Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekend Projects

So on Saturday, Cathy joined her sisters at 7:15 am for a trip to Madison for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) Art Fair on the Square. Having woken up early with Cathy to be a nice guy and have the coffee ready for when she left, I was ready for the day's activities at about 7:30 am, but I had no idea what they were. So, after coming back from a run and sitting on the deck looking into the yard, I noticed that the rows between the garden beds were a bit embarrassing.

Planting and maintaining the garden is easy and enjoyable; the rows between, not so much. Cathy and I had tossed some ideas around as to what to do in between the beds like laying possibly stone of some kind or maybe some mulch. We definitely wanted to put down some kind of weed blocking material so that removing the weeds from in between wouldn't be too much trouble, or if lucky, won't ever have to do it again. Last year, it took us about 2 hours to remove all of the weeds from the two rows. Well, since Cathy was gone and since I had the whole day to myself, I figured that it would make for a nice surprise to have the rows all taken care of when she returned.

Before I started de-weeding, I ran over to Stein's to pick up some mulch. I decided to go with mulch instead of stones figuring that if the lawn mower was to kick out mulch, it wouldn't hurt as much compared to if it kicked out a stone. Plus, I figured that the mulch would do a better job of choking out any weeds. I picked up a dozen bags of the 2 cubic feet Red Cedar mulch.

Back at home, with the dog supervising, I started on the first row. It took me about 2 hours to remove all of the weeds. It was interesting seeing all of the different insects when I was removing the weeds. Cathy would have hated it this year as I had come across a number of spiders and even some carrying some egg sacs. Although garden spiders help very much in controlling pests in gardens and the weeds were probably providing a nice habitat, the weeds had to go.

As a weed blocker, Cathy had suggested that we could use up our shredded paper as the weed blocker and then put the mulch on top. The idea is that the paper will block out the sun but allow the water through (see "Use Newspaper for Mulch"). Little by little, I added some of our shredded paper (about 1-2 inches deep), wet it down so it wouldn't blow away, and then add a layer (2-3 inches deep) of the mulch on top. All of our shredded paper (3 paper bags full) covered about 3/4 of the row and I used newspaper for the rest. I went through about 5.5 bags of mulch. It took about a half an hour to complete lay down the paper and mulch. So in total, it took about 2.5 hours to finish the first row.

After a quick bite to eat, I started up on the second row. Again, it took about 2 hours to remove all of the weeds. I had a little bit of news paper left but it didn't get that far down the row. So, I cut up our paper bags from the grocery store for the rest of the row; I just made it to the end of the row with the last paper bag bits. I used about the same amount of mulch on the second row as I did on the first. And, as I was spreading out the last bit of mulch at the end of the second row, Cathy returned from her trip.

A surprise it was indeed. Below is a before and after picture of the garden beds (and rows). I had forgotten to take a picture before starting the work, so the "before" picture is a week old. Notice how much the garden has grown in that one week? Now imagine the weeds growing additionally that much.


Having completed all of that work on Saturday on my own, I wasn't planning on doing anything on Sunday except for relaxing and enjoying the day. Hmm...that garage exit has always been bugging me and since Cathy was busy making bread and blanching the harvested brocolli, spinach, and collard greens, maybe I should fix it today.

I wish I took a before picture so you could see what it was like, but I forgot to yet again. Let's just say there was a concrete cinder block just below the doorway as well as some bricks stacked up next to it. Any time I want to take something out or into the garage like the lawn mower or wheel barrel, it was always a pain having to navigate the blocks.

So, I ran over to Home Depot and picked up a crushed limestone, sand, weed blocking material, a rubber mallet, and a tamper. I was basically working off of the instructions provided by About.com landscape site. The pattern itself was to match the pattern for our main patio--completely random order. After about a whole afternoon of work, including the head scratching to have the bricks fit in a random pattern, I was very happy with the final result. I even had the chance to test it out when I put the wheel barrel away in the garage--it worked wonderfully.


Well, now that the projects for the weekend are done, I can finally relax for the rest of the weekend ;-)

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