Our 2021 garden: soil protection

We are quite pleased with the new garden beds at the chain link fence. They are working out very much as we intended, and the chain link is providing support for the plants, just as planned.

There is just one real problem.


While scavenging for wood I could use to make raised bed boxes for where the garlic was harvested, I noticed some other old wood in the barn. Today, I decided to grab a few boards and use them to help keep the soil where it belongs.

This is where the cucamelons and some gourds are planted. The ground slopes a bit here, so the bottom of the chain link fence has more of a gap under it. When we lay cardboard down first, we put flaps up against the chain link, but once the soil was added and things were being watered, the cardboard slid under the fence and the soil started to erode away.

It had been intended to place more of the chimney blocks along this section, to use them as planters like the ones we’re using as a retaining wall in the old kitchen garden. We still haven’t taken the last of those blocks out of the old basement (hauling those up the stairs and through the house is going to be difficult enough on its own, never mind no top of having to keep the cats out of that basement). We still intend to do it, though, and once they are in place, this will no longer be a problem. All that’s needed right now is to keep the soil from washing away under the fence, and taking the plants with it.

So for here, I just used a hoe to move enough soil to level things, then pushed boards under the bottom of the chain link from the outside. After that, I just tried to return some of the soil through the bottom of the fence, to hold the boards against the chain link. Otherwise, they would just lean inwards.

The boards were placed as far as the chicken wire critter barrier at the far end, making for a bit of overlap. It only needs to last until the end of the growing season, so as long as the boards keep the soil where it belongs, it’s doing its job.

More boards where then slid between the tomato plants and the chain link fence, though I did need to go back to the barn for another board. Erosion was not as much of a problem, here. There is much less of a gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground, so the cardboard flaps are still holding the soil in place. However, I wanted to add more soil under the tomatoes, and I didn’t want to be losing that.

Once the boards were in place, I was able to add quite a bit of soil, without having to worry about it sliding through the fence.

In time, this bed will get some sort of frame as well. What it will be made of will depend on what materials we end up acquiring. I’m leaning towards brick, partly because we are looking to use paving stones or something similar on the paths along both new beds.

The boards are just a stop gap measure for this season. Like most of the other wood I’m finding in the sheds and barn, it was reclaimed from somewhere, and has various levels of damage. They’re solid enough to do the job for the rest of the season, though, and I’m glad to have it!

The Re-Farmer

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