Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Renovating the Garden

The house sits on a L shaped lot with approximately a half acre in the front and almost a full acre in the back. This is right in the middle of a residential neighborhood that was created from old five acre horse properties, when it was at the edge of Denver.

Keeping the back acre mowed was quite the chore, so the decision was made to sell it off. This required that a long drive way (120' long or so) 20' wide would be carved out of one edge of the property to provide access. The land has been sold and now the vegetable garden extends on to the new property and has to be revamped to fit on to our property which is now only extends 2' from the south wall of the garage.[There is a reciprocal use agreement that allows the two properties that are next to each other to access their garages using this driveway. Talk about twisted legalize!]

The vegetable garden is approximately 10' wide and 42' long and runs along the wall of the garage. It is surrounded by a concrete wall about 12" high and about 6" or so thick (it might be 8" I didn't measure it). Originally I thought I could just take a sledge hammer to it so I talked to the original builder and asked if he used rebar in it. He said no, although he didn't mention what he did use. This wall was poured about 30 years ago and in that time it only developed one crack in it. That should have been a clue.

Since concrete would have to be removed and dirt relocated we decided to contract this little job out. They started yesterday figuring that they would have all the concrete knocked out and broken into nice size pieces for handling. 8 hours later they hadn't even managed to get a third of it knocked down, let alone move any of the very compacted earth that was behind it. It was thirty year old concrete and they figured it would come apart pretty easily. The electric jack hammer just wasn't cutting it. They didn't count on the fact that the builder poured concrete for a living and replaced a good portion of the flagstone sidewalks in Denver. He really knew what he was doing and didn't cut corners just because it was a wall for his vegetable garden. The foreman said that if they still built foundations this way no one would ever have cracked basement walls.

Seems that while there isn't any rebar in there, the builder did use some braided metal wire pieces that kind of look like barbed wire, but quite a bit thicker. Today they are coming with a real jackhammer, the kind that uses compressed air. If that doesn't work I'm not sure what they will do.

Here is the garden in full bloom one year. 12 Kale plants, 30 zucchini and 60 tomatoes by the end of the season.

No planting was done this year because the land was up for sale. Although the grapevines produced a bumper crop this year. They will stay in place.

The crack in the wall was here. They didn't make much progress,

Did better over here.

The pile of concrete. Not to many nice sized chunks though. Some of those will still have to be broken up.

The culprit. A six inch piece of twisted wire with hooks at the ends. It really holds things together.


  1. We are looking at getting our garden revamped at the moment, but I strongly suspect it will not be anywhere near the quality of your concrete walls... our patio cracks when you walk on it as there are gaping voids underneath! ;)

    1. Certainly doesn't sound that way! The contractors are very impressed with the quality of the concrete.