I put together images of the wattle woven raised bed and made a video out of it. This time, I borrowed my daughter’s microphone for the narration, and WOW was it better! I didn’t have to use background music to camouflage the background noises my headset microphone always made.
Something got glitchy when I saved it. I had to save it several times to get rid of some strange coloured stripes that showed up. They were only visible after I saved the file and checked it, never in the editing software. I uploaded the video, only to find the glitch had simply moved to the very beginning of the video. I had to re-save it and re-upload it, and I think this one worked.
I was going to post progress pictures, but I need to conserve storage space on WordPress until I go back and resize more old photos. I might do a start-to-finish photo video, instead. Until then, here it is! The L shaped wattle weave bed in the old kitchen garden is DONE!!
The insides of the woven walls were first lined with grass clippings. It turned out to be a very windy day, which made that job more challenging then it should have been!
Next, I used a hoe to make a trench down the middle, pushing the soil up against the grass clippings. The cardboard from the sun room I’d set aside for the burn barrel came in handy, as it was suitable for lining the bottom of the trench. With the bed being so narrow, the size of the boxes didn’t matter as much, since I had to cut them to fit, anyhow. The cardboard then got a soaking.
Next came a layer of corn stalks reserved from the garden clean up, which got a soaking. I raided the compost pile of half rotted kitchen scraps to put on top of the corn stalks, followed by a soaking. Then I raked some leaves off the grass nearby and added that on top, which then got a soaking. At this point, I climbed in and walked back and forth over it, to crush the organic materials. Whatever we decide to plant here next year, I don’t want the roots to be finding big gaps in the soil and drying out.
Finally, I headed out and uncovered the pile of garden soil we bought a couple of years ago. The cover kept the pile from washing away, but didn’t keep the light out, so the pile was covered with a matt of weeds!
I also realized the “tarp” I’d found to cover the pile had channels in it. We’d noticed them when we first dug it out, but only recently did I find the carport support peaces my brother said was in the hay loft. Some time after that, I’d dug out a tarp I thought we might be able to use to cover the hole in a shed roof, but when I unrolled it, I saw it was part of the carport. I figured it was a roof sheet or something, since it isn’t that big. Now I realize that this piece was part of it, too. So I dragged it off and lay it out on the lawn, with weights to keep it from blowing away. We’ll hose it down and see what we can do with it. The first sheet I’d found had a row of tears in it. This one does not.
I’ll have to find something else to cover the garden soil pile with.
It took 4 1/2 wheelbarrow loads of sifted soil (to get as many weed roots out as I could!) to cover the whole thing. In the process, I had to stuff more grass clippings higher up the wattles, so the soil wouldn’t fall through the gaps.
No, this time I did NOT give it a soaking! I didn’t want to compact the soil.
By this time, several hours had passed, so I took a break for a lunch the girls prepared for me, then it was back to work. There was a little bit of grass clippings left, so that got scattered over the soil – at least what the wind didn’t blow away while I was trying to spread it evenly! I then raked up and added a mulch of leaves. That did get a soaking, to keep the wind from blowing it away. Finally, I grabbed the wagon and filled it with as much wood chips as it would hold without spilling as I pulled it back. It turned out to be just barely enough to cover the entire bed with a thin layer.
Once that was done, the entire bed got a very thorough soaking. I wanted all the layers to be good and damp. I might even soak it a couple more times, before our highs start dropping below freezing. We hit a high of 18C/64F today (though with that wind, it didn’t feel like it!), but tomorrow our high is expected to be only 6C/43F, and that’s the warmest day we’ve got left. We are expected to have less than a week with highs above freezing. Which isn’t too bad, for November.
Anyhow. The more the bed gets moistened before things start to freeze, the better it will be for spring. With all the layers, the bed got filled to the top of the shortest walls. My intention was to have it a bit lower, and that will happen as the layers settle and the organic matter decomposes. I expect it to drop at least a couple of inches over time.
While working on this bed, I spent a lot of time going over and around the rectangular bed we’d planted beets in. Once the L shaped bed was done, I decided to work on that one, too. It is framed with logs, and I’d like to raise it a bit higher. This is how it looked, at the start.
The first year we had a bed in this space, it was a sort of triangle shape that was too wide at the end near the house. My daughter and I changed the shape of it, then grabbed some pieces of smaller dead spruces that had been cleaned up, to frame it on three sides and keep the soil in place. We planted carrots here last year, which the groundhogs decimated repeatedly. Amazingly, we still got a crop out of it. This year, we planted beets, which failed. Sort of. I’ll talk about that in a separate post!
There is a pink rosebush on the left, and this year – after pruning away more branches from the ornamental apple trees – it finally had substantial growth and huge numbers of flowers.
It’s amazing what a little sunlight will do!
This year, when we covered the rectangular bed, I had a board across the end by the rose bush to hold the mesh down, but otherwise, there’s nothing there. The ground slopes downwards from the house, so that end is lower than the end closer to the house.
That will be built up.
The first thing I did was dig a shallow trench across the bed near the rose bush. I still had some short logs I’d brought over for tiny log bed and border that didn’t get used (you can read about that here, here and here. Links will open in new tabs, so you don’t lose your place. 😊) I placed one of the shorter logs across, in the trench. Then I pounded in three stakes at each corner, to create upright supports. When I find logs long enough, they will be placed between the stakes. I want the long sides to go on top of the cross piece closer to the house, with a second cross piece to fit in between them, but have it the opposite way on the low side. One of the current side logs is a fair bit shorter than the other, but I think I find find something to fill the gap.
Though I plan to make the bed only one log higher, with the rose bush getting so big, the wall beside it is probably going to be three or four logs high to keep the branches out of the garden bed. I forgot to take a picture, but I’ve already added another log to that end. It’s slightly longer than the one in the photo, so that it is overlapping the longer side log. When I find a gap filling piece for the bottom, it will be tucked under that second log. The second log isn’t as thick as the bottom one, so I tied off the pair of uprights on either side of the ends, to secure them, and will do the same with each log that gets added. I made sure those pairs of upright supports where the tallest and strongest, since they’ll be holding the most logs.
And that was enough for today! I need to go hunting for long enough logs for those sides. If I can’t find any that are suitable, we might add more of those support stakes and use shorter logs instead. We have plenty of short ones that couldn’t be chipped, that were cut to roughly four foot lengths. The bed, however, is about nine feet long, so that might not work. We’ll see.
That done, I had time to work on emptying the rain barrel, which had enough water still in it to do the Korean Pine and Ash tree seedlings in the outer yard, as well as the haskaps and a currant bush in the south yards. So that’s now empty and ready for winter. Usually, I tuck it away in the old kitchen garden for the winter, but I think this time I’ll leave it where it is. It’ll get snow in it, which should be fine. I just don’t want to be chipping it out of the ice and snow again, to set it up to catch the snow melting off the roof in the spring.
While I was doing all this, I had the attention of so many yard cats! Even the ones that don’t like people, like to hang around while I work.
While I was putting things away for the night, I spotted this…
He was napping in the wheelbarrow at first, but I interrupted him while taking a picture. 😊
What a handsome boy! We have managed to pet him every now and then, but he isn’t a fan of attention.
I did get to give the bitty baby a cuddle, though! He came out to explore, and after several attempts, I was able to cat him. He put up quite a fight until I got him into snuggle position and started scritching his ears and he finally calmed down. I hung on to him for quite a while before putting him down, and he didn’t run away. Hopefully, he will become more accepting of cuddles as time goes by. We’ve had others that became less accepting of cuddles and attention over time. Ah, well. We do what we can!
I went and borrowed my husband’s phone to take a picture. It’s my old phone, but of course he’s set it up to how he wants it – which turns out to include fingerprint scan to unlock it. I really hate that function. I find they don’t scan fingerprints well, and the last thing I’d want is to get locked out of my own phone because the thing can’t recognize my fingerprint. It could well be because my hands are so rough, it messes up my fingerprints. Either way, it looks like I won’t be borrowing his phone when I got into the city after all. It’s changed so much, I had to get him to tell me where the camera icon was! He does love his funky themes and designs. 😁
Here it is!
I had enough long poles that I could do the back without having to overlap any. The only problem came when it was time to do just the taller posts. It wasn’t too bad when I was weaving around seven of them, but when it came to just the three at the turn, it was more difficult. I had the shorter pieces for it, but three poles just isn’t really enough to hold the wattles in place, though for some of them, I could push the more flexible tips into the previous wattles to lock them down.
There was lots left over when the inside of the L shape was done, and I wanted to use them while they were still green and flexible, so I went ahead and did the outside. The first thing that needed to be done was to hoe the soil out of the path and back into the bed, while also clearing and leveling where I estimated the uprights would go. Once that was done, I measured two feet from that long pole right in the corner, marking three places; the left and right are lined up with the back walls, while the center one is in the middle.
Knowing I would be working with much thicker poles, I spaced the uprights further apart along the sides, compared to the previous ones. That left me with four extra prepared posts. After using the pencil point bar and a sledge hammer to make holes for the posts, then sledge hammering the posts in place, I could see I wouldn’t be able to use the uprights at the ends, so I added another post at each end, just inside the posts supporting the end wattles.
When it came time to weave the wattles in, I used the longest poles first, with the thickest parts at the ends, so that the more flexible tops would go around the curve. Some of the posts were long enough to actually bend all the way around the curve! When I put in the second side, I was able to wrap the ends around the wattle in the first side. I was able to do this for the first several layers before I found myself having to weave a shorter third pole around the curve. Unfortunately, a few of the poles just couldn’t go around the curve without breaking.
With the more flexible ends going around the curve, this meant the ends built up higher, faster. Which I’m okay with. For the last few pieces, they weren’t long enough to go around the curve at all.
I will need more material to build up the curve, but I also want to build that corner higher, too. So what I need to look for now is a lot of thinner and flexible, pieces. If I can find enough of them, I might be able to not only build up the corner and the curve, but wrap a nice edging along the top, all the way around.
Finding appropriate materials to do this was surprisingly difficult, but I’m really happy with how it’s turning out. By the time this is finished, though, we probably won’t be able to accumulate enough materials to do it again anytime soon, except perhaps for some very small beds.
Once the walls are done, we can add amendments and more soil to this bed to build it up, and it will be MUCH easier on the back to work in it.
After finishing up my morning rounds, I did as much as I could with the wattle fence, using what materials we had been able to gather. There wasn’t much I could do with the longer sections. With the shorter part of the L shape, I was able to use a few single lengths, but even there I had to start combining them in pairs.
The girls had gathered some really nice, even pieces of maple suckers, though, and they were the perfect length for the wider end bit.
The red barked lengths are the maple the girls had gathered. When I used those up, I went to the pile of small willow branches I’d set aside and brought over the pieces that were close in size to the maple. Those are the greenish coloured branches. Last of all, I topped it with two thicker pieces of maple that I’d pruned from the nearby maples that are now clear of the branch piles. Those are are lot tighter, and will lock everything in place. I didn’t trim the top one to size yet, as I might need to move it out while the other section of wall is worked on. However, as it is now, that is as high as I intend to go for most of the bed.
It would be great if the whole thing could have been done like this! It looks so much prettier, with smaller gaps and more consistent sizes. The only down side is that such small pieces will also break down faster than the larger ones. It will likely still take a few years, but it’s something to be aware of.
I used more of the maple suckers I had gathered at this end, along with more willow that was left, and locked it down at the top with two thicker pieces of maple.
This corner looks a mess right now! It will be built up, end to end, until they are the same height as the walls at the ends. After that, it will be build up higher to match the heights of the debarked posts. By time I’m working on just the three tallest posts, I’ll be working with much shorter pieces, and should be able to tidy up the whole thing a lot more. Right now, it’s looking quite the mess!
That piece of 2×4 is my mallet.
At this point, I am out of useable materials. I think I will go hunting around the spruce grove for more material, before I start wandering father afield. The Red Osier Dogwood that we have would make excellent, flexible pieces, but that’s something I’m trying to encourage as undergrowth. I might still be able to harvest some, though. There might even be some young poplar I can harvest. Mostly, I just want to find enough material to finish this back wall. The remaining sections can wait until spring, if we have to. Once the back wall is done, the soil that has eroded into the paths can be hoed back into the bed and tidied up. I will likely use grass clippings that we still have all along the bottom of the wattle wall to keep the soil from falling into the gaps. Slowly, this bed will be built up to the height of the lowest sections of wattle, which will make growing in it MUCH easier on the back!
That’s about all I’ll be able to get done today, though. We’ve had another change in plans, with company coming tomorrow. We’re hoping to be able to have a bonfire with the remains of the big branch pile that got chipped, but it will depend on the weather. The forecasts keep changing. Just in case, we need to be prepared to move indoors, so we’re going to have to start moving things like our canning supplies back into storage, and all that other stuff that just sort of takes over every flat surface! We’ll need to be able to expand the dining table, too, which will take up twice the space.
We are terrible house keepers. 😂
But I’m really looking forward to seeing my BIL and his family, and really appreciate that they are willing to make the long drive out here, knowing that my husband can no longer go to their place. It’s going to be awesome!
Since I wanted to keep an eye on the kitties anyway, I decided to see what I could do with the willow branches. After sorting the longest ones out, I started weaving.
This is all of the branches I have so far.
Minus one that was too bent to use. At least here. When we’re ready to weave the ends, we only need pieces less than 3 feet long, so I could probably salvage it.
As we get more branches to weave in, they’ll get pounded as low as we can, with each layer added keeping everything below in place. Right now, some of them just sort of pop back up a bit after they’ve been pushed down. Until it’s all tighter together, it won’t be holding much soil in place! One more layer along the short wall, and I think we can get away with no longer debarking the branches.
I really hope those maple posts that still have their bark won’t start growing.
I’m just itching to get back out there and cut more willow branches for this, but the weather out there really sucks.
I want to keep an eye on the bitty kitties, though, so maybe…
(glances out the window and tries to convince myself the wind isn’t that bad, and it’s not that cold out…)