Friday, April 19, 2013

Putting in my new garden - Part 4

Coming to the finish line on starting the garden.  And trust me, it felt like a race putting it in.

The first thing I did was find a local place to purchase hay and straw. I basically typed in "straw [ZIP code]" into google.  Then I called the two closest ones that came up.  The price was the same, so I picked the closest

I did some calculations to figure out how much hay and straw I'd need.  It was like revisiting high school all over.

To do 4 inches of hay or straw in a 80 square foot garden, I multiplied 1/3 x 80.  [4 inches is 1/3 of a foot....4/12=1/3]  That resulted in 26.6666 cubic feet.  I found information that said there were 7 cubic feet of straw in a bale of hay/straw.  Dividing 26.6666 by 7, I came up with 4 bales of hay and 4 bales of straw.  Just a tip......that is SOOOOO much more than I really needed.  What that number didn't take into account is that hay and straw bales are highly compacted and when you spread them out, it goes so much farther. I really only needed 1 bale.

Just for comedy's sake, here's my minivan after putting in 5 bales of hay and 5 bales of straw (4 of each for me and 1 of each for my best friend who is allergic to hay, so I did the transport).

And here is what my car looked like after they were removed.  It took me 2 hours to vacuum it out....even with covering the back area with a tarp. 1.I spent the rest of the afternoon picking the hay out of my hair and my bra.....lord knows how it got there.

Then I debated about where to get the compost/leaf mulch.  Our county has a free composting program.  Townships drop off their compost material, the county composts it, and it's free to pick up. From what I understand, most counties have something similar.

Doing the math (correctly this time), I wanted 8 inches of compost.....which is 2/3 of a foot deep.....I came up with 80x2/3 = 53 cubic feet.  I looked up how many cubic feet in a cubic yard and came up with 27.  Meaning I'd need 2 cubic yards (53/27=1.975).

To get 2-3 cubic yards of leaf mulch delivered from my township is $60.  To get the quantity I needed for free....using 5-gallon buckets, it would take me 8 trips of 30 minutes of driving time (15 minutes each way).  I decided to go with the $60. I'm all about saving a buck, but the gas for a total of 4 hours of driving time would be comparable to that...if not cost more.  So, I went to see the township, wrote the check and got my delivery date.

Here is the lovely delivered leaf mulch. You can see pieces of my broken down pallet in the background.

So, with the back wall built, and the blocks evened up to create the front wall and sides, we were now ready to go.....FINALLY!!!!!!

We took cardboard boxes that we had pulled from our recycling bin, ripped them into pieces with a box cutter, and laid it down covering the grass.  Then we used rolled newspaper under the edges where the cardboard didn't match up properly so the grass won't grow through. We put the cardboard under the edge of the concrete blocks so that I can use them for planting too.

Then we watered the whole thing to soak the cardboard so it would mat down and compost well.

Next came the hay.  We spread it out to a 4-inch depth....and watered it thoroughly.

After that, the beautiful leaf mulch.....I made my husband shovel, while I wheeled, dumped, and spread.  I filled in the holes in the concrete blocks.

Put down a soaker hose and topped it all off with straw.  And now it's ready to plant!!!!!!!!!

So....what Id I spend?????? $50 for the concrete blocks, $60 for the hay and straw (some of which I am now re-selling to friends at a huge discount....recouping about $30 of that), $60 for the compost/mulch, and $25 for the soaker hose (not a necessity, but sure will make life nice).

Grand total.....$165.  And almost all of that is a one-time expense.

Next year's costs will be almost nothing. The joy of this type of garden is that it's almost maintenance free.  Next year I will use my home-made compost and buy 1 bale of straw (which I will split with someone....lesson learned) for $7.

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