Victory Garden 2nd Chapter

Victory Garden 2nd Chapter demonstrates that the closer to we get to completion, the more the Landscaping, soil, plants and irrigation morph into one nice little garden.


LANDSCAPING

Hopefully we're back on task after the Ficus Root and Irrigation delays that started this project.

The Victory Garden 2nd design Plan had to be adjusted for cart maneuverability and underground pool and irrigation plumbing positions. The corrected calculations leave room for only inches between success and disaster. Driving in re-bar for the garden timbers will have to be done carefully.

But first, it's time to fill and level the plot. The grading away from the pool is set. Using the garden path timbers as guides for leveling makes raking in the dirt to level an easier task.

The timbers will be filthy when done, but a little hose washing will get most of the dirt off, the rest will give the timbers a nice aged look.

Note the flags in the photos, used for locating the underground irrigation and pool plumbing. Unfortunately everything converges right at the front and Northeast corner of the Victory Garden 2 level Herb / Insectory garden.

The Victory garden's 2 sets of pool supply and return lines will run right along the cart path edge in case access is required, the same was done for the irrigation feeds in other sections of the garden.

Cart width measurements assure easy cart access along all paths.



Speaking of the cart, (reviewed later in this chapter) after moving the cart around the plot bringing in the 5 yards of topsoil, it became evident that even with it's superb turning radius there would have to be some path adjustments for turning and turnaround.

Note: In the Victory Garden 2nd Plan drawing, besides the paths being made a little wider, the North end of the center garden corners were angled to accommodate turning. Also, a cutout access was added directly across from the orchid house / grape arbor for turnaround.

All timbers were lined on the bottom and inside of garden bed. The victory garden 2 mil plastic sheeting was stapled on, to extend timber life and resist rotting.
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The timbers were positioned with offset ends to provide more stability when the re-bar holes were drilled and the re-bar was hammered in. The re-bar holes were 3/4" and 18" long by 1/2" re-bar pieces were used for best stability, in case the cart or a clumsy gardener unintentionally bangs into the sides.

The irrigation feeds were raised and marked by flags and the beds were back filled.

The only landscaping remaining in the next Chapter is the addition of stone to the cart paths and mulch in the garden beds.

Due to timing problems many of the plants were added during construction.

Here is where some of our plants came from.



CALIFORNIA DREAMING

In spite of the disastrous results of trying to grow Heirloom tomato varieties in the Sub-Tropics of South Florida, a recent trip to California kindled the burning desire to give it one more try.

We visited various restaurants and farms throughout Napa and Sonoma and tasted some of the best tomatoes imaginable. Of course, the wine had nothing to do with or in anyway influenced our tomato tastings.

But, only one farm had tomatoes so outrageous we bought some, took them back to our hotel and immediately began seeding them.

Learn how to seed tomatoes on the Tomato Plants page and note the word "fermenting".

I'm sure the hotel staff thought that we had some serious digestion problems.

The Farm that won over our little tomato hearts was Verdure Farm in Healdsburg in West Sonoma County.

The farm is owned and operated by Tamara Scalera affectionately known as the "Tomato Goddess".

Try one her tomatoes and you will understand the moniker.



If you ever visit the California wine country this is an easy access, quick stop well worth the trip.

Don't expect a high end Vineyard style vista and tasting room. This is a simple, old school, vegetable stand. Mmmm, wish I was there right now!

This little farm sells it's tomatoes and vegetables to some of the top restaurants in San Francisco, Wine Country and points in between.

You can buy the same tomatoes and vegetables at the stand.

Our Favorite California heirloom was the Black from Tula.

Over the years I've grown some great Black varieties, but when we took this one apart for seeding, I couldn't believe the texture, which led to the taste. OMG! This tomato had an acid / sweetness balance that was remarkable.

I can only hope our Victory Garden version is as good.



Hats off to the Goddess and her heavenly vegetable garden. You can contact Tamara at:

Tomato Heaven
2476 Westside Road
(P.O Box 562)
Healdsburg, Ca 95448
707-433-1403 office



I am always intriqued with unique growing styles. So, I was amazed with the dry grown Early Girls. That's right! zero irrigation! Very tasty little reds!

I guess sometimes we just have to let Mother Nature do her thing.

The Victory Garden project, however, needs controlled water delivery due to South Florida's quirky weather patterns.






IRRIGATION


The 20' X 30' plot's irrigation will be run by the Victory Garden's 2 zone irrigation system.

Each zone will have two overhead sprinkler heads. The four heads will be setup to blanket the garden from above with a heavy mist spray.

The first pair of the victory garden's 2 sprinkler heads will be equally spread along the house line spraying out to the center garden.

The Victory Garden's 2 overheads in the second zone, will locate one on the East side fence also shooting to the center garden and positioned slightly off center towards the orchid house.

The other will be on the North fence side positioned slightly off center towards the fence corner.

Each feed will combine overhead and ground watering in the zones.

The last of the victory gardens 2 feeds are located in the center garden section. One for the Herb / Insectory by the pool, the other will run all ground watering of the rest of the center garden.

All necessary calculations were done to be sure the up and down feeds had adequate pressure to run both the overhead and ground watering.

This series of photos demonstrates assembly and installation of one of the up and down setups. Always do a dry run assembly to be sure the desired result is achieved. If not, once it's glued, your..(insert grade school rhyming or the adequate carpentry term).

Once assembled, glued and dried, the up and down will be connected to the feed and in this case, the brown 1/2" - 1 GPH drip line will be attached.







The Herb / Insectory section of the Garden uses three different styles of ground irrigation.

On the left is a smaller 1/4" - 1 GPH drip system.

The center section is black 1/2' pipe that incorporates small screw in sprayers that are aimed at the base of the plants, as well as screw in drippers.

The last section on the right is the brown 1/2" - 1 GPH drip system.




When designing and setting up irrigation in raised bed gardens, measurements are critical! Even the best landscapers will miss one now and then. Guys like me are good for at least two or more. Here are the Victory Garden's 2 mess ups for this project.

This up and down went perfect right up until the install to the feed. The ground watering connection is supposed to be on the ground, then covered by mulch.

This 2 1/2 inch mistake was cured by cutting out a three inch section of the vertical riser and rejoining the two, now shorter halves, with a female to female 1/2" connector.

The next mess up wasn't quite as easy.

This miscalculation made it necessary to use a Sawzall to cut an access hole through the bottom of one of the Herb section timbers in order to get the feed into position. This was a messy dirty mistake.



Speaking of dirty, here's some soil info.



SOIL



This project required 5 yards of top soil to level the plot and fill the beds. The Victory Gardens 2nd Chapter featured tool is a dumping cart. (more on that later) The plot had no vehicle access except for the cart.

One cart load is approx. twenty full spade shovels. The good news is that the dirt was only shoveled once into the cart, the cart's dump mechanism accurately handled the delivery.

Once the pile was done, I decided to get an idea of just how much weight my old body and that scrappy little cart handled.

Here's the math. 1 yard of topsoil can weight between 2,000 - 3,000 pounds depending on consistency and wetness. My wife would tell me it was only 10,000 pounds, man up! In conversations at parties, I was proudly embellishing that it was a tad over 15,000 pounds. Either way it was a load!

Can't wait to get to the cart path stone installation.

I got lucky on the Soil balances in this project. This dirt averaged around 6.5 PH, a bit more acidity than I like, but it worked. Fortunately the only problem on the nutrient side was that it was a little high in Nitrogen.

The garden schedule was running weeks behind. There was no time to treat and cure the soil. There was an easy solution though. The solution required an adjustment in my planting mix recipe and per plant volume.

Less nitrogen was used during the mix, each planting hole would have to be dug out a little wider and deeper. The larger size would be slightly smaller than a a mature Tomato plant root ball.

This would give the plants more time to grow into the new home, while giving the excess nitrogen time to leach out via irrigation.

In this picture you can see the extreme difference, in color, between the Victory Gardens 2 soil types, the dark plot soil and the planting soil for the San Marzano tomatoes.

The heirloom seeds for these plants came directly from San Marzano, Italy.

These tomatoes are famous for their flavor and texture. The ultimate tomato for Italian cooking recipes.

Some soil recipes are as guarded, and possibly, more than favorite cooking recipes.

After a few formula changes, the soil is nearly spot on for producing that famous San Marzano flavor. The formula came from studying the known nutrient make up of the Italian soil and the organics of their volcanic earth.

While in California, I realized their soil is very similar in consistancy to this mix.

The San Marzano formula retains nutrients so well I use a similar version in all my planting soil. In fact a version of this planting soil formula was used in the Beefmaster Project



Obsession? Of course! Normal people don't do these things, but gardeners do. Welcome to the club.






TOOLS

Starting this project, I knew I would be moving obscene amounts of material from the front of the house through the narrow passage to the garden plot in the backyard.

I used to have a wheelbarrow, but when carrying heavy, out of balance payloads, starting and stopping was very difficult, plus getting sideways was asking for a trip to the hospital. I had to look for a Victory Garden 2nd choice.

The stability of four wheels made sense. One of those little red kiddie wagons was a consideration until I saw this thing.

Great turning radius, a well thought out dumping mechanism and pneumatic tires (like a car). Super! Oh wait! What's This? A Plastic hopper? Really!?

In hind site the lite weight made a big difference. And only one damaged spot had to be repaired with matching HD black duct tape after severe abuse.

I thought I heard the plastic wagon crying a couple of times, but it was laughing.

This wagon carried tons of material, Another ton or so of garden timbers, sharp objects and blunt objects. It was also used as my plumbing irrigation supply station.

They said this little plastic toy could handle 1,000 pounds, I laughed. The little cart has been laughing back ever since.

This is absolutely one of my top three garden tools. Kudos to the little Gorilla.



See you next time! It's bound to get interesting.


Heres' everything leading to the Victory Garden 2nd Chapter