Sunday, June 27, 2010

Still Working on the Garden

As you can see, I got that spa back to my house. I was also given 7 more tires for the wall.
Unfortunately, I didn't get the pump for the spa, but did get the heater unit. I don't know what I'm going to do with the heater, but the spa is getting turned into a raised garden area.
It's big enough for a fruit tree, so I may do that. It has eye bolts on the base for moving the spa and these may prove useful if I ever have to net or put plastic over the tree. That will still give me room for flowers or food crops around the base of the tree.
Now I just need to set it down and make sure the drain hole is unplugged so that excess water doesn't accumulate.
I also got some dirt into the bottom row of tires. They are mostly truck tires--16's and 30's.
After I put the dirt in I ran a hose out and started compacting the dirt and filling the voids in the tires.
The soil out here has a lot of powdery clay. It's going to make quite a formidable wall.
 On the left, I have the hose trickling water into the tires. I'm using rebar and and a hoe to move the slurry of mud into the voids. I don't know if you can tell but the voids use about half the dirt, so I'm going to be bringing more in on a continuous basis.

It's been hot today, so I was out with the large straw hat, and gloves because the rebar gets hot in the sun.
 I'm hoping the amount of clay in the soil will make for a good semi-finished surface at the form boards.

As you can see, I still have more tires. That is probably not enough to complete the wall, but it will be enough to get the wall of tires done a few feet out from the block wall in the background.
I did notice a low flow in the garden hose out this far. This will be OK for drip irrigation, but I may need to put a booster on my well.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gardening Part Deux

On this first day of summer, I spent the majority of the day doing more gardening prep work. I will be using a lot of materials that I have on hand. Most were picked up second hand--much of it free or at little cost. For example, I arranged to remove a spa out of someone's backyard. It has no heater, so few people want it. I want to use the spa as a raised garden bed, and can use the pump for the fish pond I want to grow.

In the picture above you can see the remnants of a couple of Chinese Elm trees that I removed. I'll have to keep an eye out for shoots popping up around the yard again. It's about 95' from the block wall to the back of that garage. I plan to make the garden about 60' off the back wall, which will allow me access to the septic system and should give me enough room to eventually put a gray water tank in.
Here you can see a smaller amount of tires. I took this picture toward the end of the day. In the lower left corner is the manual tire changing machine. I've had that for years and it's bolted down to the slab. The machine on the right, is a pneumatic tire changer that I picked up at the swap meet, and it's good for breaking the tires loose from the rim, but doesn't remove the tire very well. It's also not bolted down to the slab, yet. We ran an air hose from the garage to the wall, then behind the other stuff. You can see the air hose dropping off the back of the 1965 Ford Flatbed. In the lower right hand corner is a solar water heating panel.
My buddy, Steve, and I set up to removing tires. I would work the pneumatic changer, because I've worked in garages before, and I didn't want to take chances with him getting hurt/losing a finger. He provided the brute force for pulling the tires off. On a few of the larger tires we used my Bobcat to loosen the tire from the rim. Then we took the tires over by the wall and unit and sorted them by size.
Here is most of the tires we got done today. Not very many, but we moved quite a bit of stuff around, as well. So I don't feel to bad. If you look to the right of the line of tires you can see the air hose. I climbed from the cinder block to the top of the block wall and walked the hose back behind everything so that I can still maneuver the Bobcat and other vehicles back here.
The plan is to stack tires until they are about the same height as the block wall, filling each layer with soil to keep them in place. Then I can plant stuff in the terraced tires. I'm thinking herbs or some sort of ground cover or flower that keeps bugs away. A wall of color would be nice there. I'm also contemplating painting them white to keep the temperature of the soil down. I've read that a problem with raised beds, especially with all that black to absorb heat.
Just to the left of the lined up tires you can barely make out some grating.
Here is the grating. I have a bad problem with gophers on this property so I'm laying down the grating to help protect the crops. They aren't tight to the wall, because there's a cement footing there. I've slid the one under the tire. I picked up the grating from a walk-in refrigerator I was asked to remove. I plan on using the glass doors from the walk-in as part of my green house.
Happy Summer!

Monday, June 7, 2010

More Gardening Stuff

This is the view from near the detached garage. There, behind the cars, is a block wall. I want to put a raised bed against the wall to grow tomatoes and (something). The boarded up building to the right (west) is a 6 unit apartment complex that I've run out of money to finish at the  moment.

Obviously I'll have to move the cars. I'm thinking about taking the tires off the rims and building a wall 20' out from the apartments. I am thinking about 5' tall and terraces toward the east in order to plant an herb garden on the east and maybe something decorative on top. I think I'll either paint the side that faces the apartments or cover them with mesh and stucco that side. I happen to have a lot of paint given to my partner by his cousin who was a superintendent for a housing tract.

I've also gotten in touch with a local horse rescue shelter. So I'm able to get horse manure. It has a real high pH (8.5) but can be composted. It could also be mixed with the caliche on my property and made into adobe. How cool would that be?

For those of you who are vehicle buffs, from left to right: 65 Ford 1T flatbed, 70 GMC 3/4T with a working factory tachometer and 402 cid engine (needs rebuild), 1978 Propane power Toyota, 1967 Daimler Saloon.
This is the back of my garage and workshop. The evaporative cooler is up and working, which is good, because it's been over 100 for the last 3 days. I've replace a lot of toilets over the years. The wife insists that I don't use them as pottery. I may rebuild them with the cost of ceramics going up. It mostly involves removing calcium deposits. I also knocked down the weeds with a string trimmer today.
I plan to stucco the garage at some point, but materials alone are close to $2000.
You can't see it, but there is a water line by the evaporative cooler that I'll tap off of for my water line.
Here is a closer view of my southern bounds for the garden. I'm standing near a 10' wide chain link gate. It's six feet high.
In the foreground are a couple of solar water heaters and a heat exchanging tank. I left a helper unsupervised and he rolled it to the recycling trailer. I don't know if it's any good anymore.
Yes, more tires.
Under the tires and solar water heaters is a cement slab. I may use this area for a chicken coop or ????

In the foto to the left, I'm standing behind the orange Toyota truck. This is the back wall. As I said earlier, I later knocked down some of the weeds.
This picture reminds me that I need to install a back panel for the shell on the GMC and a carpet kit.

I turned to the left 90 degrees (now facing north). You can see the boarded up windows on the apartments and the garage, and a Chinese elm tree. The elm has been very stubborn, as has the acacia about 30' behind it that you can't see.
I'd like to start more acacias as they have horrific thorns every 3-5". I think they and the cactus will make great security.
You can also see the propane tank in the back of the Toyota.
If you look to the right of the door stoops you can see a depression that is the trench for the water and gas piping. At the back you can see the wooden fence. It was also recycled from a job where the contractor was happy to drop it off at my house rather than pay the dump fees. He was putting up a block wall.
Now I'm standing to the west of my garage. The utility trench is more clearly visible. You can also see the acacia.
The acacia was over 30' tall, but seemed half dead. After cutting it down, suckers started popping up all over. We removed several from the trench on the right. Some of them were covering a beehive in the block apartments. I couldn't find anyone to remove them so, sadly, I had them exterminated. I feel horrible about that, as my great grandfather was a beekeeper.

I'm hoping to lay out a few raised beds and 6 to 10 fruit trees in this space. I have to contend with gophers. I'm going to get 1/2" hardware cloth for the trees and have some used shelf racking from a walk-in refrigerator to put at the bottom of the raised beds. I've been told I should by a couple king snakes for hunting gophers, but I think that would interfere with chickens and rabbits in the future.

Feel free to comment, just don't tell me how bad the building looks. I know, trust me, I know.

Gardening and stuff.

I haven't posted in a while. I had the flooring to redo in the mobile home and have that listed up for sale. Right after I got the flooring in, someone threw a rock and broke a window, so I had some really nice infrared cameras installed along with a multiplexer. So now the mobile home has a professional security system, as well. The work was done by Sam Moose at New Age Systems.
In the mean time I've been developing my skills gardening. I'm looking at plant types, pH levels, composting, gopher guard for trees, and putting in some raised garden beds. I'm even thinking of doing a terrace with some of the used tires I've acquired. You might be surprised how many with rentals, or maybe not. With small growing areas, I thought I'd use them for a wall on one side, and small herb gardens in the exposed soil.
So I need to get an empty 5 gallon bucket for my local coffee shop so they can save me coffee grounds. Then I'll measure the pH of the grounds and see how I need to modify the soil.
I have to move some trucks I have parked against the old back wall. I want to use the wall to shelter tomato plants from the wind.
I need to learn to plant more densely. So I'm looking at planting shallow and deep rooting plants next to each other, but I have a lot of work to do prepping the beds.
I just wanted to write a little something for now. I'll try to keep things updated with some pictures in the near future.