After having spent our
first year completing screw-ups that our bankrupt builder left us with,
I finally had the opportunity to turn my attention to fun projects. The
first project was the garden. I had many reasons for wanting to start a
garden but the biggest reason was simply to have fresh vegetables
available and not having to worry about insecticides and preservatives.
The "Crisis" part of the garden was more in response to the crappy
economy and wanting to be more self-sufficient, but I could also say
that working in the yard and garden is therapeutic and relaxing, which
is the ideal way to deal with stress.
The first challenge was coming up with a design. I didn't want to
create anything conventional or sloppy so I decided to create a garden
maze like something you would see in a botanical garden. This drawing
was my first draft from which the plan took form. The idea is perhaps a
bit more elaborate than the garden will turn out to be but it looked
cool on paper. The design involves concentric circles with "wings" to
the north and east.
The location was the southwest corner of
the yard. At the time, the weeds had taken over so I had to implement a
scorched earth policy to clear a space.
The next picture shows the completed
footing for the second segment of the inner circle, the third segment
footing dug, and the completed installation on the irrigation for each
January 26th, 2009
first part of the plan to implement was measuring and marking where the
pieces would end up going. Clearing the weeds was a continual challenge
because they grew so fast and obscured the marking paint.
January 29th, 2009
The next step was to begin digging the
footing for the inner circle and the trenches for the automated
irrigation. Although I had had some experience with landscape
irrigation before, I had not done hardly anything with concrete and
masonry. Thanks to my brother-in-law Matt for advice on how to make a
decent footing that will support what I wanted to build.
February 5th, 2009
Next, I poured the
concrete for the first footing, dug the footing for the second inner
circle segment, and installed the PCV irrigation pipe. At first, I was
buying bags of Quick-crete concrete mix until I found that it took
about 15 80-pound bags to complete the footing. After that, I made my
own concrete. I bought bags of Portland cement, a portable concrete
mixer, and had a big pile of concrete
aggregate delivered, which was MUCH cheaper and required a
lot less effort.
February 18th, 2009
March 12th, 2009
One of the challenges that I found while
building these footings was that this corner of the yard was on a mild
slope. As a result, I had to measure for the height of all the forms in
relation to a common point so that the planter heights would all be
consistent, despite the slope.
|March 29th, 2009
Finally, I was able to start the masonry.
Thanks to lots of YouTube videos on bricklaying (and a few initial
mistakes), I figured it out.
I found a place in Phoenix that made bricks locally and in lots of
southwest colors so I had some pallets of "Sedona" bricks delivered.
Next steps: landscape fabric to control
the weeds and crushed stone and stepping stones on top of that.
April 6th, 2009
With the first segment of
the inner circle complete, I built a ramp with blocks left over from
the perimeter wall so that I could dump garden sod into the planter
with a wheel barrel. Because I got this started so late in the
year (at April, it already gets over 100 degrees during the day), I
bought some small plants from the hardware store just so I could have
something growing. This segment has tomatoes, jalapeños, basil,
April 20th, 2009
Finally, I got the last
segment of the inner circle completed. Red and yellow bell peppers,
pumpkins, watermelons, lettuce, arugula, and lots of onions. Even with
all that, there is still space left over to plant stuff. When I get
around to building the outer circle, I'm going to have more veggies
than I know what to do with.
April 30th, 2009