The days of joyously working out in ye olde garden are about to come to a screeching halt. Rain is due in next week. :(
It's a time to reflect on the landscaping jobs that didn't get done this summer -- and work furiously to complete what you can.
Case in point? The new planter box located to your right. This is one of the last BIG boxes that I will build for the backyard -- at least -- I think that's the plan at this point.
But you never know what the future has in store for this "Backyard in Progress."
The supports holding up the new planter box *should* be sitting on a layer of freshly planted grass. Should is a key word in the world of landscaping. It's one of those projects that just didn't get done earlier this spring. The legislative year was a rather tough one on us legislative types. A lot of time that could have been spent in the backyard, was instead spent at my desk in the State Capitol.
It's not a complaint mind you. It's more of a lament. Like most "Weekend Warriors" I always bite off far more than I can chew when it comes to the two issues of "projects planned" and "projects completed."
The box above illustrates that point. The goal was to build the box, stain the box, put it in place in one of the side yards, install drip irrigation inside the box, move five yards of planter mix into the backyard and then -- finally -- fill the box with planter mix and other soil amendments.
Yeah -- umm -- good plan. I can tell you -- at this point -- that the box is "built." And we'll have to wrap it up from there.
This is why the new box is needed. That lovely greenery to your right? Those are the artichoke plants that sprang back to life about a month ago. This box had been nothing but bare soil after I cleaned out and cut back last season's artichoke plantings. But, as you can tell, next spring's crop is already off to an enormous head start.
The new box will be placed to the immediate right of this box pictured to your left -- about eight feet away. In between the two is a lovely Pomegranate Tree -- the Sweet variety -- that is producing a bumper crop of large, gorgeous-red pomegranates in just its second year of production. It's one of the most productive -- and successful I might add -- fruit trees that I've got growing in the backyard. When the tree finally reaches it's maximum height and width -- it well be framed against the two artichoke boxes. I'm hoping for a pretty good show.
The slowdown in the local housing market does have at least one silver lining. It means the lumber selections at the nearby Man's Toy Store, aka Home Depot, are not just "pretty good" but OUTSTANDING. Add to that? The wood is CHEAP. If I would have tried to purchase the redwood boards that I used to build the new box in 2005, it would have cost twice as much and the quality of the wood would have been far inferior.
Don't be fooled. The box pictured to your right is constructed with nothing more than the cheapest redwood fencing board that Home Depot offers. Sure, it doesn't look like fencing board after I get done with it -- but it's nothing more than that. The wider, thicker, boards that make up the sides and ends of the box are currently selling for about a $1.50. The thinner "trim" boards that line the top and sides (including the center "V for Venus finish job) are selling for less than a buck.
The box is held together with one foot sections of a redwood 2X4. There's one in every corner plus two more in the middle for added stability.
The nice thing about this project is the good folks in the Home Depot lumber department will be more than happy to do the bulk of the required cutting for you. That includes the one foot sections of the anchor 2X4. The trim boards are cut later, after the main part of the box is constructed. But, other than the 45-degree angles required for the "V for Venus" finish decoration, the cutting job is a fairly simple one.
Here's how it works: I pick the best looking boards that I can find out of the stack of redwood fencing lumber in the center of the lumber department. The edges must be smooth. The boards need to be relatively free of knots, which are tough to saw through and will fall out later after the wood is seasoned. Once I find six of the most perfect boards that I can find -- I move on to the trim boards -- where I repeat the process of finding five or six of the best boards that I can find. The final step is finding a single, unblemished, six foot long, redwood 2X4. There's at least one or two in every stack.
Next? I move over to the saw and issue some fairly straightforward cutting instructions. I want the dog-ear, top portions, of the six wide fencing boards lopped off completely. That provides four boards for the sides. The remaining two boards are then cut in half -- providing me with the end pieces. And finally? The six foot redwood 2X4 is cut into one foot sections.
The project also requires the purchase of gold screws in differing sizes -- and then everything gets loaded into the car for the final trip home.
The project is easier if you have three cordless drills at the ready. One is used for drilling pilot holes for the screws. Another drill is outfitted with a countersink. And the third and final drill is used for the actuall drilling of the screws that will hold the box together. Without the three drills, you're switching implements from one drill to another, which will slow you down.
At some point this weekend I will move this box to its new home on the other end of the yard, install drip irrigation, and wait for the rains to come. If the weather cooperates? I'll move soil in the following weekend and then start transplanting artichoke plants from the old bed to the new bed.
If the weather doesn't cooperate? Well -- there's always blogging...