Gabions and Google…

I was out in the yard over this last weekend – preparing the garden for a long winter’s nap.  One of the tasks I did was clean up the edible garden area and throw down some crop cover.  Do I sound like a serious gardener or what – with the crop cover talk and such?  Ha ha!  I really don’t know what I am doing, but I am willing to experiment.  I happened to be researching organic, edible gardening last year and came upon the whole crop cover thing.  Apparently, a crop cover helps replenish nutrients in the soil and prevents wind/water erosion.  That sounds good to me so I am giving it a go.  Below is before (cucumber and tomato plants) and after (my crop cover of annual rye seeds covered with compost) pictures.

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You might be thinking – what does crop cover have to do with gabions and google (the title of this post)?  Here it is – I was planting some crop cover in my edible garden

– the edible garden is bordered on one side by gabions

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 – the google map picture people captured me working on the gabions – Yes, the google map picture of our house features me working on gabions!

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What is a gabion, you ask?  It is simply a wire basket or cage filled with rocks.

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Where in the world did we ever come up with the idea of gabions, you wonder?  Ironically, our north side yard was started and finished with a baseball themed inspiration.  As you might have already seen, the pitcher’s mound and home plate were completed this last 4th of July. Two years ago we kicked off the north side yard project with the installation of gabions.  We first saw gabions in Arizona a few years ago at the Rockies spring training facility.  We needed a retaining wall in our front yard and had been discussing our options – we were looking to replace existing railroad ties.  We thought the gabions were really interesting – we decided we wanted some in our yard.

I talked with a couple of landscapers – most had never heard of gabions – the others weren’t willing to take on a gabion project.  So – I decided to do it myself.  It was a bit of a challenge to find a manufacturer of gabions, but I was finally able to procure a few from a company somewhere in the midwest.

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Put together gabions

Then, I had a bunch of riprap (granite rubble) delivered.  When all was said and done – I moved, stacked, organized, and reorganized several tons of rock – all by myself.  Neighbors and passerbyers wondered why I was out there day after day, hour after hour – stacking rocks by myself.  They all asked why Tad wasn’t helping (he was conveniently out of town).  They all felt a little sorry for me I think.  I may have felt a little sorry for myself – I moved a serious amount of rock.  Here I am again working on the gabions – all alone – captured by the google maps people – please note the giant pile of riprap.

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A lot of people don’t understand the wire basket thing and why we would like it – many have asked if the gabion gets removed at some point.  Nope, the gabion stays in place.  We like the mixture of metal and rock.  We think it is interesting.  It reminds us of Spring Training.  The granite riprap works with the big granite boulders we have along our front yard.  My rock stacking isn’t perfect but I think it turned out pretty darn good.

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Stock Troughs to Container Garden…

Fall is quickly approaching so I am trying to cram in as many outdoor project posts as possible – my way of dragging out the summer!

The back half of our south side yard had been dirt and weeds for a few years.

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It took me awhile to finally get a plan in motion – like 2 years.  I know – 2 years does seem like a long time to be planning such a small area.  In my defense I feel like there were some challenges to the space that I struggled to problem solve.  It is a south facing (hot and dry), narrow area (maybe 5 feet wide at most) bordered by the house on one side and a 6 foot fence on the other.  This translates to sunny along the house but shady along the fence.  I also had to figure out room for a walking path and drainage for the roof gutters.

I finally decided to do containers for plantings along the house – mostly to control/minimize the water drainage near the house so as to not damage the foundation with watering.  I searched yards, books and the internet for months looking for ideas – finally, I found it – stock troughs – perfect for my long narrow space!   The guy at the local ranch supply store said they sell a bunch of these for container gardening – who knew..

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Next step was to order up some planters mix from a local landscaping materials company.  I spent a day hauling the dirt to the troughs – bucket by bucket – neighbors felt sorry for me – one offered a wheelbarrow.  I think I counted 30ish buckets per trough – it was great exercise!

Next, we made a trip to the local stone yard and picked up some flagstone for the foot path.

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The roof gutter drainage problem was solved by creating a dry creek bed/drainage swell along the shady fence side.  This involved two trips to the local landscaping materials yard to procure small river rocks.

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A call to the sprinkler system guys to add irrigation to this area – and it was ready for planting!

Hens and chicks were the first plantings – I found a bunch on sale last fall.  I planted them along the dry creek bed as a border of sorts.

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In the spring , we were at Lowe’s with my mom checking out plants – we found “Sedum Tiles” – these tiles were the best find of the season!  I planted it as ground cover between the flagstone stepping stones.  I love these tiles so much that when I came across some at the local nursery, I bought up a bunch more for the “sculpture garden” area (more on this area in the future).  Anyway, these sedums have  thrived – they are spreading and filling in beautifully.

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I am trialing a mini strawberry field as a ground cover along the house.  These have done quite well, so I am planning to fill in all along the side of the house next spring.  This will make the squirrels and birds very, very, very happy!

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The troughs got artichokes, peppers, asparagus, and marigolds.

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Finally, the hostas were moved from the front garden (which is also getting a makeover in the near future) to their own zone.  They are looking good so far.

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It is really surprising to us how good this area looks in such a short time.  Tad keeps saying that it is all about the water…

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Oh – and I think I have started a trough trend in the neighborhood.  A few blocks away, troughs have shown up in a front yard!  You saw it here first!  Well sort of – I think I actually saw it on Houzz first.

Moving on to the front south side yard – rearranging some plants, moving the foot path, and more…

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Cucumber Crime…

Three days ago I had three lemon cucumbers near harvest.  Today I go to check on them and they are MISSING!  Someone or some thing has stolen my cucumbers.  I realize it isn’t a felony, but what is the deal with that?  Was it a person, the neighbor, a squirrel, a fox (that was Tad’s suggestion), or big foot?

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It’s not like I needed three more cucumbers.  I have five in the refrigerator right now and about thirty little ones still on the vine.  It is just weird – I am not even sure most people would realize it is a cucumber – being that it is round and yellow.

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The issue I have is that someone unlatched our gate and made their way into our yard without an invitation – I don’t much like that idea.  Plus, it is a year this week that someone broke in to our house and took our stuff.  We have since installed a security system and some exterior door guards for the locksets.  Now I am thinking about installing a camera/web feed around the place to see who or what might be swiping the vegetables.  I am curious that way.  I am really hoping it was just a squirrel – or Big Foot…

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