Sunday, 27 March 2011

A working weekend -

Well, right now it's snowing, but yesterday it was sunny though really cold. There was a cold wind blowing, and because I've been having problems with my asthma all week, I didn't want to dig up more heavy, soaken soil. In any case, the soil in my garden box was frozen so I imagine the soil to be dug up was not much different.
But as always there is a lot of work to get done. We have received a gift of stone during the week. When my brother-in-law was living, he worked with excavators, stone, dump trucks and hauling services, etc. My husband is still quite good aquaintences with some of my BIL's old work mates and they are often only happy to help us out once in a while. We've been needing lots of stone to work with, and this is what we received this week.
Concerning my garden. Everything is going well with it despite the fact nothing is really happening at the moment. But it appears that the neighbors are really impressed and my mother-in-law is impressed beyond impression. So all is right with the world at this point of time.
However, my husband has said to me: It is pink, you know.
Me: Is this a problem?
Him: Not in and of itself, but if we're going to do this and make it bigger in the years to come, we should probably be a little bit more professional about it.
(Well okay - he didn't exactly say it like that..... but it was good enough for me as I would much rather do this kind of work than anything else this weekend).

In the meantime, we had told my kids that they had to do 30 minutes of work for us hauling rock to both sides of the cement wall we're working on. They of course thought that this was the absolutely worst thing that could have happened to them. If you closed your eyes and only listened to them, you would have thought that we were the absolute cruelest of parents by all their crying, complaining and screeching at times. They complained that they were tired, had sore arms, sore legs, were sick to their stomachs, etc. My daughter even said she had a broken bone in her foot. However, as always, when the 30 minutes of work was finished (which took 45 minutes because of the rest breaks needed), the sprang off to their friends and were not heard from again for another 2 hours.

The plan for the wall is to put stone on either side and cover it with soil. On the side closest to the road there will be flowers which my daughter intends to plant from seed (or they can be purchased if problems with this arise). On the side closest to the house a small hedge will be planted to help give us some partial privacy.

And here is how my garden looked after the first coat of paint. The same color as the house and the sheds we have.

Very nice indeed, I think.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A Bed of Potatoes???

I have been wanting to make myself a vegetable garden for a long time. But the time was never right - I had kids in diapers, I was focussed on looking for new work, we were preparing to move to a new house, etc, etc, etc.

Now my kids are older, we've been living in our new house for almost 3 years, I'm in a job that I like and things are generally going my way.

I had fully intended to purchase the materials that I needed to make a garden, but as luck would have it my in-laws have moved to a smaller apartment and much of their furniture needed to be replaced. This included the bed. When we heard that they were going to throw out the bed frame, I jumped at the chance to save myself some extra money.

This is the bedframe standing up against the shed.

My husband had left for work at 4 am this morning, but before he left he scraped into the ground where he wanted the garden to be so that it would not interfere with the rest of the landscaping her is working on.

And here at the back of the house we have a tiny little spot of property that is not covered in rock and gravel. The shed you see belongs to our neighbors and is placed right along the edge of the property.
Now, the thing is that this area needs to be dug out and filled with rock and gravel. It has been my job to do this and for 3 years I have not even started on it. In my defense, we had no where to place the soil before now and I was pretty busy with other things anyway. But now the time is right.

I had to admit I wasn't sure how this was going to move forward. I had free reign to use all the material available to me from my husbands tool shed. And like most of my big projects, I prefer to move forward without too much forethought and make adjustments as I need along the way.
Here I was just placing the sections of frame together. Each piece had either industrial screws or screw-holes, so in theory it shouldn't be difficult to put together.

See?? Easy peasy.

I was quite happy that there were no obvious problems thus far, and I looked like I clearly knew what I was doing to those who drove by, honked and waved at me.

I need some re-enforcement pieces of wood to nail into the corners and hubby had said I could use some of his leftovers from when he laid down the floor in the attic a few weeks ago. I found a piece that I thought could be cut into four pieces. It took a while for me to find a saw - but this is no fault of my husband. He is super organized, which is something I really have to work hard at but have been getting better as the years go by. After 10 minutes of looking, I found it hanging in plain view on the back wall of his tool shed. Go figure.

So I cut the piece of wood into four pieces. See that red spot on the upper left piece of wood????
Funny story about that....

Yeah, it's blood. And yeah, I mangaged to cut myself on one finger. Now, I'm not proclaiming that I can saw planks and timber like a professional, but I do proclaim that there's nothing girly about my technique. I've been taught by those who are much better than me and have a good understanding of how to let the saw do the work, take my time, etc.
The problem is that I'm just too cheap. When I came to the last cut to get my last two piece of wood, it wasn't long enough for me to put enough pressure on it with my left hand while sawing with my right. And I just couldn't be bothered to go and get another piece of wood. At this point, I was sawing in quite a girly fashion, hardly putting any pressure on the saw, making short back-and-forth movements and just generally praying that no family member would walk by. Despite this, the saw jumped out of the groove in the wood and landed on my finger.

It was just a tiny cut, but it just wouldn't stop bleeding. Blood in general does not bother my, but it was dripping on the wood, dripping onto the gravel below, onto my clothes - so in the end I was required to be a responsible adult (which is something I try to keep during my working ours, Monday through to Friday) and go in and get a bandaid.

I nailed in the first corner piece of wood. I was so contrated on making sure it was firmly in place on one side of the frame that I forgot to make sure it was also tightly against the second side. Thus there is room for my fingers. Well bugger all, I thought, but after contemplating the dilema for about 15 seconds I decided my husband would no doubt have an ingenious way to fix the problem. Then I made sure I did the other 3 corners properly. I mean, what could go wrong???

And now it was time to lay down newspaper. It was at this time I realized I had another problem. We only get the paper on the weekends. It was Saturday. And the Paper was collected for recycling the previous Monday. So the above was all I had. I began to make friendly visits to my neighbors who are beginning to be quite used to my crazy schemes and usually are willing to help me purely for the entertainment value involved.

As you can see, I've got great neighbors.

Now the really hard work begins. I've done a lot of landscaping at our cabin before. Landscaping itself is never easy, but landscaping on the west coast of Norway by hand has to be some of the worst. Even during dry periods the ground is heavy, dark and saturated with water. But there's not much to do but to just get on with it.

It takes a bit to break through the grass and get started, but once that is done it does start getting a bit easier.

After 4-5 loads of soil it's time for me to stop for a bit. It's 1 pm, I've got iron clothes for my son who's headed to a birthday party, hubby is coming home from work and would like to sleep for a bit, and I've got a long list of things that need to be purchased to make the next week run smoothly. So time to pack up.

After dinner I'm drinking a quick cup of coffee and read on the internet that it's supposed to rain cats and dogs tomorrow, which makes me realize I have to finish everything tonight. Changing back into work cloths and heading out, I see that one of the corners has completely opened up. I have no idea how this happened and it's a surprise to me. After having a little consulting with my husband I'm thrilled to learn that he suggests that I use the power drill and the big, long and thick screws. You can bet my heart starts racing as power tools is something I feel just don't take as much of a center role in my life as they should. The day is looking up.
So after 30 happy minutes of working with power tools (30 minutes that went by all to fast if you ask me), it appears that my garden box is going to be solid. From this point onward it was moving soil as quickly as possible from the ground into the garden. It was heavy work as I was already pretty tired (it's soooooo much easier to run on the elipse machine). Before I knew it, it was dark and cold. I could see my breath rising from me and I was more than ready to go inside, clean up and open a bottle of wine.

This is my newly built hole-in-the-ground. It's a bit hard to see, but it is a good meter and a half deep. (What am I going to do with the rest of this soil???)

And here is as far as I made it on my garden. The soil will settle and I will have to add at least 5 loads more. But this can wait until next weekend.
As for now, I feel it's been a long day, with lots accomplished.