old bolts

Seven summers of hard growing, seven cold and rainy winters, add in last spring’s high-speed car crash and our pea patch plot was coming apart at the seams. Good soil spewed from both free walls, pouring through the planks and nourishing weeds. A few overgrown raddichio were the only things holding the soil in places. It was time for a serious makeover.

Which for me usually means finding someone else to do the work, but that’s not how things roll in a community garden. So, several weeks back, our plot neighbors Anastasia and Jay dug out and removed the failed load-bearing planks we share. Another weekend and they cored two feet down into clay for new posts. All that needed to happen from there was to nail a couple of 2-inch x 12-inch planks into place, right?

Yeah … right. Last weekend we dug out the sides of the plots. We realigned falling- down boards. We grappled with the unexpected finding that the beds sit atop a groundwater runoff site. Which meant re-inventing the wall on the fly, and that meant lots of down time waiting for additional supplies and tools. Happily, it also meant time visiting with one another and with the steady stream of curious neighbors who stopped by to assess progress.

By Sunday evening we reached another impasse, and thing started to seem like it might never be finished. A round of frosty beers materialized, and we decided to stick around a little while longer. Then a fellow pea patcher appeared with a freshly-charged drill battery and the final tasks fell into place. We drilled in the last bolts, mixed and poured concrete, angled the new wall back against the soil, and left it all to set just as the rain began to come down.

Charlie backfilled the dirt this week and we’re finally ready to start growing again. Three-plus weeks of labor and it was so much work it felt like you were building somewhere you could live. Then again, having a place to grow your own food is no small thing, especially when the result is some seriously bomber raised beds. It should be many good years of vegetable growing ahead.

patch wall