Thursday, July 16, 2009

Free Retaining Walls and Plants on Clearance

We were at Wal-Mart on Sunday and I checked out the garden area to see if there were any vegetable plants on clearance. It's late in the season to be starting anything, but they had a surprising amount of plants available, many of which should be capable of maturing in time.

To be specific I purchased two pumpkin plants and two cucumbers, since the rows I tried to grow my pumpkin and cucumber seeds in this year were too cold and dark. I also bought a pack of six heads of red lettuce and two red bell peppers which both have a very short 30 day average maturity.

I immediately planted the cucumbers in the end of my row of beans since there was a two foot, space where the beans didn't manage to sprout up. This was also the easiest place to plant them, since I already made a small fence-trellis for the beans to grow on. The rest of the plants would not be so easy.

I knew that the two rows I had already tilled in the spring, but couldn't get any growth in, were not going to work, especially since there isn't much time left before fall (I'll need all the sun I can get). Expanding isn't terribly difficult since I have a tiller now, it would just be a matter of tilling in another section, that is, if it weren't for the invisible fence wire that was buried close to the garden.

It has been about a year and a half since we finished burying the invisible fence wire to keep Abby from going on adventures outside the yard, so the exact location was overgrown and very hard to see but I knew a few locations where the line would be and used those points as a starting reference. I used a small spade, and dug to expose the wire at about three foot intervals. It was only one or two inches under ground in most places, and the soil was dry, so it was fairly easy to locate at first. After making five or six marks, I was directly in front of the garden, where I needed to Till, and decided that I would have to move the line (at least eventually). I pulled up on the line gently in one of the exposed locations to see if it would budge at all to decide how difficult extraction would be and it snapped. This was no big surprise, since it was 18 gauge wire with a very thin rubber coating, but it meant that I had no choice but to lay all new wire in a new path now.

A few weekends ago, I found someone who was giving away telephone poles on Craigslist. They were in Belfair, and buy the time they got back to me and we could meet up on a weekend, they only had a few good poles left. I brought my saw and cut up 5 six foot lengths of pole. My intention all along was to make a small retaining wall about ten feet from the garden, so that I could expand my garden next year, and make my upper lawn healthier in the process. Of course, to keep Abby from digging in the fresh dirt of the garden, I was going to have to move the invisible fence wire anyway, I just didn't think I would have to do it so soon.

I got out a large digging spade and made a trench exactly where I wanted the lenghts of pole to be, then I tapped into the wire for the invisible fence on either side, at it's previous locations, spliced the wires and with a light covering of dirt, I rolled the pole sections into the trench. This made covering the wire very easy, and if I need to access it in the future, it should be much easier to locate as well.

You can't see it in the picture, but on the ends of the wall, I've left enough room for me to create a slope and fit the riding mower through. Before the end of the summer, I would like to till up the entire lower area, and shovel the excess dirt into the upper area. Depending on how much I get, I may need to make a trip out to pick up some topsoil so that I can raise the level all the way to the tops of the pole sections. Leveling out the lawn should help keep it healthier and greener for more of the year.

With the wall finished and the invisible fence active again, I was able to till in the addition to my garden. The soil I tilled up was fairly rich from some composting I did on or near it last summer, but it's not quite as good as the soil in my original garden space this year.

I planted the pumpkins on the far left, where I can allow them to grow out and over some lawn without interfering with the other vegetables.

I put the peppers in the middle.

And the lettuce took up the last three rows on the right.

This is a side view of the entire new section I tilled in, where the invisible fence used to be buried.

As you can see my corn is getting very tall. The tallest stocks are as tall as I am and most of the stocks are starting to sprout their tassels, which means that ears of corn are not far away now.

In a previous blog I mentioned some nectarine trees I planned to plant, but I called them tangerines. It's much more likely that I'll get a nectarine tree to bear fruit than a tangerine, but here is a picture of one of the two nectarine trees I planted on Sunday.

One is planted in the upper portion of the backyard, near the fence, the other is in the front yard between my driveway and the picket fence. Both of the trees are taking to the new-found space very well.

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