Make Do and Do Without
The garden is coming along slowly but surely. Each weekend is spent improving and planning, each week spent working at the farm. Since there is lots of wildlife around here, I knew I wanted a fence around the garden, but I needed to do it as cheaply as possible. Brian and I spent about an hour wandering through Lowe’s (we have a gift card) looking at fencing and finally decided on a welded wire garden fence sold in 50 foot increments, it looked to be good enough – as the next step up was a wrapped wire cattle fence with over 300 feet. We brought it home and set out to the bamboo forest hiding in our woods to harvest some fence posts.
Since the bamboo is so tall, we only needed to cut about four down to have enough for our fence posts. Hauling them back to the house was a task, but so worth harvesting and moving for free, beautiful posts!
We borrowed some post-hole diggers and dug around 18″ deep for each post, in the clay soil they are remarkably sturdy.
After all the posts were in the ground, we started unrolling our fencing and securing it to the bamboo by hammering. The bamboo split in some places, but never enough to make them unusable. We constructed a makeshift come-along with some cam straps, a slender piece of bamboo, and Brian’s Jeep. It worked very well and allowed us to pull the fence tight… a little too tight actually.
We realized (on about the fourth post) that the fencing we had bought in order to save money would not work. The welded wire was coming undone just by us pulling the fence tight and our hopes of saving the fence for future years was gone. We pulled out the nails for the four posts, rolled the wire back up, and drove back to the store to buy the cattle fence.
While the cattle fence was three times more fencing than we needed and about twice as expensive, it is much more sturdy and will last much longer. Also, with so much fencing, we were able to add-on for a large pen for Rosa to play in while we are away.
We finally finished our fence (some of it was done at night-time with headlamps) but it was finished just in time!
While it is not perfect, it was cheap and it is functional. We did it without the usual fence posts, a proper come-along, or any extra hands, and we are proud of it.
Brian is especially proud of these awesome nails he bought at an estate sale recently. We love estate sales. Seriously.
Rosa also gives her silent approval.
With the fence built, the only thing I had left to do before planting is adding organic matter to my beds. The soil I’m planting in is mostly clay, and has very little organic matter, so any I can add will be of great benefit. Since I am trying to make do or do without, I started thinking about free organic matter sources. Of course you can compost and add that to your garden, but our compost pile is only a few months old. What organic matter source is much older, much richer, full of healthy microbes? The top few inches of soil in the woods! I walked around our land and found an area where it looks like wood used to be chopped. There are little bits of wood shavings all over the ground (which the fungi love to eat!) and there are very few plants growing since there are some large trees shading most of the area. It was the perfect site to collect organic matter. The soil had a small layer of leaf litter and then around 3 inches of dark, rich soil. You can see the mycelium in it and how rich and healthy it looks. When I returned with a bucketful of it Brian said, “Did you rob a Miracle Gro factory?!”
I dumped two bucketfuls on each bed and Brian slightly hoed them in. They say there are about 50 million microbes in one tablespoon of soil, so hopefully now the microbes will start multiplying and spread throughout my beds! I encourage you to go harvest some free organic matter to add to your garden beds! Just look at how excited it made me.
P.S. I asked Brian if I was a nerd because I wanted my picture with some awesome organic matter. He said, “Yes, a nerd who blogs.”