Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 3 and a Compromise

As you may have guessed, our building work did not continue on Friday, I had a call on Thursday evening to go into work. Had I known how bad my back was going to be when I got up on Friday morning I probably would have declined, by the end of the first period I could hardly move and spent the rest of the day sloshing around the school with a hot water bottle stuffed up the back of my jacket. I just about managed to drive myself home to collapse on the lounge with my own hot water bottle and wonder how I could have such a short memory and not remember that only a short time ago I had spent weeks incapacitated with my stuffed up back. My poor attempt at regular back exercises and the walks I have been doing must have had some benefit as although it is extremely sore, I can still actually move, albeit slowly.
Steve had come to realise I was going to have my veggie garden, even if it meant doing myself some damage on the way, so rather than have to cook and look after me for weeks again, went and bought some new sleepers, cement and bolts and finished it off his way.
I stood in the garden in my very attractive pink PJ's and Ugg boots fetching small tools and offering my opinion when it obviously wasn't wanted. If I tried to lift something or do anything slightly strenuous, I got "the look" so made lots of cups of tea and tried to keep my mouth shut.

Here is the first new sleeper going on with the 2 foot long bolts, well maybe not THAT long and showing the obligatory bit of builders bum crack in the process.

One compromise I did have to make was loosing my new long pole as it was needed to attach the other end of the sleepers. Aesthetically it does look better with long poles just along the back but I had envisaged sweet peas growing up between those two poles.

So here is my finished veggie garden :) Not quiet as satisfying as if Karen and I had done it all ourselves but it does look good. The soil is shocking and needs lots of compost and things added to it, but as you can see, there is plenty of room to add more. I have bought some staples so I can have strings between the poles to grow beans and peas when spring arrives. At the moment I have a couple of variety's of cabbage, some spinach and shallots to go in. Time has become a factor to get this all done as I start a three week block at school next Monday that takes up to the school holidays and Steve had just booked 3 maybe 4 weeks holiday so we will be heading up North with the boat and loosing ourselves in the quiet contemplation of fishing for a while. By the time we come back, it will be close to spring planting time then I can get lots of new veggies into my new garden.
Here is a before and after pic, it's amazing what a bit of hard graft and bloody minded-ness can achieve.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Women's Business

Well I foolishly told Steve about my days work in the garden and we immediately got into the same argument about it being a waste of time and it wouldn't work and it would all fall down. Luckily it is dark by the time he comes home from work and he hasn't bothered to go and have a look at my feeble efforts before he goes off to work in the mornings, so today as soon as 7.30 am had come and gone and I knew I'd have no work and have the day to myself, I got Steve out the door then rang my friend Karen. After asking that loaded question "what are you up to today" and getting the hoped for response of "nothing really" put to her the idea of spending a day digging holes and pouring quick set cement and sweetened the whole thing with a promised trip to Bunnings, she was hooked :)
We spent a good hour or so wandering in circles in Bunnings as they have moved EVERYTHING and hidden the things we were looking for. Finally we had the car loaded up with poles, cement, brackets, screws, nails, a big planter, grow your own mushrooms and a few veggie plants. We surveyed our work area and formed a plan of action then had a bit of a sit in the sun with a good cup of coffee.

First came hole digging which proved to be a real task as the soil here isn't really soil at all after the first 5 - 6 inches, it's bright red thick clay, you can literally see a line where the top soil ends and the clay begins. Another hazard were tree roots as the holes were right next to an old stump. Now being girls we dug the easier of the two holes first, the one away from the wall, slightly in the wrong place but that was easily rectified. You can see the 6ft plus crow bar we are using smash our way through tree roots and clay. I must admit Karen did most of the crow bar swinging, but she seemed to be enjoying it :)

Then we started on the second hole and realised our mistake when I nearly fell down the first one, but we're smart cookies and won't make the same mistake again. This hole was almost impossible to dig out as it was more tree root than anything else, but we persevered and got a hole deep enough for the pole and a goodly amount of cement. A good belting with a sledge hammer helped drive it that bit deeper and we were confident we had done enough, so in went the cement then we left it to set while we had a late and much needed lunch.
The cement in the back hole wasn't setting real fast as there was a bit too much water in there, so we used the brackets and screws to start attaching the second lot of front logs. This was were I thought my original plan might have a flaw and wasn't sure if I could get them attached securely enough, but the brackets worked a treat and their as strong as they need to be, no stronger than necessary, capable of holding together a veggie garden without having to endure earthquakes and other natural disasters as required by your average (or not) engineer.

By 3 we had the first two front logs on but decided the cement would need to be left over night before we started driving in the nails to hold the ends on so we called it a day. I've sat my veggie plants on top of the earth pile so they are in situ. Hopefully the phone won't ring tomorrow and we can spend another day and get it finished. Tonight I have got to try and get some straps out of Steve's 4WD without him knowing as I'm not going through the whole it won't work speech again until I've proved him wrong - so we can buy a few more logs for the front as a couple are a bit dodgy
So end of day two and I am confident it will all work, sorry bad pic but late afternoon shadows. Having bought two lovely new poles, I am going to keep them long and have something hanging from them, not sure what yet, but I'm sure I'll find just the right thing. During all this hard work, I even managed to knock up a batch of Chelsea buns, with the help of the bread maker of course, which we had with a cuppa after lunch. Karen always works better if fed at regular intervals:) You can bet your bottom dollar that the phone will ring tomorow as I would love to get this finished before the weekend and Steve will see it in daylight, how good will it be if it's all done and standing with my cabbages all planted out. Ok better go and get out of these muddy jeans before my days exploits are exposed to the doubting one.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Piles of Dirt

A few months ago I had a discussion with Steve about starting a veggie patch, which turned into a long debate about what I could and couldn't do and how none of my ideas would work. We took several trips to Bunnings to price up sleepers and metal plates and god knows what else to hold it all together Now I just wanted a regular, slightly built up veggie patch but Steve was determined to build something that would be around for the next 150 years and strong enough to house a powerful and extremely dangerous small animal should the need arise. What is it with engineers!! Well the final cost came out at about $300, so we thought we would do it in two halves and see how it went, so I moved my herbs out of their garden, which is where the veggie patch is going, and waited.............................................

As you can see the herbs are well established - and I'm still waiting

This I took this morning of my now abandoned and neglected herb garden. What a sorry sight, so I took matters into my own hands and decided I would just make the garden half the height and twice as long and ta-dah a veggie garden. As soon as Steve was gone I got stuck into pulling weeds and tunnelling for those wretched roots of that horrible grass stuff that goes everywhere. Australian readers can probably tell me what it is, I just know it as a pain in the rear end. I'm not an early eater so by 9.30 I stopped for a much needed coffee and some toast and had got this far.

You can see now what I am aiming to do. I had to move my compost bin out of the way first so the compost is now on a tarp with I can drag around the garden until I'm ready to add it to the bed. The little tree that has grown up by that post will have to go, just one more job to make life a bit more difficult, and I have taken down half of the end wall.

Fortified with toast and honey, I thought about digging up the tall pole at the back and moving it to the "new end" of the garden, but as you can see, that mound of earth just kept growing and the concrete holding it in seemed to go on for ever, so I gave up on the idea. I thought the two poles might come in handy for growing tall things anyway.

By just after 12 I was stuffed and my back wasn't taking too kindly to all this digging and shifting. I need to get a couple of new end poles and some quick dry cement to hold them in. Then I have to find a way of holding the front poles together, my plans always have one major flaw and I think this might be it, but it is beginning to take shape.

Unlike someone I wont mention, I put away all the tools I had used and lined up the barrow and compost neatly against the wall ready for my next effort. The compost bin has a bit of a lean to it, but I think it will survive :)