Gardening

Here are some pictures of a window box I build last week.  It’s only one of several, but it gets the general idea across.

They were made from cedar fence boards.  They were 6 feet long and a fraction of the price of a 1x6 even though they're almost exactly the same size.

They were made from cedar fence boards. They were 6 feet long and a fraction of the price of a 1×6 even though they’re almost exactly the same size.

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All the pieces are marked out to cut here.

These concrete screws worked very well, both going directly into brick and into the mortar between the bricks.  All you had to do was drill a hole with the included masonry bit and put the screw in.

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Here’s the back attached to the wall:

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And here’s the finished box, before paint.  The box was assembled piece by piece and attached with staples/brads from an air nailer.

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The only thing left was to lightly sand the box, drill drainage holes in the bottom, and paint the outside (not required, but a nice touch since the wood color varied).

IMG_2226After six years, someone finally had the idea of installing a faucet near the garden instead of using close to 250 feet of hoses for watering.  The hoses tended to degrade and need replaced frequently, and they had to be moved every time the yard was mowed.  This new faucet should save a lot of time when mowing and save the cost of replacing the hoses so often.  The limited amount of hose needed now should last several years without a problem.

The way the faucet works is this: When the handle is lifted, a drain at the bottom is closed and the water supply turned on. When the handle is put down to shut off the water, a drain at the bottom of the hydrant opens, draining all the water from the hydrant and leaving nothing there to freeze.

Here’s a picture of the hydrant I installed:

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For me, the hardest part was digging the hole.  If we didn’t have a water supply nearby, this would be a much more difficult job.  I was able to tap into the main water line where it runs past the garden, so there was no trench required and no new pipes to install.

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The 3/4″ water line in the bottom of the hole – it was about 2 feet down.

The next parts I only have a few pictures of.  One person doesn’t really have enough arms to do this job, much less take pictures. After the main water supply was turned off, I cut about 1/2″ from the center of the water line to install a T.

(Here I’ll add – buy the push-type or gator-bite fittings.  They’re worth every penny – they work underwater and don’t require any time for glue to set.)

When the pipe is cut, water runs back into the hole.  As long as all of the faucets uphill from here stay closed, the amount of water is limited to between 2 and 3 gallons.  If someone were to open a faucet in the house, all of the water from all of the pipes would drain into my hole.

After the pipe was cut, I let water run into the hole until it stopped before scooping it out with a plastic cup.  Now the brass tee is finally installed.

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All it takes is pressing a pipe into each hole, and it seals.

There was one more fitting that allowed me to connect the plastic water line to the hydrant.  One side of that fitting was coated in teflon tape and screwed into the hydrant, the other side was another push-type fitting.

After the hydrant is physically attached to the water line via the tee, the bottom of the hole is filled in with dirt only after turning on the water supply and checking for leaks.

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If you look closely, you can see a drain in the brass fitting at the bottom of the hole. That’s how the pipe keeps from freezing.

The hole from here is filled with around 10″ of gravel to allow the pipe to drain (this is the part there are no pictures of).

At this point, with the hole almost completely filled with gravel, I put in a little more dirt and packed everything down as tight as I could.

The final step is to pour concrete in the hole to keep the hydrant from moving:

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The concrete is about 2″ thick – enough to hold the hydrant, but thin enough I can break it if I ever had a problem with the hydrant.  Lastly, I didn’t fill the hole completely with concrete.  I left room on top to put in 1-2 inches of dirt so grass can grow right up to the pipe.

This is a drawing of the hose reel I’m building from a steel pipe and two wheels:

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Here is how the pipe is welded to a steel plate (actually part of a bent lawn mower blade) and then welded to the wheel:

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Here is the finished hose reel, with the base full of concrete:

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These past few weeks we have done  some  early gardening  work. Now is the perfect time, or a little late, to plant onions and  garlic. Last  fall  I build a rock garden bed and have planted some onions in it this spring. Below are some pics of the sprouting  onions.

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After things started warming  up a little, several odd things started  sprouting up. Years and years ago there were decorative bulbs planted here, but they haven’t showed up in years. I dug at the bases of these odd sprouts and found them coming from  below my added dirt. My  theory is after good fertilizing, and some watering, things have started  coming back out.

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Everyone says chickens don’t eat onions, which is true. That said, they will dig them up. This is  something to keep in mind when planting, as I will probably be putting up some sort of fence to  keep them out.

This is a gate I made in a couple hours from three pieces of EMT conduit and some galvanized fence wire.  Total cost: Less than $5 (not including the T-posts, which were already part of the fence).

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There is an insulated wire run through the conduit on top – This allows me to complete the circuit for the fence to work without electrifying the gate.

Recently I pruned our 13 fruit trees, of some 5 odd varieties. This post will give you the  jist of pruning, and then you can look more specifically into your variety.

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First of  all…

The main thing is just doing it. Once you get out there  with a pair of  hand  pruners and a good sharp saw, it becomes somewhat self explanatory. What I learned is you have to overcome the desire to spare your precious trees and ruthlessly prune. Seldom will you cut something you will wish you left, but you may have to go back many times for a twig here and a twig there. Before you begin check the overall health of the tree, especially for any rot at the base.

Many people prefer to start at the top, however I am giving instructions from the bottom up.

Keep in mind the shape of your tree. Is it supposed to be round, pointed??? Just get a general idea of the shape you are trying to get.  You will usually want to trim the bottom few limbs to keep growth upward vs having branches get massive close to the ground. Below a certain point on the tree there is no point in keeping small branches. At the top you may spare small twigs, but you should trim the bulk of last year’s lower growth.

Keep the future in mind. Will this branch have room to grow? Will this one help create a balanced shape, or is this area over crowded?

NOTE: Some small amounts of type specific info: Peaches need an open and airy center to help keep fruit well ventilated and prevent clear oozing gel (or so I read).

NOTE: Always cut with sharp tools in January/February to minimize damage. Make sure to remove all diseased or damaged growth. It is not a good idea to leave the prunings on the ground by the tree, as they can spread disease. I utilize the prunings as 1st rate rabbit chews.

EDITORS NOTE: Always prune trees/bushes when they are dormant (e.g. 3 weeks ago).  These are good general instructions, but always find specific directions for the specific type of fruit tree you are trimming – almost all fruit trees need pruned a little bit differently. While it may be self-explanatory to some, research anything you aren’t sure about before you start cutting.  If there are questions about a specific type of tree or bush, feel free to ask them in the comments.

Here are some pictures of my very own Planet Whizbang Garden Tote :

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I added the tool holder on the side, but full credit for the design goes to Herrick Kimball. If I make another one, I think I’d use the type of wood recommended in the instructions and not paint it. This one was made from scrap plywood.

Instructions and specifications can be found in “The Planet Whizbang Idea Book for Gardeners” – it’s an excellent book full of project plans and gardening ideas/tips. You can read more about the book or purchase a copy here:
http://whizbanggardening.blogspot.com/?m=1