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jcrous
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Location: Cape Town (Brackenfell)

shadehouse repaired and better

I am new to this foruym after I have not planted for nearly 3 years due to a serious handicap (I could not bend and could not squad without tearing my knee cartledge - that happened anyway)
I have had my probable last knee operation 7 weeks ago as well as an osteotomy.
I decided to just plant a few plant in a pot to just save my seeds.

Useles!! I started fully. Never mind the pain and the handycap. I will worry about that another day. Easier said than done as I get very frustrated when the pain is too much or when I get tired. However my healing is making rapid progress and I have achieved a lot in my garden so far.

I have a shade house, made from treated timber with a 40% shade cloth, not so much to protect against the sun, but to keep birds, insects and cats out. Birds and cat I can keep out, but fruit fly and small critters is difficult. I am successful with moths and butterflies, so my worm pests are less.

In the past three years I have not maintained the tunnel so my neighbour's leaves were too heavy a load and some of the top thin beams collapsed. The cloth now lasted for 9 years already and still strong going. I repaired the beams with thicker droppers and it is now back to new condition. The neighbour aqlso decided to get rid of the tree. It is a silver oak that overhangs my shadehouse.

Inside the shadehouse I have three beds, 1 of 5 x 18 feet and 2 of 5 x 25 feet. They have 1 foot high prefab concrete panels sunken in the soil with permanent concrete pathes inbetween. I also have two 4 x4 x4 foot compost bins of bricks. The soil is rather sandy and I add lots of compost annually, about 2 inches thick. It is dig in about 6 inches deep. I get wonderfull results.

I stopped hydroponics in containers and changed to a soil mix of 1 part soil, 1 part manure and 1 part compost. It is working very well and the high temp days do not dry out the soil. I did not yet added compost in my beds yet as I was not yet ready for the work due to the injuries.

I rethink my whole approach and I decided to go to raised beds. I added an 8 inch rased bed structure to the smaller bed and that I am going to fill with no soil but compost only. I am going to dig it twelve inch deep, achieving a 1 part soil and 2 parts of compost, of wich 1 part is in the concrete part (below soil level) and 2 parts will be above soil level in the wooden structure boundaries.

In our warm climate I need the rich compost planting medium. I completed the main structure tonight and will add the stakes tomorrow evening. I plan to purchase 1 cubic meter of compost on Saturday. I will not be able to completely fill the bed but after digging it will raise to about two inches from the top - maybe less. This I will fill with compost mulch that I make myself or buy loose.

I am of the opinion that my plants will grow now even better than before. The other two beds I will complete one at a time, to evn better give myself a chance to heal. Also to be lighter on my budget as it is rather expensive. I will plant to the principles of square foot gardening (closer population of plants).

The shade cloth protected my plants against the sun, although I still had too much heat at times. With the better soil/compost mix I will get better reslults.

I am still planning on building a small (12 x 20 foot) polytunnel later in the year. However I will use my new compost formulae soil mix rather than dry type (choir) hydroponics.

When everything is finished, I will add some photographs.
Regards

Johan

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jcrous
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Location: Cape Town (Brackenfell)

Re: shadehouse repaired and better

I am very thankfull for having built the shadehouse in the first place. Today the temeprature hit 41 degrees of c (105.8 F). Cooking hot. My cucumbers survived easily.
I have completed the first box and tomorrow I am buying compost in bulk for the innitial fill-up.
Regards

Johan

gardeningwithe
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Location: Tennessee - 6B

Re: shadehouse repaired and better

I can't wait to see photos! Glad it is getting there slowly, but surely. Sounds like you have put a lot of work in already! Sounds like a good plan to me :)-- Just be sure you are taking care of you as well!

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jcrous
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Location: Cape Town (Brackenfell)

Re: shadehouse repaired and better

gardeningwithe

I have completed the first bed and filled it today:

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First to show how my leg looks like now. This is the reason why I had to neglect my gardening. The other one was also done.

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The first load of compost. On my way to Stanler farms (who buy compost from Denny Mushrooms in bulk), I came upon another supplier that I observed while on my way to them. He sold it for much cheaper than the others and they also let me pay pro-rata. So I saved R120.00 today. I dumped the first load on a big piece of canvas and hurried to purchase a second load before the closed. You can see my crutches parked against the wall of my neighbours garage (built on my boundary). I did not have time for them today. Now that I am typing, I know exactly how painful my leg is - but it was still worth it.

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Good quality and fine.

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The second load is transferred directly from the trailer to the bed. For thos who notice: This is South Africa. That is my fencing that I recently installed. Total peace of mind.

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Lots of shoveling and wheelbarrow pushing. Just uncomfortable with my one leg. Each time I step not level or bump my foot against something, there is a stab through my leg.
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Before I fill, a pic of what is in the shadehouse. My cucumber plants. They are planted in a 25l container (Just over a gallon) with a very humus rich mix of 1 soil, 1 manure and 1 compost. In our heat this reserve the water and the plant get all the needed food from the soil. The plants are staked and trained with one vine upwards.

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How they are anchored. Later when I have build a polytunnel, the containers will be moved there. The shade is not making the planting area dark (40% shade), but at least it helped through yesterday's heat of 41C / 105.8F. It also keep the birds and butterflies out. Less pests. The blocks are anchoring the trellis structure.

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Starting to fill. You can see my compost structure at the back. Right is filled a third with the previous seasons compost and left is a new heap in the making. The bed on the right is still a mess and without a wooden box. I bought the timber today. The paths is concrete. Concrete panels are lining the beds' sides to a depth of 12 inches. It keeps the insect eating moles away.

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Filled and raked smooth.

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Comparing the new with the old. The timber is 8 inches high and therefore 8 inches above the existing soil level.

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The soil is dug in 12 inches deep (nearest third of bed) and therefore 4 inches of soil is mixed with 8 inches of compost. A humus rich mix that will hold water well. (Note the cucumber on the right - still left of the box - how far the leaves extend over the container's edges)

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Done with mixing and raked smooth.

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The remainder compost is saved for the next bed.

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I hate flies bothering me when working. Now none are tempted to sit on me. This evil smelling bait is luring them.

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Complete and wetted down. The water is penetrating immediately and not standing as usual on our fatty sandy soil. The post in the centre of the picture is hiding the mentioned cucumber. My Leatherman that is riding on my belt in a pouch hooked on the string and pulled the one plant out. I replanted it and just cut off the biggest leaves to prevent shock. I believe it will survive.

I will post further pics as I progress, but it will take a while. At least there will be pics of the plants and how they grow as well.
Last edited by jcrous on Sat Feb 01, 2014 2:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Regards

Johan

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Cola82
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Re: shadehouse repaired and better

Looking very nice! :D

You take it easy, man. You've done a lot.

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jcrous
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Location: Cape Town (Brackenfell)

Re: shadehouse repaired and better

My fingers are itching. I can't rest. Just want to plant and have fun! Now I do.
Regards

Johan

affgar
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Location: NSW, Australia
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Re: shadehouse repaired and better

Looks very cool :D Nice Job!

Just a word of caution ... what timber did you use?
Here in Aus we get treated pine. I would tend to steer away from treat pine for vegetable garden edging. Aged treated pine would be a little safer ... but I would keep clear generally. I just don't like the idea myself. Many people seem fine with it.

You do good work there my friend. Love your work.

gardeningwithe
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Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 11:04 pm
Location: Tennessee - 6B

Re: shadehouse repaired and better

Looks so great!! All the hard work has definitely paid off! Do try and rest in between things though, so you will be able to enjoy the whole gardening season. I know it is hard to sit still when gardening time comes around though. Best of luck with the gardens and the continued strengthening and healing of your legs.

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jcrous
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Re: shadehouse repaired and better

Affgar, it is treated pine, several years old, that is the reason it looks grey and not green. It was stored in the open in the lumber yard and was exposed to rain for a long time.

I our hot climate, when the timeber is exposed to dsaily watering you use treated timber or it will rot down the next year.

I had more problems about toxic water when I used my borehole water previously. It contained too many merals/metals wich made the plants grow funny. I treated for several diseases before I realised it was the water. When I switched back to tap water the plants were healthy and never stopped growing. Tap water has 6 g of stuff disolved in it while the borehole water had 160 g / 100 l.
Regards

Johan

affgar
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Re: shadehouse repaired and better

No worries Johan.

Looks absolutely awesome. Can't wait to see some of the great veggies you produce :)

Water is a funny one. Here, some bores are full of iron etc ...
Our tap water is full of fluoride & chlorine ... not ideal for growing plants. Seems fine generally but plants would much prefer rain water.

I would love to get a really large rain water tank for my garden. Maybe one day....

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applestar
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Re: shadehouse repaired and better

:shock: sounds like a lot of work! Not sure if I could have done as much even without the injuries. :clap:

Looking forward to seeing your hard work pay off. Be sure to schedule tea breaks between tasks and take entire day(s) off to let your legs and other muscles recover for progressive therapy.

Keep us posted with updates :D

(By the way -- I love that the two of you are understanding each other with the terminology -- is "borehole water" what we call "well water" in the USA? My friend's brother had to move because the well water at his rented house failed during the annual inspection due to contaminants :eek:)
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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jcrous
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Location: Cape Town (Brackenfell)

Re: shadehouse repaired and better

Applestar,

Actually the water I am referring to is wellpoint water.

A borehole is a nored well, about 10 - 12 inches wide and very deep, with a pump under the water.
A wellpoint is a pipe blown into the soil up until you hit the clay, 2 inches wide and not deeper than 29 feet as deeper there will be no water at all. You insert then a plastic pipe of 1 inch with the bottom part of 1 foot full of slits sawn with a hacksaw and covered with pantyhose to keep sand out. The pump is above soil and suction only. One such a point normally give a very poor stream of water, byt when three are linked you can get up to 2000 L/h. My wellpoint is not so good. It is 11 feet deep and delivers 500 l/h. At the price of electricity it is cheaper to use tap water.

I am also busy digging a well (1m dia - 40 inches dia). I am now 2,5 m deep with the bottom 0.75 m full of water. That gives a reservoir of 600 liters of water. The concrete man-hole rings are half a meter hing. If I cen get a few more (deeper) then I will have enough water. The pump is suction type and aboeve the ground with a foot valve on the pipe to the bottom. You pump out the water and wait until it flows full again. About two hours later you can pump so much again. I aim to have 2000 usable water. But the water will be for the lawn only. I will stay with tap water for the veggies.

Rain water is not an option here as our rain comes in winter.
Regards

Johan

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jcrous
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Re: shadehouse repaired and better

I have planted rsingle rows of Lettuce, Swizz Chard, Parsley and two rows of Green Peppers yesterday. Although 28C / 82F today (I can only wet in the late afternoons / evenings as I am working) the soil around the seedlings was still very damp. So the seedlings survived in the sun and moderate breeze. My mix is working.
Although past the mid of season, our hor part is nowhere near past. We have anoth 4 months of good growing left.
The cucumber that I have pulled out by accident survived as well and new leaves are already showing.
Regards

Johan

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jcrous
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Re: shadehouse repaired and better

Image
The second bed is almost completed. I had to stop due to a shortage of screws. I will purchase Monday. I am actually glad. Yesterday the temperature was around 40C / 104F. The sun will fry your brains in your skull!

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This is how the first bed is doing. The ability to keep moisture is legendary. However I notice there is a shortage of calcium. The peppers' upper leaves (new growth) is not so smooth than the lower leaves. In this unbearable heat these plants are actually growing very fast. Definitely a huge success.
Regards

Johan

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rainbowgardener
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Re: shadehouse repaired and better

Looking great! Hard to imagine 104 degrees when we are sitting under piles of snow, but summer will come to us eventually.
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