2x4.

That will hold the post up the 1/4" I need.  But it is going to have to stay there for months until routine ground expansion and rain fills in the spot.  Bet it is still there several years from now, LOL!

Despite the 4x4 posts being set 2' deep in the soil, I bet I'll always have to adjust the screen door frame from year to year.  Some things never stop needing attention.

I originally got the idea of building a chicken-wire-covered garden enclosure from a website HERE 

But I found some problems with the design, and fixed them for myself.  Well, I hope everyone improves on construction ideas they find on the internet or elsewhere, mine included.

You would be amazed at the way things travel around the internet.  

Next posts:  "Clutter" and "Other Stuff"...

1 comment:

Megan said...

Phew! I do admire your perseverance, Mark! I make patchwork quilts and it's widely known among quiltmakers that some so-called specialist tools sold in a patchwork shop can also be found at half the price in a hardware store - called by a different name! LOL

Sydney, Australia