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Had My First Garden Catastrophe

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Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  catbranch on 4/29/2014, 1:37 pm

Okay, I had my first garden catastrophe last night during bad storms with tornadoes skirting all around us. I went out this morning and found that two of my squares on the NW corner, that were already planted, were missing half of their Mel's Mix. 

After inspecting, I realized that even though we had leveled off the land, some settling must have occurred in the past couple of weeks. On that NW end there was a gap between the bottom of the box and the earth that was running along that 4ft end ranging from 1/2" - 1". I do believe the heavy rains and winds washed my MM away through that gap.

Here's what I have done to fix the problem. Hopefully, I have not screwed my whole garden up and hoping you folks can tell me if I did and how to fix it. I had no spare Mel's Mix; however, I did have tons of my already blended 5 ingredient compost left over. I added some of that and some of my Mel's Mix from my box where the squares had not yet been planted into a 5 gal bucket and mixed it up as best as I could. Gently lifted up my tomato plant (planted lay down method) along its length and filled in underneath with my not quite perfect MM. Used the rest to fill in around it and fill in the square that had my lettuce in it. 

I had noticed yesterday before the storms that I had two little lettuce sprouts coming up in one hole in another square. So instead of snipping it off, I eased it out of it's spot and transplanted it to the 1/2 newly filled square. I'm hoping that it and especially my tomato plant did not receive enough root damage to keep it from growing, but if so, I'll just plant new ones.

After all that, I still had the initial problem, the gap, that caused this mini catastrophe. Not knowing what to really do about it and expecting more storms to come through this afternoon, I ended up doing the only thing that popped in my mind at the time. I filled several buckets full of the soil that was removed from that spot when we leveled the area. I packed it in all along that outside edge of the box, stomped on it and then repeated the process. It still could stand more, but I'm hoping it will be enough to keep my garden safe through the storms today and until I can have my husband help this weekend.

So to recap my concerns/questions mixed in the mess above:

1. Do you think my Mel's Mix is all wonky now? If so, what should I do to fix it since most of the bed has been planted?

2. Is there a better solution to fixing my gap than packing in more dirt?

Sorry for the lengthy post, and I sincerely appreciate any help or advice any of you may have. Oh and the answer is yes to anyone who may be wondering.. I cried like a baby.  Sad 

Cathy

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/29/2014, 2:12 pm

Ugh!  Yeah, know about that settling issue.  I ended up using a stick to push soil under a couple of boxes to balance them out.

No, your MM should be fine.  In areas that don't have access to peat & vermiculite, Mel tells them to use straight compost.

I can't think of a better way to solve the settling problem.  Maybe someone else will have an idea.

Be safe!

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  catbranch on 4/29/2014, 2:15 pm

Thank you Marie! Ya'll stay safe too.. more storms are coming through today!

Cathy

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  TxGramma on 4/29/2014, 2:16 pm

No your MM is not all wonky. What you did is fine. Once your beds are filled and you replant squares all you do is add compost to the square anyway not more MM which is basically what you just did.

Mounding dirt around the outside of your box should keep it from washing away again but if you need something more permanent you could add a board to the outside lower edge of the box where the gap is or place some bricks or cement blocks up against it.

Glad you didn't have any more damage than that and hopefully you will be as fortunate with the next round of storms.

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  jimmy cee on 4/29/2014, 2:19 pm

If I was in your situation I would fill it with compost, it should find it's own level unless there's a  mine underneath

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  catbranch on 4/29/2014, 2:36 pm

Thank you TxGramma! I appreciate the advice. If the packing dirt around it doesn't work, I think I might use your idea of the concrete blocks. That way I can fill the holes in with some MM and have some little mini planting spots! Oh my gosh I'm obsessed!

jimmy cee, jimmy cee, jimmy cee.. let me introduce myself to you. I am one of the MOST paranoid people on the face of the earth. Now I'm going to thinking I'm living over a mine.. which in this former coal mining area is not that much a stretch of the imagination! Seriously though, thank you for the advice and here's hoping I don't end up in a sink hole or something!  Razz

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  sanderson on 4/29/2014, 2:41 pm

Catbranch, I think you did a good job. You added compost to the tomato square and shored up the outside with a temporary dirt dam.

I know the photos in ANSFG show the weed fabric underneath the box. That was one thing I did differently for all of the boxes. I put it on the inside. I would recommend that all new boxes have oversized weed fabric on the inside, going up the inside wall at least 2-3". That way if the native dirt settles, the MM will still be contained. I have some boxes that have up to 1" gaps under the wood frames on one side or another, but none of the MM has been lost. I don't think I can permanently keep dirt under all the wood edges due to the native dirt settling and the basic design of the backyard.

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  quiltbea on 4/29/2014, 3:16 pm

catbranch.....It sounds like you did right.  Tomato plants are very tough little critters so getting back to it right away should keep it safe and growing.  Good luck,

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  catbranch on 4/29/2014, 3:28 pm

Thank you sanderson! It is making me feel so much better to know that my first thoughts on how to handle the situation are on par with all of you who have been doing this so much longer than my paltry 2 weeks. 

I agree with you completely on the oversized weed fabric inside the box. While I was staring down at the spot where my MM once was, I actually thought about that and how it would have prevented the problem. What can I say.. hindsight and all that. I know for a fact all future boxes will have it.

Thank you too quiltbea! Ya'll are making me feel so much better!

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  yolos on 4/29/2014, 3:34 pm

I had that same problem on the first box I built.  I just found a piece of lumber that was the same thickness as the opening and tapped it in along the side.  I used a 1"x 2" board cut to the length of the opening and just wedged it right under the frame.  Can't even tell it is there.  It you have a bigger gap, try a 2" by 2" piece of lumber cut to the proper length of the opening.

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  tagyourit on 4/29/2014, 4:16 pm

I agree with the others that the compost should be fine.   I do what Sanderson does and use oversized weed fabric and it hold everything in well.    I hope your plants recover from the storms!

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  catbranch on 4/29/2014, 5:55 pm

Thank you tag!

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  plantoid on 4/29/2014, 6:37 pm

Garden Catastrophe  that's not a catastrophe ......

That's experience.  Wink 

I bet you make sure that the side walls go down to the earth in future on any inclining ground that you sit them on .

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  rabbithutch on 4/29/2014, 9:12 pm

Sounds like another argument FOR table tops.  Mine are covered across the bottom with 1/2" hardware cloth with wood slates 1-1/2" x 3/4" on 12" centers across the width and length.  The insides are lined with landscape fabric that comes up the sides about 4-5" and stapled snugly and folded at the corners.  If I lose MM its going to be because we get so much rain that it washed the MM out of the box, not through it.  That is highly unlikely here in central Texas.  As you can see in my signature line our average annual rainfall is less than 35 inches and the largest rainfall in 24 hours I can recall here in the last 18 years is about 4".  If I should see the boxes overflowing I think I could punch holes in the landscape fabric and provide a release if need be.

Very sorry to hear about the storm damage and very glad to hear that you were not affected by the tornadoes.  I've seen the aftermath of an F5 in Jarrell, TX, and it was unbelievable.

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/29/2014, 11:11 pm

sanderson has a good idea. I recently made a box the same way, stapling the hardware wire and also the weed fabric up inside the box. People use hardware wire plus weed cloth even on the bottoms of tabletop boxes, and it's strong enough so they don't need real bottoms, just a support board roughly every foot(or maybe a little less, some here have suggested). So that's strong! Maybe it does you no good to hear that now, but it's something to consider for your next box. Like plantoid says,consider it experience! And try to benefit from that experience next box you build.

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  catbranch on 4/30/2014, 12:03 am

yolos.. not sure how I missed your post, but I did. Excellent advice on the strips of wood. My husband is going to work on all the little gap areas this weekend. I will definitely pass along your advice.

plantoid.. how very correct you are! I have learned several things from this experience and all future beds will definitely benefit because of it.

rabbithutch.. I would have wept with joy had my raised bed been turned into a tabletop before my eyes while I was bending over for hours today. My back is still aching!! Thank you for your words about the storms and you are absolutely right. I can practically look out my front door and still see the aftermath of our 04/27/2011 tornado. It's devastating, horrifying and takes years to recover from. Just horrible.

Marc.. Absolutely! I'm not sure yet which method will be used on "enclosing" future beds, but something will definitely be implemented! No doubts there at all!

Cathy

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  Kelejan on 4/30/2014, 1:38 am

catbranch, I did not know you had been through that 2011 tornado.  I should imagine having been through one you dread it happening again.  We hear about tornados, floods, earthquakes, mudslides etc as they happen, but seldom ever hear about followups, how people recover, if ever. They are in the news for a few days or weeks, then fade as they are taken over by the latest tragedy. That is the curse of 24/7 instanly available news.  It is hard to remember that for most of history everyone only knew what happened in their own little area. I think that now we have a built-in anxiety factor because we know what everyone in the world is suffering.

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/30/2014, 8:53 am

Cat, what we did was staple newspaper & corrugated cardboard boxes between 2 layers of weed fabric.  Then we nailed it onto the bottom of the planter boxes w/ galvanized nails (so they'll last longer).

Since my boxes are only 2' wide, I didn't have to do a lot of cutting on the weed cloth.  Just the ends.  (These next boxes will be 4' wide, so it'll be 2 full-width layers.)









So far it seems to be working.  But, again, I had to shove some dirt under boxes that weren't balanced all the way around.

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/30/2014, 7:52 pm

@Kelejan wrote:catbranch, I did not know you had been through that 2011 tornado.  I should imagine having been through one you dread it happening again.  We hear about tornados, floods, earthquakes, mudslides etc as they happen, but seldom ever hear about followups, how people recover, if ever. They are in the news for a few days or weeks, then fade as they are taken over by the latest tragedy. That is the curse of 24/7 instanly available news.  It is hard to remember that for most of history everyone only knew what happened in their own little area. I think that now we have a built-in anxiety factor because we know what everyone in the world is suffering.

That's the worst thing about the news. There's never any follow-up. So you never get a chance to put stories in context or to develop and follow through on a story or an abiding interest. All you get is the surface sensationalism and yer outta there, without a clue but still under the impression you learned something. Turning to the news for much of anything leaves us floating in a permanent present with no sense of history or the future.



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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  rabbithutch on 5/1/2014, 1:20 pm

@Marc Iverson wrote:That's the worst thing about the news. There's never any follow-up. So you never get a chance to put stories in context or to develop and follow through on a story or an abiding interest. All you get is the surface sensationalism and yer outta there, without a clue but still under the impression you learned something. Turning to the news for much of anything leaves us floating in a permanent present with no sense of history or the future.

I've thought a lot about that lately while trying to put current events into some kind of perspective.  I offer this for comment and to encourage you to share your thoughts.

I'm about to be 72 years old.  My dad was born in the 1890s; my mom, just after the turn of the century.  All 3 of my grandparents were born before the US Civil War; the other in the late 1870's.  I only knew 2 of my grandparents, and that was before I reached my 5th birthday; but I knew countless people who were born long before the automobile, airplane, radio, telephone . . .   to say nothing of TV and now the Internet and email.  I am convinced that my grandparents would have thought that cell phones with cameras that take instant, high quality pictures that can be sent around the world in mere seconds were the work of the devil.

The church bell and city hall bells were the communications devices that had the greatest immediate range to inform an area.  The mail was available but incredibly slow by our standards.  In the area of the Appalachians that my dad's family lived in the 19th Century, even the mail was not always reliable.  Horses, mules, ox carts, and shanks mare over what we would scarcely believe could be called roads were the means of transport.  Even that was mostly for shipping produce out and hard goods in.  Trips of great distance were not uncommon, but they took exceedingly long times to complete.  From their area, it was a considerable trip just to reach a rail head in those days.

The principle means of communications was conversation with family, friends, neighbors, church congregations, and strangers traveling through or to their area on business.  It was an era when courtesy was not just 'nice' but an essential ingredient in interpersonal relationships.  Any in the community who were not courteous were thought to hold a low opinion of themselves and, by inference, could therefore hold no good opinion about anyone else.  (I cannot recount the number of times I was told that by people who came to adulthood in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.)

Strangers - if courteous and not slovenly - were, perhaps, the most welcome of all guests because they brought news of outside happenings and conditions.  Plus, in those days the art of storytelling, reciting verse, public readings, and singing were far more advanced than is the case today.  Those lost things are much lamented by anyone who has any experience of them.

Another factor of that period - removed from me by just a single generation, that of my parents - is that populations were relatively unchanged over many years.  Today, I think the statistic is that one in five families will relocate over a hundred miles every 5 years.  That was not impossible, as the western migration proves, but it happened much more slowly and for greatly different reasons.  Those migrations were usually in groups, of people sharing the same social values and ethics.

So . . .   to sit here typing on an electronic device and communicating to people all over the world on a daily basis is an activity that could scarcely be comprehended by my grandparents and most of the people among whom I grew up.  I shall always wonder what my great-grandparents would have thought of electric lights almost overwhelming the darkness of night.  My comprehension of their world is much easier, but still not complete by any means.

I often wonder which is better, but then I reflect on the many great advances in  technology, education, and communication that bring enrichment to daily life.  But I also look fondly at the greater connection with community and the value of story telling and verse and regret their passing.

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  catbranch on 5/1/2014, 2:12 pm

rabbithutch,

I've been doing a lot of genealogy research lately regarding my great-grandparents and beyond and their move from Ireland to the United States. I would give anything to have my grandmother back and pay better attention to the many stories she told me about her life and her parents' lives. I do have some old diaries and letters that belonged to my great-grandmother and the differences between then and now are just astounding to me.  

I don't know why the differences shock me so much, because I see the same type of differences just between my younger years and my children's. Now you call your kids on a cell phone or text them to let them know it's time to come home; whereas, when I was young you knew to go in when the street lights came on or my mom would just yell from the porch or I listened for the distinct tone and sound of my father's whistle, which was easily discernible from that of my friends' father's whistle. Same for them. To this day, I can hear my dad's whistle and know to turn looking for him, knowing that he is in the crowd and trying to get my attention.

I think there is much to be said for modern technology and would have a hard time living without it now that I have it, but I do sorely miss the simplicity of life from when I was younger and the natural bonding that comes from face to face correspondences. I regret that my children will never know some of the carefree pleasures that go hand in hand with a simpler time.

Rabbithutch, I truly LOVED reading about your memories of the past. It was a beautiful glimpse inside your mind and a pleasure to read. Thank you.

Cathy

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Re: Had My First Garden Catastrophe

Post  sanderson on 5/2/2014, 12:57 am

RH, Eloquent.

Cathy, I wish I had talked and listened to my maternal grandmother more. I inherited letters and documents that my Mother had saved from GM's hope chest. I've read some and must read all the rest.

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