The Gravel Project: Part 4

29 03 2009

UPDATE: Please see this post for important results concerning this mulching project!

AJ and I awoke Saturday feeling the pain of the previous day’s labor. He laughed when I told him “I feel like I went to the gym, used every piece of equipment and then fell asleep in the tanning bed.”

With company on the road to our place we pulled ourselves together and set about getting the place ready for company. AJ worked on some projects outdoors while I gave the inside a much needed scrubbing.

After our guests had arrived and we had all eaten dinner, we took to the yard to admire it some more. I have been a rock and fossil hound since as early as I can recall; and have eccentric collections of all sorts of items picked up from in and on the ground. This gravel excited me so much more than the common chipped marble  because this is composed of fossilized shells. We now possess an expanse of million year old relics, many of which have survived in perfect condition. Before sunset and with wine glasses in hand, AJ and I went “beachcombing” on our ancient beach to pick out some great specimens.

Here is a closeup of the #57.


And, here is a closeup of the washed shell gravel.


Here are some of the shells we found. These are true fossils, with no shell material remaining.


Here is a closeup of  my baby carrots.


And here is a closeup of the bibb lettuce.


As dusk settled in I remarked upon how much better the yard smelled with the “catbox” far removed. As if on cue, the wind shifted and blew from the West bringing in the delicious fragrance from the nearby orange groves. Imagine the finest, sweetest citrus air freshener filling all of the outdoors.

Next weekend I will get the soil for The Oasis 2 and get my rapidly growing beans and melons planted. I plan to build a huge trellis out of bamboo, which when grown in should block the monstrous eyesore behind us. The Atomic Veteran is a sweet and kind man, but he chooses to collect junk like a professional hoarder.

The Gravel Project: Part 3

29 03 2009

Friday was a looooong day. By sundown the project was completed and we were exhausted.

Here are some shots of our handiwork:


Here is a closeup of the succulent garden.



Here’s the driveway with the car parked in it.


The containers are the beginnings of “The Oasis 2” More pickle buckets and a polyethylene barrel cut into 1/3rds. It contained a soy based liquid used in spray foam insulation. The MSDS states that it is only dangerous when inhaled. The liquid has solidified and I believe the containers will be fine for garden beds.

AJ filled in the gap behind the banana trees on Saturday. It looks even better now.



Here is The Oasis from the other side. The edges look rough in the photo, but in real life it looks nice. I was thrilled to have enough gravel to expand beyond the banana trees and devil’s backbone. It really feels like a beachy desert island.





The Gravel Project: Part 2

29 03 2009

At 11:05 on Friday morning the gravel delivery girl (yes girl) called to say that she was loading up the truck. We had been out prepping for hours, and her timing was perfect.

AJ dug out strips for the driveway while I cleaned up and organized the target areas.


I tidied up “The Oasis” and started moving the loose items out of the way. This is beforehand.


It’s hard to see in this shot, but I’ve got new sprouts of sage, parsley, celery and spinach in the concrete rings, as well as my two year old oregano and some green onions and a pineapple from grocery store cuttings. Up top, some garlic from the grocery store and some ancho chiles sprouting from seed. The lima bean seedlings peek up in the lower right.


Here’s another shot showing the tomatoes, green pepper, dill, baby carrots, basil and three kinds of lettuce.


Within minutes the driver was backing up into our driveway. AJ supervised as neighbor, Ralph watched. Ralph is the park landscaper and this kind of thing is right up his alley.


Erica, the driver, was a cute young woman with a sunny attitude and tight jeans. I think she made Ralph’s day. Wish I would have gotten her picture!

The gravel was divided into sections. We got 3.75 cubic yards of #57 (3/4″ Concreted Limestone). This came out first.


Behind the divider was the treat for me and the oasis: 1 1/4 cubic yards of Washed Shell Gravel. It is finer, cleaner and cost almost twice as much. We laid out a tarp so that it wouldn’t get mixed up with dirt. Then I had the brilliant idea of  pre-loading the buckets, so we placed them in the dump zone and stood back.


Erica, as diplomatic as she was cute, grinned and said “We’ll see what happens. When this stuff comes out, it really comes out.” And like the best laid plans of mice and men, so went ours.


I dubbed this new activity “Gravel Bowling”. I think the buckets were at a distinct disadvantage. We all got a good laugh, though.


Energized, we began what would be a very long day of moving five tons of gravel. Happy Birthday AJ! Although I’m sure you could have thought of better ways to spend it.

The Gravel Project: Part 1

29 03 2009

I’ve been so busy I have missed posting quite a few events. Perhaps I’ll get back to that. We have hardly seen a free weekend since I can remember. We have dubbed our RV “Breezeway B&B” since we have guests almost every other weekend (including this one). AJ’s mother and her wonderful boyfriend are here this weekend and through Tuesday. Their coming spurred us to do something we have been planning for quite a while. I’ll start with this “The Gravel Project” and try to catch up on the older events when time permits.

If you are new to this blog you may not know about my raised garden bed project. I started a couple of years ago with some concrete rings and a few herbs.  Last year I moved into vegetables, and this year I am in full survival mode growing as much as I can handle in the event that we encounter “The Greater Depression”. Doomsday or no, I  have genuinely taken an interest in gardening and making a beautiful environment where once was a sandy, stinky catbox of a yard.

For the first bed called “The Oasis” I gathered about 10 pickle buckets and formed them into an oval. I placed my concrete rings on the front and filled the whole thing with two cubic yards of topsoil and compost. Next, AJ harvested and cut a bunch of bamboo stakes, which I painstakingly (no pun intended) pounded into the ground all around the buckets. I started with the surviving herbs from last year and volunteers that popped up in the yard, as well as vegetables from the grocery store that grow when you stick them in the ground. I bought a tomato and green pepper from the flea market and took a break. As it got warmer the urge to really garden kicked in. I spent the money I had saved up for a haircut on heirloom seeds and got to planting as soon as they arrived. Some sprouted within three days!

The armadillos were really tearing up the yard and even getting into my raised bed, so the next phase became more urgent. It’s been extremely dry and we both got very tired of the sand tracking into the RV and cars. AJ has been working nonstop on the Mercedes (another overdue post) and has wanted a gravel driveway to make that easier. On Thursday, I began thinking about the company we were having and the fact that AJ’s high class aunt and uncle were invited over on Monday. It was warm and breezy and the stench of cat doo was wafting through the open windows. It was all I could take. I picked up the phone and called Stone Mountain Gravel. Lo and behold, the gravel I wanted was on sale, and delivered was less expensive than the stuff AJ had priced at another place. Since Friday was his birthday and they could deliver on Friday I promoted this as his birthday present. Even though we would have to charge it and pay it back next week, on payday, he agreed to go have a look.

Within an hour, the gravel was ordered and scheduled for Friday morning delivery. This was a big project, so I’ll break it down into smaller posts.