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Friday, January 29, 2010

A Little Progress, and a Discovery

Yesterday, I got most of what I want off the deck pried up.  It was roughly half of the deck, which I discovered wasn't 24X24- it was more like 18X18, but still too large.  There is a lot of river rock as ballast under the deck, which is a double-edged sword, as I wrote before. Great for reuse, but a pain to get up, and it needs to come up.  I still need to mark the edge of the deck on the stringers and the perpendicular boards at the ends, take up the last piece of decking and cut all the stringers a stringer's width in from the outside edge and then nail up an end stringer pieced together from the cut stringers.  Before I can even make the cuts, though, I need to move the piers underneath the ends to where the new ends will be, which is going to be a chore. A hellish chore. There are fifteen stringers. Once the stringers and perpendicular decking are cut, and the new end stringer is on, I can reinstall the last piece of decking and put up the fascia board and then I'll be done with the deck.

I realize while looking at it now, even in its half-demolished state, that less deck will make the yard look bigger, which in fact it will be, because I'm gaining the square footage that I wanted to use for the kitchen garden beds. Those are to be raised beds made from the decking pieces that I removed. I mentioned that the deck was made from a product called 'Eon', which I gather from internet searches is no longer being used for decking. Evidently, it cracks in extreme weather, and stains pretty badly, although we've not had either of these issues come up.  People also complained that it creaks, which it does, especially when expanding and contracting in fluctuating temperatures, and that static builds up on it, to which I can also attest, having zapped myself mightily reaching for the sliding glass door handle on several occasions after walking across the deck.  Eon is not a composite, but is made completely of plastic, or so I read, so you can understand my wish to reuse it, aside from it being the logical thing to do money-wise.  It would be an awful lot of plastic to throw in the landfill. Talk about your linear product cycle. Anyway, I'll make the best of what I've got here.

One of the things that I discovered yesterday was that part of the deck is covering a concrete patio, which is bad news indeed.  I'd hoped to cut a hole in the deck somewhere in between the sliding glass doors and sink a pier and post for the arbor. Now I can't do that because of the patio.  I need to do some research to find out if I can hang the cross pieces of the arbor from the eaves of the house.  If not, then I'm not at all sure what we're going to do about the arbor, because the deck is eighteen feet long and that's too long a span to not have some sort of support.  So even though it feels like two steps forward, and one step back, I still have my net one step forward, which is still in the right direction.

You may be wondering why with all that yard left, I would be worried about using the newly claimed space for the kitchen garden.  My plan for the 16X8 foot space beyond the kitchen garden bed is to make it for the canning vegetables and three sisters, i.e., tomatoes, and corn, beans, and pie pumpkins.  And by canning, I mean freezing, too. I'm not a big fan of either canned corn or canned beans, but I like them frozen just fine.  Beyond that space, I have a 575 square foot space earmarked for growing grains.

Years ago, I ran across an out of print book at the Beaverton public library called Small Scale Grain Raising, by Gene Lodgson of The Contrary Farmer fame (another good read).  I liked Small Scale Grain Raising so well that I wanted to buy a copy, which is when I found out that it was out of print.  Amazon had a seller with a used copy for seventy bucks.   So then I contemplated 'losing' the library's copy.  Then my inner angel wrested control of me back from my inner devil, and suggested a compromise, which was to photocopy everything I needed from it, which I did.  I'm glad to say that a second edition is now out, which was published in May of 2009, and I got one for less than twenty dollars from good  ol'  Anyway, as I said, I'd like to try my hand at raising some wheat. I have to build the soil up there first, and then try it. I'm also aware that I won't be able to use that same space for grain every year because you need to rotate soybeans in for their nitrogen-fixing effects.  I have no interest in soybeans, so I'll probably just cover crop it in white or yellow clover, which is good bee fodder, and probably things like comfrey and stinging nettles, which are great fertilizer-makers for your compost pile, and then turn chickens out on it to free-range in a chicken tractor. That's if I do chickens- the jury is still out on that one. Don't want to bite off more than I can chew, and I have quite the mouthful already.


Cottage Garden said...

Your plans sound great Paula and you've been so busy! I've just been looking back at your previous post on the old decking and I have to agree it is very large and just a tad ugly! I look forward to seeing the new improved version.

I loved the picture of the arbour clad in lemons - stunning!

Have a great weekend. Jeanne

Toni aka irishlas said...

My word, where do you get your energy! Can't wait to see your finished project.
It's hard not to want to do it all at once. Kudos for your ability to use common sense. I'm getting better at this common sense thing, but, I don't think I'm there yet!

Diane said...

I hope you follow comments on old posts as I just discovered your blog. I think the soy rotation may be a farmer thing and you could probably use a more palatable bean in rotation with grains as they all, along with peas, fix nitrogen.

Paula said...

I do when blogger notifies me there's a new comment. Soybeans are a farmer thing, and you're right- all beans fix nitrogen. Actually, all legumes fix nitrogen, and clovers are a legume.

I didn't leave myself room for raising grains, which is explained in Feeding My Caveman.

I'm glad you found me though, and hope you enjoy it all.