>> Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Did you guess what Jason did with the pick-ax and the wood? If you guessed "build a garden" then you were right! Sorry, but there are no prizes. This blog just isn't big enough and I have no sponsors! (Sponsors and their samples will be much appreciated, however.) Moving on.
This is what our side yard looked like before the garden. The wood you see was some old wood that came off of some picnic tables. We try to save the planet once board at a time here at our casa.
The labor actually started over a week ago. Jason thought he would start by digging out the hole, build a frame, then fill it in with some good dirt. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a much more daunting task than it would seem.
It's hard to tell from this picture, but the pile of dirt you see is almost all rock. Lots and lots of rock. Not too much dirt here. Poor Jason got his workout when he took on this project. He put that pick-ax to work and even bent it a little.
We had a potentially scary thing happen while Jason was pick-axing out the pit. He almost broke a water main! It was placed about 8 inches off the side of the house. When we moved in, we couldn't figure out why there were double faucets outside in a few places. We just accepted it and used which ever one was easier to get to. In reality, one was connected to the water softener (the original pipes) and the other was connected to the city water. Apparently the previous owners didn't want to waste their water-softening salt on the yard, so they T-ed off the original water main from the street and put in new faucets. Jason almost broke the "new" water main...the one connected to the city water. We plan on capping it off and taking it out later on. The water was plenty soft without the extra salt so we had disconnected the softener a long time ago. But do you know what the worst part was? We didn't know where the shut-off valve was. It's on the street and we would have to have a wrench (which we do somewhere) and then be without water until Monday morning! Aaahhh!!!!
After we learned something new about our home, he dug a little more carefully. Here's the pit he dug out, complete with a giant pile of rock on either side. It's roughly 20 feet long and about 8 feet wide.
Every time I would go outside to check on Jason, Cassius would jump in the window to see where I went. He hates to be left out!
After digging out the dirt/rock, he planned to frame it in to contain the garden. I was sent to buy him some nails. Big mistake on his part. There are too many to choose from! Finally, I found the right ones and came home. He started sawing and nailing the old picnic table wood to make the frame. Sadly, the wood was just too old and too hard to nail. It constantly split and the nails didn't want to dig into the wood. He then decided to just start over and buy new wood. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise!
It turns out that old treated wood contains CCA (chromated copper arsenate) which is used as a preservative to keep out microbes, termites and other insects. CCA was outlawed for consumer use in December 2003 because of the levels of arsenic leaching off the wood were too high. You can read it directly from the EPA here. Our old picnic wood was definitely treated before 2003, so we chunked it. The new wood treatments are just that.....new. Rather than find out in 10 years that the new treatment is also toxic, we opted to use untreated lumber. Sure, we may have to replace it in a few years, but it's better than finding arsenic in your tomatoes!
Here's the untreated lumber frame that Jason built. That's his dad in the background helping to fill in the holes and level it off.
As they worked, two cats would jump into the next door neighbor's window. They would reach out to us, as if we could pet them! The one on the left is trying to lay down in what looks to be about 2 inches of space. The one on the left is harder to see since it's mostly black, but he just wanted to jump over to us and let us love on him!
After ensuring that the frame was level, Jason & his dad started to fill it in with some nice manure-filled dirt. That part took the least amount of time! So, without further ado, here's the finished product:
I am planning on buying some seeds and tomato plants this week. Jason is in Washington, DC until Thursday, so I won't have any help until Friday! I'll update as soon as we get it all planted! I can't wait to get some nice, home grown veggies!