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.

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

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

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Here is a closeup of  my baby carrots.

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And here is a closeup of the bibb lettuce.

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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.

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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:

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Here is a closeup of the succulent garden.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.