Makin’ Beds

Oh yes, I did.

I got distracted.

I know, in my last post I dangled out kitchen tips and organizing projects and such.  And I meant it, I really did.

I began the process of redecorating and reorganizing our kitchen, working out these winter soft arms, bulking up my stamina, and making a genuine mess of the house.

Then I stalled.

I got distracted.

Lured away from my diligent project by the siren call of Spring!

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Garden 2013

This is the garden bed that was put to rest last season.  Covered with hay, it lay dormant through 2012.  Then last month, Hubby said he wanted to till.

Well, add a few warm days post till, and here’s what a Dreamin’ Girl will do with opportunity – make garden beds!

Garden 2013???????????

To accomplish this, I tooth-raked the tilled soil up into the bed structures, leaving the cleared paths in their wake.

Next, I rolled out and cut lengths of landscape cloth to line the paths, then threw discarded rugs over the top of the landscape cloth.

I rummaged through our various material piles to line the beds with bricks and limbs and stones.

This was a lot of work, but I was feeling pretty stoked about finally having a few permanent garden beds to be able to intersperse perennials.  The remaining garden plot was going to be similarly plotted, with larger areas to grow cantaloupe and pumpkins.

Then, I read an article that reminded me of my hopes to put in a hugelkultur bed.  :)

Yessirreee, I did:

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The bed is dug down about a foot in the center, with the internal trench being about two foot wide.  The neighboring lot had a pile of rotting cottonwood logs, which were piled into the bed.   The sides were also trenched in about six inches deep to provide irrigation, then the branches were placed over to spare ankles and such.

I patted down the entire mound to tamp the soil, then created terraces for planting.

With the remaining area, I relocated the cattle panel trellis from the front garden:

Garden 2013

This will come in quite handy for planting pole beans.  The inward soil is already prepped with spinach seed.

Garden 2013

Here’s the view of the prepped beds, with cold crops added:  grape vines, raspberry bush, blueberry bush, hyssop and poppy seed, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale, beets, sugar snap peas, shelling peas, carrots, radish, onion seed and garlic.

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And the view after the hay was added to line the paths.  It’s beginning to look a lot like a garden!

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And it comes with a bit of whimsy.

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The strawberry plants survived the neglect and the drought in the water trough planter.  I finally added water to the reservoir just last week.  The plants were using only the moisture that winter provided.

Now, back to the kitchen.  :)

How are your garden plans?

Dreamin’ Girl

Cold Frame – Part 2

We’re back!  I’ll try to stay on task.  I’m ready to wrap up this job.  In case you’ve missed the first two posts, here they are:

Cold Frame Preface

Cold Frame Part I

Where were we – oh, yes, not all bricks are equal.

Once I find the pattern of brick sizes I’ll need, I loose stack the bricks, slightly alternating them to give a measure of stability.  It just happened that the fit worked out to slide one brick in upright at the end of the row. Whew! Close call. I didn’t even think of the fit between corner blocks.

I did pound the bricks with – you guessed it – a brick, to get them fairly level. Once the back wall is done it’s time to measure the width. The front corner areas are measured and dug. Now, what will best fit here?

We have just a few of the double brick pavers, so I start with them – but I’ll need bricks stacked sideways to create the width I have determined. (Note: after reviewing the photos, I’ll be returning to the project to exchange the pavers and sideways bricks for better stability.)

Time for the test – I bring out the door and lay it on the U shape I’ve built. It’s not going to pass an inspection for perfection, but it’s going to work, practically so.

I measure at intervals and dig in the shovel to mark the distance, then dig out a line for my front wall.

Lay the bricks for the front row.  Hmmm… it looks like the center is sagging a bit.  If I were striving for perfection, the back row would be restacked (since I didn’t catch the sag until I reviewed these pictures) – but part of being practical is determining to allow for imperfections.  We’re going to call this design air flow.  :)

Dig out the remaining dirt to set flush with the first layer of bricks on the front wall. Some will go to the compost pile, and some is used to fill the concrete block corners.

Stack the bricks, alternating with a few half bricks, to form a stable front wall.  Isn’t that half brick a beauty?

I noticed the door handle, which protrudes on both side (as door handles do, hehe), so I left a gap in the center of the top row of bricks.

That gap is larger than I need, perhaps there’s a brick that would fill in well here?

Ah, just right! Good thing all bricks are not equal. :)

Now, to clean up my mess. There’s dirt to dump, and leaves to add to the compost.

Ah, here’s a project for another day – how many cold frames can one person have? Actually, I have to confess, I’m thinking about setting up a hot frame on the north, shady side of the house, to start fall crops.

Most projects are also a treasure hunt – here are the goodies from this project.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?  Or, practically speaking, I kept these items out of the compost pile!

Tools and gloves back in their places… in my practical garage gardening cabinet.  It’s a found item, free, with a great porcelain covered metal top that cleans up easily.  My practical approach allows the garage items to look like they belong in the garage:  with grunge appeal, and for practical use (we get dirty here).  No need to waste time prettying it up unless I have way too much time on my hands. 

And the finished product – pending slight rework.  (Start Rocky song now, before my muscles catch onto the pain that’s to come)!

You’ll note that I placed that fifth concrete block in front of the frame.  With the loose stack brick method, I thought it would be practical for an added measure of support.  We’ll see how that works…

Also, the door has been easy to lift and set behind the back wall of the frame, so there was no need for hinges, or a tie back method, or a lid prop.  I’ll test it for functionality soon and make a revision post if the need arises.

Later!

Dreamin’ Girl

Cold Frame – Part 1

OK, where were we? Oh yes, back to the task at hand.  Sorry, I rabbit trailed again.

The space is finally cleared of our squatters. The leaves and debris are raked from the ground (compost pile fodder! Another project for today :) and the starts of the cold frame are set to one side. Hubby has been great help, but now he needs to go rest his overworked back.

I assemble my tools: spring rake, bow rake, shovel, measuring tape, and level. Don’t forget to wear sturdy leather gloves and good solid shoes!

Measure the door that will serve as a lid for the frame.  Then, measure the area to be certain it’s cleared.

Mark out the space to set the rear corner stones. I have five concrete blocks, so I’ll use two in each back corner, slightly angled to allow water runoff.  Dig down two or three inches to have stability at the base of the frame. Once the blocks are set in place, I measure again to make certain they’re squared up and correct distance for the lid.

The small level comes in handy to check the slope.

Dig out the back line packing the dirt down flush so that the bricks will set level. The first row was lower at one end than the other, so I back-filled with dirt to level the row.

This project is not going to be a precise one, but it should be fairly solid. A newly learned fact: all bricks are not created equal (and now a break from our regular program to gaze at some art).

Wasn’t that a nice break?  Yes, I do enjoy color and texture.  I appreciate my eyes – my sense of sight.  Yes, yes, I’ll stop before I overdo my public announcements.

Without further ado – we’ll continue this in the next post.  I think it’s time for a drink, don’t you?

Dreamin’ Girl

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