Friday, March 19, 2010

If You Plant It--They Will Come

Eagle Rock Farmer's Market is under way!

Last year I tried to get  a 20 x 30 foot raised bed vegetable garden planted.  I planned to use the back corner of our acre.  It had a water hookup, full sun exposure, and tons of rocks on top of ground cloth.  What do I mean by tons? 6-8" of rock over contractor's landscape cloth.  I hired a former neighbor with his landscaping crew.  Their job was to remove the rocks, cloth, and cement about 15 posts in the ground to attach 6' horse fence and a custom gate that Bob and I would build. 

They arrived in mass one Saturday morning, and before I knew it -- they left one guy with a shovel, my wheelbarrow, and a jug of water.  To this man's credit, he worked like a mule moving wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow load of rock.   By noon, he had cleared it all.  I helped him cut the cloth, which I reused in other places.  He was a native New Mexican, and had lived a pretty colorful life. When I first met him he looked pretty hung over, and it was a hot and sunny day.  But this guy was made of steel and got the job done.  It would be months, instead of days before the crew would return with the posts and cement.

One bright sunny Saturday morning they arrived with posts, cement, and the made of steel man.  I wasn't expecting them...ever.  If one has never lived in a third world country like New Mexico, you can't imagine what "manana" means.  We had missed the deadline to plant out there.  So I skipped the Blade Show and put in 2 beds behind the guest house.  I needed to grow something!  I had to leave that morning as they were unloading bags of cement and posts.  When I came home the crew was gone, and the posts were in.  I took a double take, as half of the posts were severely bent and crooked.  When Alex and Ethan saw the posts both of them agreed that "crack heads put those in."  And so it became my "crack head garden."   Sweet for a Grandma, eh?  :-)

 The two beds from 2009

When John Paul had come over and seen them he said: "I could dig those out in no time, and put straight ones in for you."  At the time I thought he was just being polite.  However he did mention the crack head look of it.  In reality we couldn't hang gates on  the posts, as they would never swing right. I've lived through poorly engineered gates in my farm life.  My inner Martha Stewart was not having any of this, and so for 9 months the crack head posts stayed.  John Paul offered every time he was here.  So spring weather finally came.  And I had a window to right the "crack heads" crooked wrongs  with John Paul's help.  Ami kept offering her help too.

3 8' x 8' raised beds JP built.

I could only carry about 8 8'boards in the Yukon.  They would stretch between the two front seats ALL the way to the back.  I used Jimmy Hodges, my Spiritual Guide's words to guide me: "We're going to move this building across the street. One board, one nail, one brick at a time."  8 boards were 2 beds...and that's how it went.  I had gotten the cement and posts with Bob first.  In hindsight we should have put the posts in last.  And filled all the beds with dirt from a truck (more to come on that) first.  Now, we have to work between the posts...that will be tricky.  John Paul replaced every crack head post with a straight one and a level. Imagine?

My first trip to get my 8 boards was to Lowes, it's the closest to home.  Oh boy that took forever, and the young man who was trying to cut the 16's down to 8's was surly and couldn't operate the saw or a tape measurer.  But I was at his mercy because they didn't have 8's.  He cut the first 3 in just under an hour.  Quick as maple syrup, that was 20 minutes per cut (3).  Then he announced:"the rest of the 16 footers are all warped and cracked, so this is it."  He had no idea who he was dealing with.  "Cut a 12' and I'll eat the 4' difference."  I told him.  He wasn't getting off that easily.   He wasn't going to help me either.  So I shimmied up to the 12'ers and pulled a nice one down.  With chipper bouncy steps I carried the 12' to the saw and placed it in the saw.  Took out the tape measurer and marked 8'.  I backed away pointing to the saw: "Now cut it."  The surly Lowes man did so.  I put it in that goofy open cart with the other pieces.  "Have a lovely evening" I told him.  I heard him growling as I pushed toward the checkout.

 Chicken wire, ground cloth and then raised beds.

John Paul went with me for the second run.  This time we went to Home Depot ("Casa Desperado" I fondly call it).  We were met by a friendly, helpful young man.  Unfortunately he couldn't figure out why when he marked the 16'ers, the cut was in a different place than he had marked.  An inch didn't matter to JP , and he said he'd match 'em up-"nooo problem."  They needed to fit in the car.  It was so nice to have someone with a sense of humor with me.  It made all the difference.  That was half of them.  2 more trips, and a new shipment of 8 footers to Home Depot made the last 16 boards a snap.  If there's ever a next time...they are delivering them.  Duh.

Ami and John Paul: the "American Gothic pose."

All beds built, we shot for a Saturday to put down the rest of the chicken wire and ground cloth.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  Carm surprised us and came by with lunch for "the crew."  She made green chili chicken pasta casserole.  Mmmmmm...we all ate together, and had a great time.  

Columbus begging from Bob.

Now for the dirt...that is turning into a palava.  55 square yards should about do it.  Dirt is my luxury of the year.  It's a good thing tenacity is in my nature.  Because, the guys with trucks and dirt aren't ringing my door bell.  Black dirt is an imported commodity in these parts.  But I have time on my side this year.  There will be dirt...I can see it.  I can also see a beautiful wooden gate and a hand carved bird on each post top. I see Alex designing the drip irrigation.  I see netting over the top to keep the real birds from robbing me as they did last year.  And most of all, I see a bumper crop of every planting.  My vision was to grow enough food for the whole block.  To Jimmy Hodges a debt of gratitude for the mind set a project like this takes.  John Paul, you saw my vision and it is coming to be.  The 'crack heads" made it 20' x 40' , which is bigger than planned, and better to me. 

 Ta flipping Da!

Tomorrow I pick out the fruit trees that will line our front yard (25% off one day only at Osuna). This time they are delivering and planting.  I will line those holes dug with chicken wire also to keep the varmints out.  "They" don't know who they are dealing with.  :-)  I'll keep you posted (haha!) on the progress. Spring is now doing what it does so well.  I have peas planted in the old beds.  It's the first day of spring!

Thanks for reading.  I'm still amazed that you do!



***I woke up early to go pick out trees and there is 1" of snow on the ground and more coming down.
Happy 1st day of Spring!
✭✭As New Mexico would have it...the sun came out, melted all the snow, and I went out and bought 3 apple trees! Yay!

Bob's cape buffalo horns just arrived...hand me my camera.

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