Making Life Easy October 2014
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As one attains a certain chronological condition, one must examine how to make life easier without hitting the couch!
The backyard garden just got too big for Paul to manage plus it generated too many veggies! The old body is not as good as it used to be when we put in the garden 20 years ago. It was time to redesign!
Our backyard garden was 25' by 30' or 750 square feet. While it was quite functional and grew tons of crops, it was a load of work. It was hands-and-knees to do the weeding, watering was difficult as you do not want to wet all the leaves, picking required stepping over a 30" wall every time your basket became full.
In May of 2003 it was a jungle
Every year we were on our hands and knees making rows, running the roto-tiller,
and setting up the watering... In 60 days it was jungle again.
We tried mulch to keep weeds down, we separated the pants so we could
walk betwee rows... Still a lot of work! Must be a better way!
We studied, looked, discussed.... We have a plan!
The New Design
The redesign called for 24" concrete pathways every four feet so we ended up with four "gardens" each 25' by 4' (plus we left a 4' by 25' wide area along the north wall) so we now have about 500 square feet... a reduction of 250 square feet. Plenty of room to grow all the veggies we need and then some.
Now we can sit on the wall and reach in and weed the garden, the picking is much easier having not to climb over walls, and being able to prune as they grow will drastically improve the harvests. Also, we had new 20/80 soil brought in. Even with 15 years of rototilling and composting the soil, it was still mostly clay/adobe.
We are going to make use of the local Extension Services located at the OC Fair Grounds: 1045 Arlington Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 to assure our soil is optimal.
Raised Bed Gardening
Raised bed gardening offers many benefits such as improved soil, higher yields, ease of access, longer growing seasons, and better pest control. Raised beds can be set up almost anywhere—regardless of soil conditions and with less effort than digging—to produce more vegetables per square foot, which makes them the perfect solution for urban gardening.
Demolition And Reconstruction Begins On 10/17/2014
Tear out the old... Keep as much as you can out of the pool
10/17/2014 – 9:37 AM - We are underway
Did You Know? - The fastest way to get that deep layer of fertile soil is to make raised beds. Raised beds yield up to four times more than the same amount of space planted in rows. That's due not only to their loose, fertile soil but also to efficient spacing—by using less space for paths, you have more room to grow plants.
We have put $1000's of dollars of soil amendments into this dirt and it was still clay
It was tough remembering what Paul had done 20 years ago
we he laid in the electrical outlets !
We busted out the back wall so it would be only
3-4 feet wide and taper into the new walls
Did You Know? - To get the maximum yields from each bed, pay attention to how you arrange your plants. Avoid planting in square patterns or rows. Instead, stagger the plants by planting in triangles. By doing so, you can fit 10 to 14 percent more plants in each bed.
Gosh... Paul remembered the water lines! Time to redesign them
They made excellent progress 10/17/2014 – 1:20 PM -
Apparently demolition is easy!
The future concrete pathways are taking shape
Ready for the masonry people...
10/22/2014 We Got Deliveries
We woke up and everything was delivered 10/22/2014 – 8:11 AM
The drain pipes are connected and end up at the curb
Did You Know? - One reason raised beds are so effective for increasing efficiency and yields is that crops produce better because the soil in the beds is deep, loose, and fertile.
Plants benefit from the improved soil drainage and aeration, and plant roots penetrate readily. Weeds are easy to pull up, too. Since gardeners stay in the pathways, the soil is never walked upon or compacted.
Soil amendments and improvement efforts are concentrated in the beds and not wasted on the pathways, which are simply covered with mulch or planted with grass or a low-growing cover crop. Also, the raised bed's rounded contour provides more actual growing area than does the same amount of flat ground.
10/23/2014 Progress Is Underway
Paint marks further digging
10/24 We Have Serious Masonry Underway
The first walk way is taking shape
Did You Know? - Raised beds also save time and money because you need only dig, fertilize, and water the beds, not the paths. You don't need to weed as much when crops grow close together, because weeds can't compete as well.
Gardeners with limited mobility find raised beds the perfect solution—a wide sill on a framed raised bed makes a good spot to sit while working. A high frame puts plants in reach of a gardener using a wheelchair. For best access, make beds 28 to 30 inches high, and also keep the beds narrow—no more than 4 feet wide—so it's easy to reach to the center of the bed.
Dig here... Dig there
The drain pipe is in position
Did You Know? - Rich soil coupled with intensive gardening practices are what make raised bed gardening so successful. Intensive horticulture has been practiced for centuries in many parts of the world. In America, one of the best-known methods is French intensive gardening. Intensive gardening methods all have their own disciplines, but all use raised growing beds, close spacing between plants, careful attention to building and maintaining soil fertility, and succession planting to make the best use of available growing space.
Each wall has rebar in the foundation and also in the wall
Did You Know? - Rebar (short for reinforcing bar), also known as reinforcing steel, reinforcement steel and colloquially in Australia as reo, is a steel bar or mesh of steel wires used as a tension device in reinforced concrete and reinforced masonry structures, to strengthen and hold the concrete in tension. The surface of the rebar may be patterned to form a better bond with the concrete.
Concrete is a material that is very strong in compression, but relatively weak in tension. To compensate for this imbalance in concrete's behavior, rebar is cast into it to carry the tensile loads.
Masonry structures and the mortar holding them together have similar properties to concrete and also have a limited ability to carry tensile loads. Some standard masonry units like blocks and bricks are made with voids to accommodate rebar, which is then secured in place with grout. This combination is known as reinforced masonry.
The corners are being laid... They are rounded so as to match the existing walls
We Had Company On 10/25
Mr. Squirrel was checking in on the redesign
Guess we scared him
The corners are being turned
Did You Know? - Good soil is 50 percent solids and 50 percent porous space, which provides room for water, air, and plant roots. The solids are inorganic matter (fine rock particles) and organic matter (decaying plant matter).
The inorganic portion of the soil can be divided into three categories based on the size of the particles it contains. Clay has the smallest soil particles; silt has medium-size particles; and sand has the coarsest particles. The amount of clay, silt, and sand in a soil determine its texture. Loam, the ideal garden soil, is a mixture of 20 percent clay, 40 percent silt, and 40 percent sand.
The pathways are taking shape
Did You Know? - One reason that raised beds are so productive is that they are planted intensively, putting as much as 80 percent of a garden's surface area into crop production. Pathways and spaces between crop rows make up the remainder.
Plants are placed close together over the entire bed, usually in a triangular or staggered pattern, so that their leaves overlap slightly at maturity. This allows for more plants per square foot and produces a continuous leafy canopy that shades the bed, moderates soil temperature, conserves moisture, and discourages weeds.
Close spacing also means planting must be carefully planned according to each crop's growing habits, including root spread, mature size, and water and nutrient needs.
Significant Progress By 10/29
The electric is now installed
The 24" wide walkways are clearly visible
By Friday the walls ought to be in and perhaps the red caps
Did You Know? - Slump Block is a concrete masonry block that is removed from the mold before it has had a chance to completely set. This causes the concrete block to retain a slightly slumped appearance.
The walkways will be dug out and concrete
poured such that it will drain to the center
More work than it looks like
We think the grapes have got to go... Need the area for tomatoes
11/1/2014 The Tops Are Added
It's starting to take shape and be recognizable
The drain pipes will keep the dirt from the pool ...
The pathways are 24 inches wide
The dirt in the gardens will be dug out and replace with the real stuff
The corners take some time
Did You Know? - Bullnose is a term used in building construction for rounded convex trim, particularly in masonry and ceramic tile.
The planters are almost 30 feet long and easy to get to!
Another day and we will be ready to pour the walkways