Author Topic: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1  (Read 106599 times)

Offline cohutt

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Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« on: June 16, 2009, 07:52:06 PM »
INTRO:

In the 10 months after I started this thread my backyard has undergone a transformation from an overgrown mature landscape into an increasingly productive garden plot.   This thread (as well as the “chapter 2” thread, which picked up in January 2010 where this one left off  http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=12690.0 ) documents the progress I have made teaching myself the most basic and fundamental skill of producing my own food.   

My home is in a downtown historic district in northern Georgia and at the widest point my lot is only 70 feet wide.   Not large by “homestead” standards, but 3 times the size of what the Dervaes family lot that produces over 3 tons of food annually. 

Jack asked me to write this intro so that this might be linked via “Save our Skills”.   Besides a square foot garden construction primer, these threads include a pretty nice rain catch system design and installation, some basic fence and shed building, installation of an asparagus bed, as well as the beginnings of my experiments with high density bamboo trellis.  Mainly they include a lot of pictures, around 350 at last count.   

Hopefully these give confidence.    I possess no formal training in carpentry or agriculture or really anything hands on; I have a “whitest of white”-collar career. 

Prepare to learn by reading but learn by doing.
Make some mistakes.  Kill some plants.  Grow some food.   Enjoy the freedom that follows.

cohutt


________________________________________________________________________________

June 2009:
I previously posted a thread about a mega compost effort I undertook in anticipation of a new SFG to be constructed in my backyard.  The compost cooked off faster than I thought it would so I got busy turning 400 sq ft of zoysia sod into 5 raised beds.  (I took some pics along the way with a decent camera as well as my crackberry camera, so the quality isn't consistent. )

First- my backyard as it was, as viewed from my back porch/sunroom, with the laid out square (just under 20'x20').

Lawn:



Lizzie's house overlooking the lawn:



(Lizzie was the last person to live in the house- it was built as servant's quarters to the main house back in 1870)


Next I started pulling the sod manually and decided after a row that a sodcutter would in fact be the only way I could pull the sod up before the growing season was over.

Sod up and moved to other spots in the yard:





Next- leveling and building the beds
« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 05:50:43 AM by cohutt »

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2009, 08:05:51 PM »
BTW, I pulled the sod so i wouldn't have to mow or maintain in between the beds.  I also could use it in some bare areas, so it seemed like the thing to do.

Next, I constructed the beds out of the 2x6's that had been drying out for a few weeks on the porch of Lizzies.  Before i put them together, I wanted to paint the boards - Mrs Cohutt insisted on something that looked halfway decent.  I ended up putting 2 coats of stain on it, the darkest stain that Homey Depot had - "slate" i think.  Why dark?  White looks good clean but i doubted that it ever would be clean, so I opted for the darker color.

1st coat of stain before i cleaned up and leveled the dirt where the sod was:



I built 4 8'x4' beds and dropped them roughly where they would go.  I also cut the weedblock cloth around the edges I will eventually tack down



From the back window:


Hare of Caerbannog

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2009, 08:10:01 PM »
Nice start.
Well done.

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2009, 08:13:11 PM »
Next - placing the beds in their final spot and leveling, followed by lining the whole thing with a couple layers of cardboard boxes.  Once I had this done I put a couple inches of cypress mulch over the cardboard in between the beds.

Some shots of it all prepped and ready for dirt, but without the center 4x4 bed:





I finished the center bed last week and installed it as well:






Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2009, 08:26:33 PM »
Last saturday I picked up the peat and vermiculite to mix with my compost then spent the better part of the day mixing up a half bed at a time of "Mel's mix" using a sheet of plastic as a tarp to roll it up and together. It was well mixed when i put it in- this method works very well.

Sunday I put the two top posts in and built a mini retaining wall for the 5" or so I removed from the grade along the top edge while leveling.  Finally I planted a few things some corn and beans mainly- had to get something in the ground now even though my original goal was to have it ready for a big fall crop.

We are keeping my brother in law's dog currently (thankfully we are done tommorrow) and I was afraid he might dig some in the morning when no one was home and he was in the back yard.  I covered as much as i could but sure enough the little bastige got all in it and I had to replant some last night.  This was after making a cheap temporary fence out of deer netting to discourage him and the various cats from getting into it anymore.
It seemed to work so tonight i cleaned up some a snapped a picture or two of the progress. There is some plastic mesh over a couple of the beds still and you can see the surveyors tape i tied into the deer netting as well.

All in all I am pleased so far but still have a lot to do- I plan on putting a low fence around it, something to deter dogs and cats down the raod and to keep it somewhat visually segregated from the lawn as well.




Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2009, 08:34:09 PM »
I have 6 food grade 55 gallon drums I will over-engineer into a rain catch system sfter i finish the fence.  I'll post the progress and setbacks with that as what I have in mind is probably a little ambitous (like most of my projects).

Also, it is hot here in N GA right now as the highs will remain in the upper 90s for a few days along with very high humidity.  This makes for a lot of sweat as you might imagine.

What happens when you mix peat, vermiculite and compost all day long in this heat?  Hint, it becomes obvious when you take off your boots afterwards:





Offline Roswell

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2009, 10:58:49 PM »
nice job Cohutt

dhallftworth

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2009, 11:33:14 PM »
Great job... that will help lots of new people build their own gardens!!! Looks great! I really like the progression of the pics..  ;D

Offline Sister Wolf

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2009, 11:41:43 PM »
Beautiful job with the explanation & absolutely gorgeous pictures.  Your beds are so awesome!  I can't wait to see them full of food.  ;D  !!!  +1 cohutt.  Great job, here.

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2009, 12:28:42 AM »
WOW!  Very nice.

Visually pleasing as well.

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2009, 04:08:35 AM »
Thanks- As i said Mrs Cohutt was lukewarm to the idea until i came up with something she liked on paper.  As it progressed she became very excited about the idea of more fresh veggies. 

I say more because very hurriedly in late March I put in two small triangular beds on the side of the house and planted some lettuce and spinach, followed by some tomatoes. This was before heard of true SFG on one of the podcasts and bought the book; the beds are cut to fit two odd spots and were filled with dirt from the other side of my house.  This dirt is really just 40 years of pecan leaves, tassels and nuts composted right where the fell.  It is rich and seems to work pretty well even though it isn't "Mel's mix".

The lettuce is still around on its last leg and the tomatoes are coming along nicely. The lettuce is pretty bitter now right when it is picked.  She read that you it can still work if picked when it is cooler in the morning and then left refrigerated for 48 hrs or so.  This works pretty well and it is plenty edible, so the last or the plants are still in even though they look like hell and are well past their prime.






Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2009, 04:20:31 AM »
The little green cage in the 2nd picture of the previous post is catnip.

I had to put my two old dogs down last Christmas and for now and without dog.  When the time is right we'll save one or two more and as mentioned I will have the plot fenced in fairly soon.  

I still have company when I am out there- the "monster baby".  Mrs C found him in box on our main street when his eyes weren't even completely opened and she saved him.  He was bottle raised by humans and grew up with dogs so he really doesn't know he is a cat; he hangs out in the back with me when I'm digging the way the dogs used to do.  He could fit into a shoe when we got him but he grew a little.  And A little more.  And some more.    And even more.

If i keep him stoned on catnip he stays out of the beds while I'm working in there. Why would i go to that trouble?

I present "the monster baby", my gardening buddy and chief squirrel patrolman:

« Last Edit: June 17, 2009, 04:22:45 AM by cohutt »

Offline Roswell

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2009, 07:52:22 AM »
Dude, Cohutt! My cat looks almost exactly like that!  it is uncanny. very cute

dhallftworth

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2009, 08:12:26 AM »
That cat looks stoned!!!! LOL That's some good catnip...  ;D

Offline Roswell

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2009, 07:59:37 AM »
Look at my cat Hunter Cohutt. I think we might have brothers


Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2009, 06:21:42 PM »
Yeah, look a lot alike although the monster baby craps bigger than your cat lol...


OK, back to garden progress.

Dug the two back corner post holes and found where they laid the old galvanized pipe to get water to the back of the yard in the 50s. DOH! it is disconnected now but i'll have to use concrete in this hole since it is going to be shallow..... 

Last night there were a couple of sprouts of corn and beans.  This evening stuff is up all over the place. 

(The string is temporary until i stain and cut some wooden strips and get them installed.

 I'm liking this so far.



Corn!!  (Devotion)



Beans!!  (baby lima and Roma)




Better shot of the whole deal:




Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2009, 12:00:49 PM »
Another update.....

I sunk the two back corner posts and installed the treated 2x4 retaining edging on two more sides.    It has been incredibly hot and humid here (100 with another +5 to +8 on the heat index from the humidity).  I worked almost all Saturday with my miter saw set up in the shade but i couldn't escape the oppressive heat when measuring, digging & installing the edges, so I gave out before I finished the 4th side.

I moved my setup to the patio and started cutting/assembling the platform for the 4 x 55gal raincatch system I intend to get built and installed.  I'll post the whole series on it when I am complete in a few weeks.

The good news is the warm soil gave me fast germination and everything is taking off....







Can anyone ID these?


Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2009, 12:07:15 PM »
And the beginnings of the over-engineered 4 barrel rain catch system building it here but the final install will be against the house at my biggest "watershed" gutter on the house :






calamityjane

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2009, 12:59:21 PM »
Yeah, look a lot alike although the monster baby craps bigger than your cat lol...


OK, back to garden progress.



Fantastic pics, love the layout.  Wish I could help on plant ID there.  Well done. 

cj

Offline garyb31

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2009, 01:32:31 PM »
Are they peanuts?

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2009, 03:19:07 PM »
Are they peanuts?

We have a winner- yes, they are in fact goober peas.....

Planted them just for the hell of it- just to see how they do...

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2009, 07:47:53 AM »
Ok, a week later things are progressing well.






I planted two grids of corn and it is growing very quickly.  I put up a stabilizing net over the silver queen; this is to keep it from blowing over when it is full height in a few weeks.  Supposedly it grows straight through the grid and is supported sufficiently.   We'll see.


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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2009, 11:45:39 AM »
Gosh, that is looking SO NICE!!!!  :)  +1, cohutt!  I bet you're dang excited about how well things are turning out!

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2009, 11:47:40 AM »
Wait, what in the heck is that board over part of the beds?

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2009, 02:06:15 PM »
Wait, what in the heck is that board over part of the beds?

LOL, i guess it does look like a board.

That was a quickie "mulch" solution i threw down around the one squash plant I have planted.   It has been bone dry and 100 degrees here for the last week and looks the same for while yet.

Mel says for bush variety (non vine) squash, allocate one per 9 sq ft.   I looked at all the empty uncovered soil in the squares around the plant and figured it would be best to mulch around it.
So i got one of the heay brown paper bags that the vermiculit came in and cut a 3x3 square and punched a hole in the middle. I sprinkled some peat on it to try and make it blend in until I came up with a better method. 

And yes I am pleased with the progress so far.

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #25 on: June 28, 2009, 08:41:19 PM »
Wow!  Very impressive.  Thanks for the updates; keep them comin'!

~Risko

Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #26 on: July 07, 2009, 07:50:03 PM »
10 more days and things keep growing.

The peanuts are beginning to bloom.

The Roma Bush beans kept some of their vining genes

Short 2 fence posts , need to hurry or the other patch of corn will be too tall to run through the stabilizing netting.

Building a shade frame to try heat of the summer lettuce per Mel's instructions. 50% shade cloth + extra water + mulch and lettuce might not go bitter....  we will see.  Pictures added when contraption is done.








Offline cohutt

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #27 on: July 07, 2009, 07:54:30 PM »
Also the tomato bed on the side of the house is coming along. Built a trellis netting frame that doubles as a bird netting prop.  Damn mockingbird nesting nearby is a tomato bandit.

[
« Last Edit: July 07, 2009, 07:58:34 PM by cohutt »

Offline Roswell

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #28 on: July 07, 2009, 11:18:48 PM »
mmm... looks like one of your tomatoes are ready.  :)   

awesome work my man.  It is coming along great.

Offline Sister Wolf

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Re: Cohutt builds a garden, Chapter 1
« Reply #29 on: July 08, 2009, 06:24:08 PM »
Gorgeous!!!  I'm so jealous of your corn!  :)