Preserving the harvest: minted

Yesterday, I weeded mint out of the beet bed – one entire end was completely stunted because they were shaded out – then kept on going, harvesting mint from the path as well. The sump pump drains into here, and the growth is absolutely lush! By the time I was done, I had a huge arm full! This is all mint that was here before we moved in, so we have no idea what variety it is. I know it’s not spearmint. I don’t think it’s peppermint, either, but I really can’t say for sure.

Once inside, I took the best leaves off the stems and gave them a wash. Then I cleaned up and dragged in the old window screens we used last year for curing onions, drying spinach, etc. I covered the mesh with paper towels, then set out as many leaves as I could fit onto them to dry.

I didn’t even use half of what I’d gathered!

Yes, this is the drying mint!

I used small glasses and jars as spacers so we could stack the screens on top of each other, but the cats were incredibly interested in what was going on. So we put more little jars as spacers on the top and covered the whole thing with a cloth. We still caught them on top of the stack, but at least the cloth kept the leaves clean.

Then, some time later, my daughter got Cheddar out from under the cloth at one end. *sigh* We tucked the ends under the bottom screen as best we could.

When I lifted the cloth on one side this morning, however, I found the cats had still managed to get under it!

I salvaged what I could and set it up again on the old dishwasher that’s still waiting to be taken out to the junk pile. Since the leaves have shrunk, I was able to fit them closer together on the screens that needed to be redone. For now, we’re keeping the sheet off, so they can get more air circulation.

Drying things on screens like this can work quite well, but protecting it from the cats is a problem!

Meanwhile, I used fresh mint to make a big pot of strong mint tea this morning, and there is still lots left in the fridge. There is much more to harvest in the garden, as we want, too.

The chives are blooming right now and ready to harvest if we want to make infused chive blossom oil or vinegar again. We have the olive oil to do that now, but I won’t be picking up more of the white wine vinegar I like to use until we do our next city trip. I might just harvest the chives, anyway, and freeze the extra until we are ready to make the infusion.

I love that we can already start harvesting things and preserving them!

The Re-Farmer

Getting cozy (crochet talk)

One of my favourite crafts to do is to crochet. I am even a teacher, certified with the Crochet Guild of America, and quite enjoyed doing classes, back in the day.

These days, I don’t crochet very much, partly because my hands have become so rough, most yarns catch on my fingers, even pulling the loop off my hook at times. I don’t like the idea of working with high end, $30 skeins of yarn, only to have my hands catch on the strands and tear them apart. And no; working with gloves on is not an option!

Also, hand lotion does butkiss.

One kind of yarn that doesn’t do that is cotton. So when my daughter came to me with a request for a basket cozy for her teas, it was the perfect project for some nice, sturdy cotton!

With a special appearance from Ginger!

For her birthday, we got her a set for making matcha, so of course she had to get a nice selection of matcha blends to use it with. Taking advantage of a sale at David’s Tea, she was able to get a whole bunch of mixes, plus some straight up matcha. I didn’t realize the basket was for just her matcha teas, and used what colours I had. They just happened to suit the intended contents!

This was done with two strands on the hook, with the main colour a darker green, because I had enough of that yarn for the entire project. The other colours I had were in much smaller amounts.

To make this box, I started by making a flat rectangle for the base, a couple of rows smaller than the size I wanted, in single crochet. Then the base got a round of single crochet on all sides, which brought it to the desired finished size. Then, a loose round of slip stitch was worked into that last round. The slip stitches formed the base the sides were worked from. Each side was worked individually. I did the long sides, first, using a mint green I had just barely enough of, then switched to a sort of periwinkle blue for the short sides. I used just the main colour, in a single strand, to stitch the corners together with a modified single crochet. Then I went back to the blue and green combination to go all around the top to tidy it up. Finally, I used a single strand of bright green and a smaller hook, to tighten up that top, so it won’t flop around as much. To keep the corners from becoming rounded, I just added a little picot that doubled as decoration.

As the sides were worked from the slip stitched loops on the base, that left open loops facing outwards. Switching back to the larger hook and using the bright green with the main grain, I did one last round of single crochet into those loops, to make the base a bit more stable, and balance out that bright green at the top.

My daughter was very happy with it!

It was so much fun, today I made another tea cozy. This time, for one of my tea cups.

I think these were actually sold as soup cups. It’s about twice the size of your basic coffee mug.

Normally, when I make cup cozies, I make them with a strap that goes through the handle and buttons into place on the other side. It not only holds the cozy in place, but it protects your fingers from coming in contact with a scalding hot cup. Which is a big deal for people with nerve damage in their hands that prevents them from feeling heat!

That design works great with regular mugs, but with a cup that’s short and fat (like me!), they would slide off on the side opposite the handle.

So for this one, I made an over-the-handle loop. I started with a round, flat base that was just barely the same size as the bottom of the cup, then worked a couple of rounds without increasing, to start building up the sides. After that, I worked in rows, leaving a 5 stitch gap for the handle. I had very little of this yarn, and Nosencrantz had gotten to the purple, chewing through in several places, so I used the little bits for the stripes. Between the two colours, I managed to finish it. 😀

After finishing with the last two rows in blue, I joined the purple at the handle gap, working down from the right hand side, then around to the top of the other side. This closed up the handle gap from a 5 stitch opening to a 3 stitch opening. After making a little 3 chain loop at the corner, I then slip stitched into the last row of blue, all the way around, with the last slip stitch worked into the first stitch in purple. Next, I made a chain 3 to close the gap, slip stitching into the 3 chain loop at the opposite corner, then finishing off the yarn.

The slip stitches keep the top edge from being too stretchy, and the loop stretched over the handle pulls it all in. There is no way this cozy is going to slide off the other side!

I’m using it right now and, in retrospect, I would change one thing. I would make it one row shorter. That would require making the handle loop a chain or two longer to reach over the handle, without too much strain on the strands. When drinking from the cup, the cozy is juuuust tall enough that it gets in the way of my lips a bit.

We have three more cups like this (alas, our fourth one broke). I think I have enough cotton yarn to tweak it a bit and make a couple more. 🙂

I really love doing structural crochet. I also love making useful, rather than decorative, things. I’m glad I can still work with cotton, because it’s perfect for both.

The Re-Farmer

Making seed pots from toilet paper tubes, two ways

While I have purchased pots that can be planted directly into the soil when it’s time to transplant seedlings, the sheer number of such pots we will need makes buying enough for all of them bad for the budget. In particular, I want to start the kulli corn in biodegradable pots, for as little root disturbance as possible.

After last year’s attempt to use toilet paper tubes failed dramatically, largely due to using peat as a growing medium (it simply would not absorb moisture all the way through!), we’re going to try things a bit different this time.

There are a lot of web pages and videos on how to make pots from toilet paper tubes. This one is the best one I’ve seen so far. There’s the added bonus of it showing the pots made into squares, which was what I was thinking of doing already.

It’s pretty basic, really.

We knew we’d need a lot of tubes, so we’ve been saving them for many months. Last year, I had a fairly large box that we would drop the tubes in, and when we ran out of room I’d transfer them to a storage bin, to make more space.

Which was really silly, now that I think about it. It only matters if you want to keep the tubes round, and there is no need for that at all.

This little box has two layers of tubes in it. After flattening a tube, I’d drag it across the edge of the bathroom counter, to crease the fold even more.

It’s amazing how many tubes can be fit into such a small box this way!

Today, I snagged some of them to make pots for the tree seeds. I don’t know if there are any roots starting to show in the little baggies of soil. I am thinking it would be much less disruptive on the roots to “transplant” them now – when there may not even be any roots yet – into little pots, compared to trying to move them out of the baggies when the roots are actually visible.

So I grabbed a dozen tubes for the paw paw seeds, first. The different brands all have different tubes. The ones I grabbed were the tallest, with the thickest carboard.

This first batch was done like in the video.

The first thing that needed to be done was give them all a second crease for the square, keeping the sides even by lining up the first creases with each other. The carboard was way too thick to fold them like he does in the video.

Then, just because I prefer sharp creases, I ran the tubes over the edge of the desk I was working on. You can tell the difference it made in the photo above. The tube I am holding is not being squeezed in any way. For the other one, I’d laid the tube flat on the desk and pulled my metal ruler over it to sharpen the crease. Which it did, but not as much as using the edge of the desk.

The creases were about 1 1/2 inches apart, so that is the distance than needed to be marked from the edge.

Since I had the cutting mat and a metal ruler, I only needed to mark one tube out of six. After lining them up along the bottom edge of the cutting mat, I could line the end of the ruler up to the side edge and the long edge with the mark on the first tube, across all the tubes.

Using the ruler to hold the tubes in place, I could mark them all at once, then repeat for the next batch. This way, it only took two lines to mark all 12 tubes.

The next step was to cut slits at the creases, up to the marked line, to create flaps.

Then the flaps were all folded inwards to create a bottom.

Once they were all folded under, I set up the storage container I got for them, and some water.

All the bottoms got dipped in water, then tucked into the storage box.

With these tubes, four of them fit snugly across a short side, so they’re not going to flop around. This was an important consideration when I went looking for bins to use for this. When we used the toilet paper tubes last year, the tubes came apart completely once they got wet, even as the peat in the middles remained bone dry. I wanted straight sided bins that were fairly small, to hold them all tightly. If the tubes were still round, they would have taken up more space, but there would be gaps between them, and I didn’t want those gaps, either.

These now will be left to dry, and we’ll fill them tomorrow.

For the next batch, more tubes were needed. We have 26 tulip tree seeds to transfer.

After grabbing a bunch of tubes, I found a couple of shorter ones. There is a surprising amount of variance between brands! I switched out the shorter ones for taller ones.

Height is why I wanted to change how the bottoms were done for this batch. With how the first ones were done, each flap completely covers the bottom, making a 4 layer thick base. There’s no need for that.

So for these ones, instead of cutting flaps that were half the width of each side, I went for a quarter of the width.

That worked out to be 3/4s of an inch. Each square in the grid on the cutting mat is 1/4 inch, so the tubes were all lined up to the base line of the grid…

…then the ruler was lined up with the 3/4 inch line, on each side of the row of tubes.

Which was a bit of a pain, when it came to using the ruler to hold the tubes in place while marking the line, since there was a space under the ruler.

It was much easier to do it from the middle instead of the ends. 😀

Then the tubes all got slits cut along the creases, up to the line.

When folded in, this allowed for them to overlap and be locked into position.

These tubes were slightly shorter than the ones used in the previous batch, but by doing it this way, the pots ended up taller, as you can see in the comparison above.

Since the flaps could hold themselves in place, I could have skipped the water part if I wanted to, but I chose not to. They got dipped.

This brand’s tubes were not only a different length, but also a slightly different width. Just enough that they did not fit snugly across the short side. However, 8 tubes did fit snugly along the long side.

Tomorrow, these two sets of pots will be filled and planted with tree seeds. The tree seedlings will remain in pots for 2 years before being transplanted to their permanent locations outdoors. Starting them in these will allow us to “pot up” the seedlings into large pots as they get bigger, without disturbing the long tap roots they are expected to develop.

After these are done, we’ll start prepping tubes for the kulli corn. As with the tree seeds, it will be one seed per tube, so we will need 100 of these. I was able to find slightly larger versions of these bins, and one should be able to fit all 100 of these pots. The bins also have lids of the same transparency as the bins, which will allow us to use them as cat-proof greenhouses, if necessary.

I think I might have to pick up more of them. They’ll make moving seedlings outside to harden off much easier, too! They also happen to be pretty inexpensive, too. After much searching when doing shopping trips in the city, I found them at a local Red Apple store, which was just an added bonus. I’d actually found some at the local dollar store I was going to settle for, but the sides weren’t quite as straight, and the lids were opaque. I’m glad I decided at the last minute, to try another store.

The dollar store bins will instead be used to hold the little odd balls of yarn and small crochet projects on the go by my desktop, that the cats keep managing to steal away, so matter how diligently I bag them up!

The Re-Farmer

This year’s Christmas decorations

Every year, I used to make new decorations for our Christmas tree, and to share with family. We had a multi-year hiatus for a number of reasons, including moving here, but I’ve started the tradition up again.

Each year, I try to do something different, hopefully learn a new skill, and use materials at hand. This year, I started with…

… cans.

Specifically, the cans from Costco’s canned chicken. I liked their size.

My daughter was kind enough to spray paint them gold for me, which took several days and several layers. Paint doesn’t like to cure when it’s cold, and she ended up having to do it in the old basement – forgetting that the furnace is there. 😀 The paint didn’t want to adhere to the metal very well, but once it set, it was good.

Those were turned into…

… these.

Most of the materials used were from a dollar store. I tried to find really tiny Christmas trees but ended up getting some floral wire made to look like sprigs. I cut and twisted some together to make little trees, two of which are behind the little church. The ribbon, birds, gifts, bells, glitter paper, wooden stars and fake snow were also from the dollar store. I already had metallic card stock that I used to create platforms, as well as the other wooden pieces. A family member gifted me with a storage box fill of little wooden pieces, years ago, and I finally got to use some!

I did some wood burning on the starts and the church. My daughter painted the church and the books. I just love how the books look!

You can see in the flash picture that she used metallic gold on the books. She also used some metallic paint for details on the church. When I tried to find things small enough for the wreath behind the gifts, she dug around and find some teeny, tiny “gem” shapes she had saved from somewhere. I ended up using several different types of adhesives I happened to have, to hold everything in place. As long as they did the job and dried clear, I wasn’t too fussy!

These are too large to hang on our little Christmas tree, but they will be perfect to add to the lights and garlands we have running across the dining room cabinets at the ceiling.

With having to wait for paint to cure and some adhesives to dry, this took a lot longer than I originally expected. The most difficult part was cutting holes into the metal, then threading cord through for the hangers. I couldn’t be sure where to place the holes until after the insides were done. The church steeple was particularly awkward! Craft tweezers came in very handy! The bells needed their own hole, and I had to figure out how to hang those, and ended up using a piece of the tree-sprig floral wire, then using an extra wide ribbon to edge it, to make sure the part that’s on top was well secured.

I’m quite happy with the finished result!

The Re-Farmer

High raised bed – it’s done!

Oh, my goodness, what a difference having that new chainsaw made!

But before I could break it in, I needed to drag down the stuck tree, so I could use the wood in the high raised bed. Thanks to my husband very securely attaching the hooks I got to the rope I got – rope rated to 450 pounds – it was a simple matter to use the van to pull it out.

My goodness, where those top branches ever entangled! When I started pulling it, it didn’t fall, but stayed stuck until I got far enough that the tree was no longer dragging on the ground, but lifting up. At which point, it rolled up and got dragged over the compost ring, then finally it broke free from the branches and dropped.

Right on the cherry trees we are intending to cut away, so there’s no loss there!

After replacing a large divot of sod that got dragged out, I then used the baby chain saw to start cutting away the branches, and cutting away the top of the tree.

Then it got rolled onto the compost ring, so the rest of the branches could be trimmed off.

Finally, it was time to break out the new chainsaw!

Of course, I took the time to read the manual, first, then added chainsaw oil to the reservoir.

Then I measured out and cut a pair of nine foot lengths from the tree trunk.

The bucksaw does a great job, but the chainsaw did in mere seconds what would have taken me probably 5, maybe even 10, minutes, per cut, by hand!

Then, while I dragged the logs over to the high raised bed, I helped a daughter move the rest of the tree trunk aside, so they could set up the wood chipper. They cleaned up all the dead branches from the tree, as well as the little cherry trees we’d cut away to access the last tree we’d cut down.

They spent more time prepping the branches to fit the chipper and shredder, than actually doing the chipping and shredding! Unfortunately, the little spruce branches were so twisted, they ended up clogging the shredder chute to the point that my daughter had to take it off to unclog it. Once that was cleared up, they did a few celebratory shreds before heading inside to start on supper.

Meanwhile…

I started working on the high raised bed by first taking it apart! I cut away the notches in the base logs so that the cross pieces would sit lower, and no longer have that gap that was there before. I also was able to clean up the cuts and make adjustments, as needed.

The new nine foot lengths were thicker than I thought, so after I put the bottom cross pieces back, I used the new logs for the next level.

I ended up not needing to cut notches in them at all. Instead, I was able to just adjust and cut the notches in the next level of cross pieces to fit.

It was SO much faster and easier to cut the notches with the chain saw! Pretty much every notch we’d cut before needed modification.

I used smaller, thinner, logs at the top, which turned out to be a pain. These are from higher in the tree, which meant they were not as straight, and had more little branch stubs all over. I ended up having to trim logs along their lengths to get rid of lumpy bits, so things would sit against each other better.

Then I went and cut two more four foot lengths to do the last cross pieces.

There we have it! The high raised bed is built!

Standing next to a corner, it’s just barely reaches my hip. For mobility and accessibility purposes, we could probably have gone higher than this, but I think this will be fine.

Now, we just need to fill it! We’ve got old logs for the bottom, with corn stalks, leaves, grass clippings and garden waste to layer in. I’ll add thin layers of soil in between each layer of organic matter before topping it off with soil for about the depth of the top logs.

That will be a job for tomorrow!

I may have had to juggle the budget a bit to get that chainsaw, but it was worth every penny. There is no way I could have finished this today, without it. In fact, I have my doubts I would have been able to finish it before winter, at the rate things were going!

About the only other thing we might end up doing with this is maybe get some short pieces of rebar, drill holes through the top couple of logs and set the rebar in them to really make sure the logs stay in place.

It’s really a horrible, messy, slapdash job, but it will still probably last us many years.

Now we just need to cut down more dead trees, so we’ll have the material to build more!

The Re-Farmer

Reflective

I remembered to go out in the dark and take a flash picture of the sign I’m working on. Looking at it on my phone, I didn’t think I got very good coverage. It wasn’t until I uploaded the photos onto my desktop that I could see how funny it was.

On the sign itself, you can see spots that are reflecting more than the rest. They were the same in each of the photos, which I took at different angles, which tells me that yes, it’s the covering, and not, say, the LED flash on my phone.

It’s what I see around the sign that is funny. All those white looking spots around the sign? Even on the grass? That’s the reflective paint! It’s everywhere! 😀 It was a bit windy when I was spraying it. I expected a bit on the wall of the cat’s house, and a smattering on the posts below, but I did not expect to see that much on the grass or on the ends of the sledge the cat’s house is resting on!

So… if it’s calm enough tomorrow, I’ll give it another coat, then check it again! 😀

At least I know the stuff works!

The Re-Farmer

Bee rescue, and new sign started

Yesterday, looking at the weather radar, I had expected that we would catch the edge of a weather system that was being pushed up from the southeast. Which is what usually happens.

Instead, the system ended up going right over us, and we had heavy rain all day and most of the night. We are expected to continue to get rain today and tomorrow, and remain cool until the day after.

I didn’t think the bee on the sunflower would survive that long.

We have a mini greenhouse in the sun room, so I lay the cover of a seed starter kit upside down on the top shelf, and had a sieve ready to use as a cover, then went to cut the sunflower off and bring the bee over. It had actually moved a bit since I last looked at it, which was encouraging. We had set up a light fixture on the top of the mini greenhouse with a full spectrum, incandescent light bulb in it, to keep our seedlings warm. The sun room wasn’t much warmer than outside, so I turned the light on to add a bit of warmth, making sure the fixture was tilted away, so it was more indirect.

The bee is hidden by the petals on the sunflower, in the above picture.

If the bee were sluggish and staying on the sunflower only because of the temperature, I expected to see it become active fairly soon. If that wasn’t the reason it was still on the sunflower, I expected to find a dead bee.

Since it’s too wet to work on outside projects, I set up in the old kitchen to start an inside project. Since the sign with my late father’s name on it got disappeared from the corner of the property, I decided we needed a new one, as it had been a landmark we could use to give directions to our place. Yesterday, I went rifling through the barn and found a scrap of half inch plywood that was in decent shape, brought it over and gave it a cleaning. Today, it was dry and ready for painting.

We still had some white paint from when we fixed the door into the sun room and repainted the frame as well, and there is enough to do at least two coats.

It’s just a bit bigger than the top of our freezer! 🙂

The first coat is done, and tomorrow I will give it a second coat. I will also look for wood that I can attach to the back to make posts that can be driven into the ground. The sign that disappeared had been attached to the corner post of the fence, but all those old fence posts along there are falling and need to be replaced, so I want to mount the sign independently from the fence.

After the paint is dry, but before the lettering is painted on, I plan to give the whole thing a spray with some reflective paint I picked up a while back. This way, the background should highlight the lettering when hit by headlights as people turn the corner towards our driveway.

We’ve been talking about coming up with a name for the farm, just for fun. It has always been really important to my parents that the farm stay in the family name, which is why it went to my older brother, who has sons and now grandsons, to carry on the name. So out of respect for my late father, I have decided to simply use our family name on the sign, however I will also include our driveway marker number, with the municipal road name, which is also our family name, and an arrow towards our driveway. The road sign with our family name on it that disappeared when the stop sign it was mounted on was broken, never got replaced, so having that road name on the sign will be helpful for our neighbours, too. Which means I will have two lines of lettering, plus an arrow, on this sign when it’s done.

I think we might also need to set up another camera on it, just in case. I have no proof that our vandal stole the old sign, but if we put up a new one, with our family name on it, I suspect it will infuriate him, and our restraining order against him is still going through the court system.

After I finished with the first coat of paint, I checked on the bee, and was happy to find it crawling actively around the sunflower. I’m very glad we had it covered!

We tucked the entire sunflower into a plant pot (our houseplants are still outside), where it would be more protected, both from the weather and from curious kitties. Happily, it immediately began crawling around even more. Hopefully, it will be able to make its way back to its hive, wherever that may be. Most local bees are more solitary, and have hives underground, so there is no way to know where it came from. At least now it has a chance, and we need all the pollinators we can get!

As much as I appreciate the rain we are having, I’m looking forward to when it clears so I can get back to work outside. I got a transaction notification from my bank, showing that Veseys has charged us for the garlic we ordered. That means they will be shipped soon. Possibly even today or tomorrow. I’ll get an email notification when they do. They will need to be planted soon after they arrive. That means we are running out of time to prepare a bed for the garlic. If the weather prevents me from finishing the high raised bed we are working on, then I will top up the low raised beds we made where the garlic was planted last year. With the new dimensions, we might even be able to plant all three varieties in one bed. It’s typically advised to rotate alliums into different beds every year, but in building the low raised beds, the soil has been amended a lot, and they will be topped up with fresh soil, so it should be just fine. We shall see what we have time for.

Meanwhile, we’ve got a couple of days to work on indoor projects, instead. Like the bread baking I can hear my daughter working on as I write this! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: a bit of high raised bed progress

After several days of rain, I was finally able to get a bit more work done on the high raised bed that is being built.

Such slow going!

I was able to cut the four notches to fit the end piece on, but it is not done. I made as many cuts as I could with the baby chain saw, then used the hammer and chisel to take off the excess wood while the batteries charged. Unfortunately, I finished with the chiselling faster than the batteries charged, so when it came time to use the baby chainsaw to do the finishing, I didn’t get very far.

I’ll have to get back at it, later. It’s the notches on the side logs that need to be deepened more.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

Second low raised bed: done!

You can read about the first raised bed I did, here and here. Things were done a bit different this time, so here is another step-by-step post with lots of photos! 🙂 I actually started this bed over a week ago. This is how it looked then.

This bed has been almost completely untouched since the garlic was harvested, letting the weeds get fairly large. This made them easier to pull.

Along with pulling the weeds, with as much of the roots as I could, I lengthened the bed to match the size of the box. Right away, I could tell this one was going to need a “foundation” under the box, too. I was definitely hitting rocks, and a whole lot of roots, while trying to loosen more soil and remove grass and weeds.

Once the weeding and loosening of soil was done, it was left to sit so that any weeds I missed would have a chance to start growing again.

When I started working on it today, the first thing I did was go over the area again, pulling out any new growth by the roots. Then it was time to start shoveling!

Like the previous bed, this one had been originally amended by burying the contents of our compose pile and straw. So I only wanted to remove up to the straw, basically.

In the process, I was finding a LOT more roots! It looks like the cherry trees are encroaching again.

Once I was satisfied with how much of the topsoil I had removed, I raked around the edges to try and level the soil where the box would be resting, as much as possible, while heaping it all in the middle.

Then the box was laid down and, once I had it where I wanted it, I used a sledge hammer to hammer in the supports on either side, at the middle, to prevent the long sides from bowing out when filled with soil. I also hammered down the corners and such, to leave marks in the soil that I could use as guide lines.

The ground wasn’t anywhere near as level as I probably should have made it, but that’s okay. Things will settle and adjust over time, and these boxes can be easily replaced in the future, if need be.

The next step was to raid the pile of old, salvaged boards that the groundhogs have made their den under, and build up a foundation to support the box. Once that was in place, a daughter came out to help me carefully place the box on top of the foundation, and in between the support posts.

Then it was just a matter of shifting the foundation boards a bit, to make sure the box was fully supported. Again, not quite level, but that’s okay.

The soil heaped in the middle was then raked out to the sides, covering the foundation boards and creating more of a recess in the centre.

Then it was time to add the first layer of fill, and raid the branch pile. This time, I added more and larger branches than with the first bed I did.

This, unfortunately, left a lot of gaps and air pockets. They will fill in as the wood decomposes and everything settles and sinks, but that will take time. To help fill in spaces and speed up the decomposition process, I started adding back some of the soil. After returning about a quarter of the soil, I hosed it down thoroughly, so wash it further down into the gaps, then added about another quarter of the soil and soaking it down again.

The next layer was contents from the compost heap, most of which was greenery I’d cleared from around the dead spruce trees that were cut down. This got another soak, another scattering of soil, and yet another soak.

The next layers were grass clippings and shredded paper. This time, after soaking it all down, I walked back and forth over the whole thing, to try and compact and break the buried branches more.

It as at times like this that being a woman of generous proportions comes in handy. 😉

Yet another thin layer of soil was added and soaked down.

Note the gap between the box and the board path. By this point, it had become a bit of a safety hazard! Without the soil to hold them in place, the boards at the edge kept moving and catching on my feet, and I was constantly catching myself to avoid twisting my ankle in the loose and lumpy soil in the gap.

Another thin layer of grass clippings was added and hosed down. At this point, the fill in the new raised bed is about the same level as in the first one. Adding the extra and larger branches made a noticeable difference, even after being tromped down.

Once this was done, it was time to amend the remaining soil on the tarp. I added about half a 40 pound bag of wood pellets, as was done in the first raised bed, and then a couple of wheel barrow loads of new garden soil was brought over; one added to the soil and wood pellets on the tarp, and the other added directly on top of the grass clippings, then raked out as evenly as I could.

It was about this time that a daughter came out with the kitchen compost buckets, so that got added straight into the raised bed and spread out, then hosed down again.

The next while was spent mixing the soil and wood pellets together, as much as I could, before adding it to the bed.

Once the soil was added, it was raked out evenly. This layer was NOT hosed down, though.

One more layer of grass clippings was added as mulch, then it got one last, very thorough, soak with the hose. This was the time to clean up the sides and edges, too.

This is as much as will be done in the bed, this year. Both beds will get more amendments added to them in the spring, after they’ve had a winter to settle and sink.

Also, remember the gap in the path on the other side of the bed?

I was going to work on filling that to make it safe, but I had reached my limit. A daughter will be working on that for me later. As these beds have been worked on, and rocks were found, I had been tossing them next to a nearby stump; you can see it in the background, with some bricks on it. Those can be gathered to use as fill in the large gap on the far side of the bed, and more boards will be added, and whatever else my daughter can thing of to make it safe to walk on. The eventual plan is to cover the board paths with sand and gravel.

After this, there is still the third bed in this location to be made, but with the beets still growing, there is no hurry. The last bed will be just one board high, as that is all the wood of this type we have left, but these boards are slightly wider, plus we still have plenty of the scrap wood bits to use as a foundation, so it shouldn’t be too much of a difference.

Two raised beds down; seven more to go! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Shut off valve installed!

Well, that didn’t take much at all!

With the help of my younger daughter, we got the shut off valve installed on the hot water pipe.

Ha!

Just kidding.

My daughter did all the work. I took pictures and passed her things.

The first thing we needed to do was take off the “clamps” holding the pipe to the exposed floor joists above, on either side of where the pipes were in contact with each other and, I believe, the source of the vibrating noise that is so alarming. The “clamps”, however, were small strips of aluminum, hammered into place with finishing nails. We never did get the nails out. My daughter ended up ripping the aluminum off, instead. !!! While my daughter worked on that, I shut the water off to the hot water tank, then opened the tap to drain the pipe.

One of the things she noticed while trying to remove the aluminum strips is that the hot water pipe was actually bent upwards at this point. No wonder the crossed pipes were so jammed together.

Once there was a bit of flexibility in the pipe, it was easier to access and work on, too.

After deciding where to put the valve, the pipe got scrubbed clean, then the shut off valve was used to place marks on the pipe, so we could see where to cut it, and later see that the pipe ends were far enough inside the valve once installed. Thanks to needing to fix the kitchen sink a while back, we did have a nice little pipe cutter for the job. 🙂

About two inches of pipe was removed, to make room for the valve.

The cut ends then got scrubbed and sanded, inside and out.

Then is was just a matter of sliding it in, and making sure the pipe was as far as it needed to go. The water to the tank was turned back on so we could test it for leaks, then the valve was shut off.

The whole thing took about 10 minutes.

With the valve in place, there is no water to leak at the tap, but if we need to use it for some reason before the tap can be replaced, we can just turn it on, use the tap, then shut it off again. Very handy.

Meanwhile, there is still the issue of the pipes.

For some reason, we have short lengths of pipe foam in the basement. It’s meant for a width of pipe I don’t see around. I put a section on the pipe, under the floor joists the pipe had been clamped to. It was just long enough to go under both.

I didn’t have any foam that was thin enough, so I jammed an old sponge I’d been using before, in between the two pipes that had been in contact, to absorb vibrations. I’d tried to squeeze it in before, but there was no give at all. I could only get it part way under, so it didn’t really stop the noise, though it seemed to make it better.

Now I am just waiting for someone to use the enough water to trigger the well pump, and see if the noise is still there.

We didn’t add a shut off valve to the cold water pipe, yet. For that, we’d need to shut water off to the entire house, and the pipe is behind the hot water pipe, so it will be harder to reach. That can wait until we are putting on the new taps.

I am quite pleased with how this worked out. I keep expecting things to go horribly wrong. 😀

So far, so good!

The Re-Farmer