Sunday, April 26, 2009

A busy week, followed by another...

Since I'll be too busy for housework this week, I figured I'd try to cram as much in over the last week as I could, weather permitting. Rains and events yesterday and today kind of limited my abilities, but I do feel well-positioned to get the vegetable raised beds completed in the next couple weeks -- maybe even next weekend. That is, assuming I can get all the topsoil, peat moss and manure that I need.

Since last weekend's bonanza of work, I haven't raised any more beds in the back. But, I did assemble the former fence pickets into walls and then went to buy a few more cedar boards for the other walls of the three remaining beds (didn't have enough fence pickets or retaining wall blocks to complete the job). I cut those and assembled them too. It also gave me an excuse to buy myself a circular saw, which, believe it or not, I did not have to this point. I got a Ryobi 12-amp, which cost me only about $40. So it was worth it.

Today I finished assembling the walls for the three remaining beds, so they'll be ready to rock and roll when I get time to take them into the garden.

Yesterday, before the rains came, I went to Home Depot to get gutters for the garden side of the garage. The water was running off and creating a trench in the raised bed. Also, I think that diverting that water out to the alley or wherever will help to minimize the flooding in the yard, somewhat.

I was only able to get one 10-foot length of gutter up, however, before we had a social obligation, so today, the back area was flooded because of the rains. Of course, the raised bed is not affected, which is good (and was the goal). So, once that water goes down, I'll be able to work back there again.

So that's where I stand right now...I'll hopefully have pictures once there's something good to take pictures of. We'll see how much more we get done next weekend!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

First raised bed finished...

first bed 2
Originally uploaded by southsideandy
...and I'm tired as hell. Did all the work myself. Heck, these last three days, I've done all the work myself.

That's OK, because I didn't really want help. Mostly because I was somewhat "winging it" on this...wasn't sure how it was going to go, wasn't sure how I was going to put it together. Was just kind of building as I went along, in a sense, and troubleshooting as I came upon an issue. Not many issues cropped up though.

The construction went as follows...
I got a leftover 50-lb. bag of sand, which I used as a base below the stones and bricks (especially given the unlevel ground situation). I laid the front stones first, then laid the bricks on the left.

I left a few inches between the bed and the garage, mostly because, when I decide to raise up the ground around the beds (once THEY'RE done), I'll want to obviously raise the little strip of ground back there, so water doesn't collect there either.

I then set the stones on the right side. As you can see, I staggered the stones only slightly. That's mostly because I didn't have the patience or tools to cut the blocks. This is sturdy as it is, even if it's not half-staggered or whatever they call it. I also used.

Finally, I got two of the fence pickets from the demolished hot tub wall structure and secured them together, side by side, with three pieces of wood (one longer in order to pound it into the ground. I took two stakes and pounded them into the ground at the ends, for added stability (just in case).

I then got the Sunday Trib and laid about three layers of newspaper directly on the grass (weeds). I wet it down really, really well. I got the big, 3-cubic-foot "bag" of Peat Moss I bought yesterday, and spread that around. Then, I spread three 40-lb. bags of humus/manure. I busted out my trusty Garden Weasel and mixed those two layers together a little bit.

Then I started laying bags of topsoil. 12 bags later, and here we are. I haven't planted anything in this bed yet, mostly because I was probably going to put the taller plants (tomatoes for sure) here. But now I'm not so sure. I have broccoli which does OK in less sun than some of the other veggies (I know this from experience, albeit limited, with growing broccoli in a part shade situation). So we'll see.

Anyway, I'm pretty darned tired...and I still have three more beds to build. Obviously, with rain on the way, this isn't happening tomorrow. But I'm happy to say that, aside from being one hell of a back-breaking three days, I got a decent amount of stuff done and took full advantage of the beautiful weather we had.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oh, the humanity...OK, that's a bit overly dramatic...

halfway 1
Originally uploaded by southsideandy
Well, hey there loyal readers...Wow, almost a whole month of no posting by me. That's a record that I'm sorry to admit to for this blog (I think).

Basically, I've been way the heck too busy to post of late. Much has happened, though, in the last week or two, so I thought I'd share some photos and an update. It's long overdue.

1. The basement family room has been mostly primed and is just about ready for paint. The review of the Behr New Drywall Primer is that I really liked it. I put one coat of the primer on the ceiling, and my buddy Luis (who has made appearances on this blog in the past) put on one coat of Behr White Ceiling Paint, and other than probably a touch-up here and there, that's ALL the ceiling needed. Primer on the walls was a little thinner, but it looks like it's covering enough to put paint up. So that will be the next step.

I've decided I'm going with two-tone walls. Top half will be a color called Harvest Brown (710D-4) and the bottom half will be a color called Smokey Blue (540F-5). I got the color combo off the Yellow-Toned Neutrals Style Card, actually. Even though in the style card, the Smokey Blue is only the napkins in the photo. I think this will look really nice, and I like the fact that I'm adding some color, not just beiges and yellows and browns and whatnot. I'm gonna split these with a white (or ivory, we'll see) chair rail, which will run perfectly below the windowsills and perfectly above the fireplace to form the top part of the simple mantel.

Of course, I bought the primer and paint on Tuesday, and Home Depot decided to have a $5 rebate per can offer that started today. Bunch of jerks. I wish I would have waited two stinking days...

I did get the floor I wanted, so I can't gripe too much, I guess...since it was 89 freaking cents a square foot and no interest till 2010. That gives us several months to pay it off without penalty of any kind. And that's HUGE.

2. Backyard plans are running full bore right now. I've started some tomato seeds and broccoli seeds, and have a whole slew of other vegetables waiting in the wings to be planted in the new garden that I'm working on constructing (currently in my brain, very soon in the yard). I'm going to have to get three cubic yards of dirt/compost/peat moss/manure/whatever to raise the bed up high enough in the back that floods to avoid future floods. So this garden will have the dual purpose of being a garden and taking care of part of the flooding problem. So I hope anyway.

The veggies I have in my possession (and should have room for, I hope -- I probably won't plant a forest of each of these, just a couple of each...I don't need 200 tomatoes) are: cherry tomatoes, big boy tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, garlic, green beans, carrots and beets. I'd like to get a pepper plant as well, and maybe some rosemary.

Today, I knocked down the "walls" of the little shelter that the hot tub is under...40 pickets of a fence. Fortunately, they were nailed to the rails, so I just hammered the hell out of them to break them free. Several of the pickets are in fantastic shape still and will be used in this garden, either as backup support around the beds or as walkway planks or something. We'll see for sure. It was definitely hard work, but I wanted to get it done because the garbage men come tomorrow, and there were some unsalvageables that I had to toss.

As you can see from the pictures on Flickr (click on the photo here), the yard looks significantly different with the walls of the shelter down. You can also see that I tried to pry the roof off, piece by piece. But, after climbing up the ladder and working for about 15 minutes plus to get that one panel off, I realized that it was going to work, and that, oh, these appear to be some sort of fiberglass panels, and my forearm itches and hurts like hell. I got a ton of fiberglass fibers rubbing on the underside of my forearm because I rested it briefly on the panel to try to pry it up. Live and learn, I guess.

So, tomorrow is supposed to be another unbelievably spectacularly beautiful day here in Chicago. I took the day off today, and will have most of tomorrow off, so I think that I will do some more work out there. Maybe I'll go buy the 70 or so bags of topsoil and stuff...but that would mean I'd have to rent one of those menards or home depot trucks...anyone done that and had good/bad experiences? (Anyone still reading at this stage?)

Anyway, we shall see how it goes tomorrow. I'm pretty tired from today's adventures...more soon, I promise!