Case in point: I have tabled the hat rack cushions for now, deciding that central Texas garden season is well underway and our pitiful garden entrance is screaming for attention. I have set foot inside the garden a few times, I really have, but not enough to have brought it up to the state it should be this far into the year. One barrier for me right now is the awful menagerie of plastic mesh fencing, and stakes, and bungee cords that obstruct the opening. It’s there for a reason. Our 20-some cats love to ‘help’ in the garden, realizing that freshly tilled garden dirt is far superior to litter box granules! But cat urine is a very bad ingredient in a soil recipe, so we do what we can to discourage them. It doesn’t always work, but our ugly gate/fence/entrance here has cut back somewhat on them getting in. (Hotwire is effective too!) All through the winter, as short as it was for our region, I didn’t need to access the garden as much, so we rigged up this bit of ugliness across the opening. The photo (another embarrassing tattoo?) shows what I’m talking about.
Keep in mind, it was taken during the off-season when nothing but weeds were growing, and I had given up caring, for the most part. But, still... yikes!
So this garden entrance will be my next project, only requiring minimal help from Hubbs with strong arms and my father-in-law with a Bobcat. Mostly, I think I can manage it myself. You’d think I would’ve gotten this entrance done last year at the very start of my Texas gardening experience, but it just got TOO HOT too soon, and I couldn’t bear to spend one more second outside than necessary. It’s hard to imaging how this area looked when it was just a field with cows and horses grazing in it.
So here’s a stroll down memory lane from one year ago. The first step was to disc the ground.
Once again, it was my father-in-law to the rescue. In fact, he helped in so many ways that his name could appear in almost every sentence describing the first couple of months of garden beginnings. So F-I-L did the disc work around the whole corner of this field. We incorporated a light fertilizer and he churned up the soil a couple more times. The soil analysis turned up some surprising good numbers, so we didn't need that many amendments right off the bat.
Then F-I-L erected real fencing around the perimeter of the 50 x 115 foot garden. I helped him for two days straight and it was the most rigorously physical work I had experienced in a long time! I didn’t even do the hardest parts of the work, just assisted as best I could. Thanks to the Bobcat auger, drilling the post holes wasn’t too much of a chore, but everything after that was hard work. We took advantage of an existing fence for one long side of the garden and only needed to add the other three sides to enclose it. We set 26 more fence posts, bracing the ends and corners, and attached some serious 5-foot-high horse fencing. A deer could still bolt over it effortlessly, but maybe not with more of that hotwire extending outward and upwards.
I proceeded to set some reddish concrete pavers vertically to create raised beds. This one was for the future 6’x10’strawberry patch (now plush with healthy plants, flowers and the beginnings of a bountiful harvest!), and was followed by 2 more beds of the same size which became permanent herb beds.
And finally, this last photo shows the meager beginnings of the garden. We had a freakishly late freeze last April which killed the tomatoes and stunted the potatoes (in the foreground) and surprised everyone three whole weeks after the last freeze should have happened.
It’s funny to see such a barren space, and I hardly remember it looking this way, as it soon filled up with cornfields, squash, okra, more tomatoes, more covered hoop rows, beans, peas, Armenian cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe... and the list goes on. I learned a whole lot about organic gardening, and while I felt like a failure at times, I discovered a lot of what NOT to do, and what NO one, even expert master gardeners, can do in temperatures constantly over a hundred degrees.
So that catches me up to date and it seems fitting that this year’s improvements start with a proper entryway. I can’t tolerate straddling and tripping over that mess of a blockade to enter the garden anymore! So you’ve seen the ‘before’ shot. I estimate the ‘after’ shot will be unveiled in a couple weeks (or months), but I'll keep you updated all along.
Hubbs and I love Asian architecture and are patterning this project after Japanese Shinto gates. See this example: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/11244305.jpg
I'm shooting for something similar to my crude drawing here, which could take some twists and turns as it develops. Don’t be too surprised if I add my own ‘flair’ to the design. I'm not striving for anything strictly authentic. But I will head roughly in this direction:
I’ll leave you with one more detail from the Nemo Room, since I haven’t worked on anything Nautilus related in awhile.
I will report in much detail when I get back to working in there, but I thought you might like to see the floor design I painted. There was a nasty crack in the floor that fought wood fillers, and putties, and even defied the Bondo epoxy mixture made especially for wood. So we gave up and decided to camouflage the line by making enough visual texture and detail so the eye just wouldn’t see the crack. Most of the floor is fleck-speckled with little bits of red/black/tan and coated with a super strong shell of a garage floor topcoat, but the main traffic path is now this faux metal grate walkway. It also has several layers of a clear sealant topcoat. (Pardon the plastic sheeting- as cat proofing the fresh work was important.) I felt like I was working rather sloppily with this, but the effect is still decent, and the bolts look somewhat realistic.
Stay tuned for more garden news...