Author Topic: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2  (Read 189401 times)

Offline cohutt

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Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« on: January 18, 2010, 05:54:01 PM »
Chapter 2 has begun

Last year after Jack made the little light go off in my brain, I decided to undertake a project that would allow me to produce a little food at home and begin the journey to a more self sufficient and satisfying life.  I started posting about my progress and ended up journalling pretty much the whole process in the thread "Cohutt builds a garden chapter 1" linked here: http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=6314.0

Unfortunately, I hadn't done much more for weeks really until the last few days.  My momentum died around thanksgiving when I tore a muscle in my back, followed by a lovely ass kicking by H1N1 after Christmas, the whole time during the unusually cold run of weather.   My back is better, I have finally stopped choking and coughing on the remnants of the H1N1 and my strength and endurance has finally returned.

Before I update on the progress outside, I wanted to share some success I've had inside.  Back before Christmas I pulled a few squares of lettuce and transplanted it into some cheapo window boxes from China Mart.  I eventually got the shelf cut, painted and installed in the large window at the back of the house, a southwestern exposure.

The lettuce has done well except for the occasional snacking on it our dog and cat both did before i got the shelf up.   We like the way this turned out and will probably add another eventually.

The wide angle:



A close up of one of the planters:




And tonight's indoor lettuce harvest:




We both can't believe we haven't been doing this until now.  It is easy and the greens are almost as good a quality as those grown outside this fall.   I haven't fertilized as this is grown in mature compost; all I do is water.


« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 05:48:55 AM by cohutt »

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2010, 06:21:09 PM »
Glad to see a chapter 2 to your garden project.

As for the Fritz garden project, now that we are in the house and will have the entire season, it should be more productive.  I'll be adding in several more raised beds to increase my space.  Add in to that that the wife has really shown an interest in it this year, means we should have some good progress.  Just this afternoon, she was drawing up what she envisions for the bottom half of the yard.  We have between a half and 3/4 acre that's not fenced and is just another place I have to mow.  That will become the orchard with a bunch of fruit trees and bushes.

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2010, 06:30:28 PM »
Going into Thanksgiving I had started clearing my back property line in preparation for the next leg of my fence.   This was a frickin bear; substantial stumps to cut down but first removal of old wire fencing intertwined with English Ivy, privet and saw briers.   I got the corner posts in and had started in on digging the post holes when I hurt my back.  

I now have the posts set, the stringers up (except for 2 short bottom ones) and have started installing the 8' fence boards. Today was a fantastic day for the middle of January- it was crystal clear and 60 degrees.  I even have some red tint on my skin after absorbing all that vitamin D.

The back is 65 ft and there are 10 posts including the corners; I had to space them irregularly in the upper section due to some stumps (yeah I was too cheap to have them ground up).  The drop in elevation from the upper to alley corner is almost 3 feet; i decided to do what I did in the first section of fence up by the original garden beds and keep the top level and have the btoom follow the contour of the ground.

3 courses of stringers were up by yesterday evening; you can see the first two sections of side fence looking up the alley and the back of my house and the lettuce window is in the background.



The whole back section from the alley; note that the vines and logs and other junk piled up around it will be hauled off when I get the fence completed.   The top rail is a little over 9' from the ground at the alley corner and a little over 6 at the other.



From the upper corner down the back line towards the alley, it should be obvious why I want a tall fence around my narrow downtown lot.



Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2010, 06:48:44 PM »
Fritz i know what you mean; I'm looking forward to a whole season this year; my first seeds didn't get into the ground until mid June last year.  That may not seem very late to some but that's 60+ days wasted after our average last frost date here.   

I'm humping it to finish this so i can clean up and install at least 200+ sq ft of beds before the middle of March.  I had small plans last year and got way more done than I thought I would, but this year I have big plans for sure. 

BTW ever since you posted the link to the "you bet your garden" podcast last summer I've listened to every one.  He is corny but knowledgeable and I'm sure it has helped me.

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2010, 06:58:50 PM »
I got the bottom stringers installed and was shot but I wanted to get a couple of sections of boards up.  The first two sections are enough to block the visual into most of my yard from cars driving up the alley, so I started on that corner.
I spaced them the same as the rest of the fence, 5/8" apart to allow for some air flow and to let a little light through.

Damn that's a tall fence!  Check out the sky in the background; I probably won't see another day like this until March.




Mrs C was worried about the corner and how it would look vs the 6' fence along the alley towards the back of the yard.  A big difference for sure but it doesn't bother me- besides, I won't be looking at it from the alley very much....



Offline digitalartranch

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2010, 07:17:54 PM »
Cohutt... seriously inspiring!!!

I purchased my first home this late summer/fall and only got a half - ass garden in before things got wintery here in Taylor (NE of Austin TX).  Over the Christmas and New Year days off I showed your thread amongst other thing to friends and family to get some plans down for a serious raised bed garden experience.  I had some days off, and some help from my Dad and made it happen.

I want to say thanks for inspiring me, I used your post as an example of what I wanted to build.  Look for a thread from me soon re: AK builds a garden, I would love to post some pics and share notes on what we learned even though we are in different climates.

cheers,
ak

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2010, 07:29:26 PM »
Last post for this series-

From the inside it looks like it will do what it supposed to and block out the ugly assed garage apartment behind my yard.   

Looking down the back part of the alley fence:



From the center of the boxwood garden:



The big bush to the left is an ancient Camellia that is in bloom right now.  Several of the open flowers got some freeze damage but there are still a lot of buds opening.  I was encouraged to see that all day long there were honey bees working the bush - it got me wondering where their hive is.  How far do bees travel for pollen? 



I have started spreading the wood mulch leftover from my tree masacre last fall but still have piles of it where my first beds are going in soon.  I figure I have enough to go 4-5 inches deep over the entire back area; hopefully this will do the job in choking out the odd crap that has been growing back there for years.

I cut a path through this big pile to make it easier to move around back there then used it as a base for my saw station. 




Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2010, 07:40:27 PM »
AK,

I'm humbled that my project has helped you get your vision on paper and now on the ground.   That's nice of you to share.
a
It is good of you to get moving on it after only a few months in the house.  Had i started when I bought this house (waaay back when I was 27) not only would I have enjoyed annual gardening for 23 more years, I could have had a mature permaculture system in place by now.

+1 for taking the plunge and you are on the hook for posting the season's progress & "pay it forward" as they say.

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2010, 09:19:34 PM »
Yeah!  :D
I couldn't wait for Ch2.

You really are an inspiration.  I'm 27 and just bought my house a couple of months ago as well.  I'm also only a few miles away from AK and I might even be getting in touch with him to see what he's growing this season.  I'll be starting out with probably 3 4x24' raised beds and should be canning, dehydrating, and freezing the surplus in no time!

I'm really digging the pics of your updates.  Keep em coming.  You're a good example to the rest of us!

Offline digitalartranch

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2010, 09:38:19 PM »
CENTEX... would be rad to share... I set up 3 X 12 beds for now and they are NEW just finished after new years.  All I have planted right now is some awesome cabbage, some frail broccoli and some onions --all transplants from the old set up.  I build a little greenhouse contraption for starting some seeds early, like next weekend.  More cold weather stuff but I might risk some warmer stuff in there too.

Cohutt... your garden is awesome love all the work you did...

all... since I am ON THE HOOK as it seems, look for thread AK builds a garden 2010

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2010, 04:36:53 AM »
Interesting:    2 miles.   

Bees will travel up to two miles for nectar/pollen, and will only fly when it is over 55 degrees f.   So, there is not telling where yesterday's Camellia bees' hive is located.  hmm.


centex and AK, 

What did you do/ will you do for soil prep?    I used the SFG Me's mix formula in my first beds but am not sure how I will fill up 2x as much in this expansion.   All I have done so far is make arrangements to pick up more dairy cow manure as well as composted yard waste from my city public works dept, as right now I have no place to put it.

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2010, 05:07:59 AM »

centex and AK, 

What did you do/ will you do for soil prep?    I used the SFG Me's mix formula in my first beds but am not sure how I will fill up 2x as much in this expansion.   All I have done so far is make arrangements to pick up more dairy cow manure as well as composted yard waste from my city public works dept, as right now I have no place to put it.

I'm a little hesitant to use Mel's mix to the the T since everyone I hear from in the organic gardening world says that peat moss is not good for bed preparation. 

This is what mine will mostly consist of... and ratios are yet to be determined:
Organic matter in the form of COMPOST (as many different kinds as I can find, including my own)
Lava Sand (Small amounts)
Green Sand (small amounts)
Will probably try to find vermiculite but expanded shale and decomposed granite are 2 very viable alternatives
"Rock Dust"-- won't go into it now but it's a fine crushed rock that returns minerals and trace elements back to the soil
Dry Molases- organic gardening's best and most gentle fertilizer... Also stimulates microorganisms
Blood Meal

I'll regularly be adding seaweed and fish emulsions as well

And probably some other stuff I can't think of right now off the top of my head.  Most important is that it's based on a SOIL FREE MIX of mostly organic matter, which means COMPOST!!!   ;)

Offline digitalartranch

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2010, 06:07:45 PM »
I REALLY should have written down exactly what went in there...

here it is "close enough for rock and roll" style.

put topsoil and leaves in to even things out and get a layer in there.  Just straight up TX topsoil.

THEN EACH BED GOT:

4lbs of peat
40lbs of compost
20 or 30 lbs of cow manure
40 lbs of organic "garden soil".

I mixed everything up, put some water in it, put some more water in it, and then let it sit.

I forget the brands here but I tried to go TX native and got everything at Lowes.


Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2010, 07:45:53 PM »
Not a lot to report from this weekend...

I wasn't as lucky this weekend with the weather.  Saturday was really windy and fairly cool but I got all the 8' boards I had up using the finish nailer. (I use it as a temporary way to attach the boards with proper spacing etc only because I don't have 3 arms).  I also go the back gate built and tacked in waiting for hinges to be purchased.

This is the area where my new beds will go; this is looking down the side fence towards the new back fence.


Today I was going to try and get the permanent nails in (using my good old fashioned hammers) and spread the rest of the wood mulch out.  

It was 50 degrees but unfortunately it rained a total of 2.64 inches today.   The only problem is I have decided I AM going to have this ready by spring, so I worked in the monsoon for several hours today.  I had a hunting rainsuit on and it did pretty well but eventually 2+ inches of rain just gets you wet.  

It was too wet to take pictures but I did get the bulk of the nailing done.  I had to take time out to sink two 4x4s once i remembered that the two bags of concrete I bought Saturday were still in the bed of my truck. I covered them with a small piece of plastic but they were sufficiently wet to set up regardless.  The posts will do two things
1- provide the anchor for the middle of the run fence cross braces
2- provide the front corner posts for a trellis I plan on having up by summer.

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2010, 07:44:31 PM »
Finished tacking up the fence boards tonight.   

I missed the correct number of board by a small amount (36 DOH!) and went by to pick up some more this morning from a friend's builders supply store.   While I was in the yard I noticed they were out pulling weathered boards off of all types of treated lumber and using a forklift to stack a couple pallets with them  These were the season's culls- the ones that has a little damage here or there or cosmetically were not 100%.

They put the pallets up front on the highway with a "make offer" sign on them.   I talked them into letting me select some stuff from what they had pulled off and I have a load of stuff coming tommorrow or Friday that I picked up for $25, which is maybe 10 cents on the dollar.  mainly 2x6, 2x8 and 2x12 pressure treated in lengths from 10 to 16 feet.  There were 6 16 ft 2x12s alone that were in damn good shape, just weathered a bit- these boards cost a fortune at homeboy depot.

Offline digitalartranch

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2010, 08:05:36 PM »
DANG!  what a FIND!

Offline johngalt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2010, 08:08:09 PM »
Nice!

Offline Roswell

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2010, 06:59:35 AM »
Looking good Cohutt! You really are an inspiration to us all.  I am going to be starting my thread soon too. I plan on building some beds today. I kind of did something similar to what you did. My father-in-law just built a new porch. So, he had all this old pressure treated lumber sitting around. So, I went over there last week pulled nails for about an hour. Now, I have enough free lumber to build 40 feet of SFG beds.  I can't imagine how awesome your 200 SFG will be. Don't hurt your back again (you're making the rest of us look bad)

I look forward to Chapter 2.  :)

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2010, 08:35:39 PM »
I've been known to either pull the nails out or cut them off with a grinder or sawzall.   Free beats cheap every day.

Offline Roswell

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2010, 06:25:09 AM »
Yeah I got really lucky. Right place and right time.  :)

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2010, 05:53:11 PM »
I got the wood delivered today, then had to carry and /or drag it about 150 feet to the back of my lot, where i will store/use it.

First off they only charged me $20 for the pallet, not $25 as I remembered.

The total: 451 board feet or treated wood @ $.04/ft.
2x6 - 38'
1x8 - 128'
2x12 -  164'

:)

Not bad except 16' treated 2x12s that have been outside in a lumberyard during a wet winter weigh a frickin metric ton.  I swear I think they are all well over 100 lbs.   (I ended up McGuyvering a  strap and shoulder harness that allowed me to skid them the distance without too much trouble. )

There was a misty drizzle all day long and it never got above 38; I stayed out in it all afternoon hauling the wood, banging in the permanent nails to the fence boards, then taking down the temporary welded wire fence that I put up several months ago,
Tommorrow I plan on finishing the bracing and nailing then perhaps start building beds.

Woot!  Progress!



Offline teton traveler

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2010, 06:05:19 PM »
I am excited to get going again on this years garden. I have started some plants in a window planter, but we have four more months of winter to go.

Offline KYdoomer

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2010, 06:15:25 PM »
That's an outstanding deal Cohutt.  I'm very envious.

J

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2010, 08:02:34 PM »
4 more months of winter.  brrr.

i will be able to sow some spinach and lettuce outdoors here in another 4 weeks or so and I can hardly wait

Offline teton traveler

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2010, 09:36:15 PM »
4 more months of winter.  brrr.

i will be able to sow some spinach and lettuce outdoors here in another 4 weeks or so and I can hardly wait

As much as I like Idaho, I due envy the longer growing season others have elsewhere. I think it was two years ago that it snowed 9 out of the 12 months of the year. January to June, then October through December. Needless to say, I am going to do more with window plantings like Jack shows in the MSB videos. That way I am not limited to fresh produce during the brief summer months.

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2010, 05:35:41 AM »
Incredibly pretty area with good no bull-chit people though.  I assume you're you on the "back" side of the Tetons - Driggs, Tetonia, Ashton area?  I've spent some time there, a friend has a house at the confluence of Henry's fork and the Warm River.

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2010, 01:07:23 PM »
Incredibly pretty area with good no bull-chit people though.  I assume you're you on the "back" side of the Tetons - Driggs, Tetonia, Ashton area?  I've spent some time there, a friend has a house at the confluence of Henry's fork and the Warm River.

That's the area. We are roughly 7 miles directly east of where the main fork of the Snake River and Henry's Fork meet and I went duck hunting on the Henry's Fork last year.  Since we are in zone 4, I am trying to organize things to take full advantage of the heat and sun. Last year I planted flowers and useless "pretty things" on the south side of our trailer.  I want to use areas like that to grow things that actually produce something and need the full sun and warmth.

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2010, 05:06:50 PM »
 had some time to start laying some boards around to get perspective on how I will max the beds out. I have a couple of designs on paper but until I "see" kind of how they look in the space I don't want to start building them

Anyway, I took some shots at lunch today of the finished fence, the beginning of the arbor and the mock beds.   I do plan on cutting the giganimus old camelia bush back this spring.










Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #28 on: February 01, 2010, 05:07:53 PM »
Looking back up towards my original beds you can see the blueberry bushes and the tool shed I braced the fence with. The wire fencing crap next to it will be removed and doors will be added. 

I took this from standing on the same bench I took the last photo above from, just looking the other way.



Nuther one from in front of the shed. 

I have been instructed to build a barrier to hide the 5th blue water barrel from vew btw.   Yes ma'am.

The plastic in the garden is the hack job cold frame roll-a-greenhouse system that is keeping my lettuce thriving this winter.

Damn, I didn't hold the camera very level did I?


Offline digitalartranch

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 2
« Reply #29 on: February 01, 2010, 05:13:12 PM »
This is going to be intense when its all green and full of food etc...  you have really got some expansion on your hands dont you!  Can not wait to see it develop!  as always awesome work!

(will run into same instruction in regards to rain barrel system...will be interested in seeing your solution.)