Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cabin Life: A Rock in the Garden

The Water BarrelDespite the half inch of snow we got earlier this week, spring is rolling along.  I jerry-rigged a rain barrel, and I like not having to rely on small supply of drinking water to take care of the garden.  The thirty-five gallon barrel has a spigot on it and I set it up right next to the garden.  Unfortunately, I do not yet have the barrel set up properly.  I have a gutter that runs along the front porch, and a five gallon bucket that sits under the end of the gutter.  When we get rain and the bucket fills, I take the bucket a few feet to the barrel and dump the water in the top.  It’s not the best design, but it’s working well.

My tray of seedlings is doing OK, even though I forgot to pull them inside the other night during a frost.  Luckily all the seeds that had sprouted survived, but I have a few trays with nothing growing in them.  The carrots, spinach and tomatoes better get their acts together.

The peas, lettuce and broccoli are doing well, and even though it would be nice to have a big garden full of food, I’m content to take what I can get.  Plus, my garden is pretty small, so I may have over done it on the seedlings.

In fact, I’m going to have to prep another area for a second garden.  The first garden is right next to the front porch, on the south side of the cabin, where it gets full sun all day long.  I figured it would be the perfect spot since animals are unlikely to bother it and I don’t have to walk to get to the garden.  I sometimes surprise myself with these little bouts of laziness that are only apparent when I write them down.  Having the garden right there seemed efficient to me, but now that I’m telling all of you my reason, it just seems lazy.

It took me almost four hours to get my two-foot by four-foot garden ready.  Amy had told me that the previous occupants had used this little section as an herb garden, and so I assumed, incorrectly, that I would be able to just weed the little area and then plant away.

I pulled a few inches of roots, grass, and other assorted weeds out of the bed and then grabbed a garden rake to start to loosen up the soil.  That didn’t work too well since it has been so long since this area has been used, and I moved up to a hoe.  With my first swing of the hoe, I heard that distinctive metal-on-rock sound.  I also heard that same sound with the next swing, and the next.

It soon became apparent that a hoe and rake were not going to be sufficient.  The soil that was in the garden was only a couple inches deep, and underneath was nothing but rocks.  Either the people who used this spot as a garden were full of it, or they only grew very small plants that did not need a lot dirt to work into.

I grabbed a shovel and rock bar and started to get to work.  For a little while, it went well, with me being able to pull out about twenty grapefruit-sized rocks.  Then I got to the big guy.  After removing as much dirt as I could, I grabbed the rock bar and started to find the edges.  This rock turned out to be big enough that if it had been closer to the foundation, I would not have removed it for fear of undermining my house.

When the rock was uncovered and I could see what I was dealing with, I knew that I still had a lot of work to do.  There was no way I was lifting this rock (technically I think it’s a boulder).  I dismantled a couple feet of stone wall and dug out the dirt.  Then using the rock bar and shovel, I was able to roll the big rock out through the whole I had made.  It rolled a couple feet down the little hill, and for now, that’s where it’s staying.  I figure it’s not doing any harm where it is, and that will be a little less grass I’ll have to mow this summer.  I admit, it’s lazy.  But that rock is one thing that I am more than happy to be lazy about.


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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

2 Responses

  1. Uncle Paul says:

    Maybe it used to be a rock garden.

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