Thursday, October 28, 2010

They've landed!!

No, we are not trying to compete with Area 51 for the title of 'most flying saucers' - just trying to get more of the garden thing going!
Having a U-Haul rental joint close by is very cool. 
Empty-nesters only in the galvanized steel sense and only for the moment.  L was proud of his tethering job.
Roll, roll, roll your tank...
We made a temporary hinge in this section of the fence so that we could get all the landscaping stuff in from the vacant lot next door.
And there they are, flaked-out dog in the center for scale!  They have to be leveled, plumbed, shined-up, plastic-lined, and underpinned before the soil goes in, but you get the idea.  BTW, I took this photo standing on a six-foot stepladder.  When standing on the ground, the viewing angles are different and the houses in the background are not nearly as imposing. 
In case you're wondering what the hell these things are, well, they're stock tanks.  Livestock tanks, two six-foot diameter and one four-foot (it was only when we got them home that I realized the metaphorical significance of the choice - two big ones and one little one). 

It is within these that I plan to build our vegetable gardens.  There are several reasons why I can't garden here in the conventional manner: 

(1) Because NOBODY can - our gumbo clay soils are so poor that they can't even really be amended.  The only way to garden is to build beds on top of the native soils, and to put specially-blended soil mixtures in them.

(2) Because this IS a suburban backyard, and the garden(s) have to look cool, in keeping with the rest of Casa Caylawral.  It wouldn't look right if I dug some hillbilly hole out there.  Furthermore, we simply don't have the space to put in conventional 4' x 8' garden row sets.

(3) Because our industrious dog will defecate upon anything, ANYTHING I place upon the ground.  She is fully trained not to jump on furniture, however, and I'm quite confident that I can keep her from crapping on our onions and oregano if they are confined to these things.

Obscene dog pose.  Yard looks worse than it actually is - no rain whatsoever for SIX WEEKS now.  That tank in the foreground needs a serious cleaning.
After a lengthy internet search involving every vendor in America, I settled upon Behlen Country stock tanks, which are sold at the American Fence & Supply store about one mile from here.  They looked more sophisticated than other farm tanks, with cool bands and ribbed sides, like something you'd see at a contemporary art museum.  The six-foot tanks are a bit wide for this endeavor (difficult to reach all the way into the middle without climbing into them) but they are what the landscape asked for aesthetically. 

We are pleased with the way they look, and they aren't even set up yet.  We have so much stainless steel inside the house and absolutely none outside, so these finally provide balance and cross-reference.  As well as looking nice, these three tanks together provide an equivalent growing area as two 4' x 8' garden beds. Another advantage - not so much working on the knees (mine aren't what they used to be!). The growing surface is accessed by stooping, and not too low.  Or by squatting on a camp stool next to the side.

Incidentally, Lawrence is getting into this garden thing - it's bringing out the Aggie in him.  I initially thought that this pursuit might develop into my offset to his fantasy football, real football and political passions.  But he's already making plans for an automatic irrigation system for these, and he found a website where a vendor sells a special onion cultivar developed at A&M.  And he wants tomatoes, REAL tomatoes, not the tasteless kind sold in grocery stores (incidentally, during my gardening class, they explained why store-bought tomatoes taste so poorly - it's because the industrial ag system must harvest them X days ahead of when they should be harvested, in order to have them ripe when they hit the stores.  The too-early harvest halts certain biochemical processes necessary for good taste).

One more step in the process is now complete!  I haven't been able to recreate like this in years.

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