Thursday, March 11, 2010

French Drain, Planting Salad, Jamming.


After getting school work and household chores done yesterday, we went outside to do more work on the French drain we'd begun the other day. Leah had come over and helped us dig a ditch for it. Here we've laid the pipe in to see if we've got a decent slope for correct drainage.

Original French drains did not have pipe. They were simply channels, or ditches, dug out and filled with gravel or rock. Water seeks the lowest point, so you can seriously effect the amount of water in a given area by drawing it into the rock filled ditch that gradually slopes away, and takes the water with it. A pipe is not necessary, but adds length of time before the ditch becomes filled with earth and ineffective, due to erosion. The larger your drain, the longer it will take for it to fill with silt, so balance how much you want to dig out and fill with gravel to how soon you want the ditch to stop working.

Straight PVC pipe would have been better, I discovered after already purchasing and getting this good and dirty. The reason is that should it ever get clogged, a snake, not the animal kind but the drain clearing tool, can be used in a smooth walled pipe, but not in this corrugated pipe. Also, it's a little easier to choose your slope when your pipe holds a shape, rather than conforming to the ground.

Here is how the corrugated pipe fits together. The blue lines help you line them together visually so that the holes are all on the same side. When in the trough you've dug, the holes need to be on the top side.

At this point I got distracted by another chore that had to be done yesterday, as we were expecting rain. Michael went to get some tools and I began working in the herb garden area. I always hope that in winter, no weeds will grow, but I rediscovered that not to be true. The entire beds were covered in weeds. Not for the first time, I marveled at the amount and variety of plant growth that takes place, even in the dead of winter. I again wondered why we don't just eat that instead of purchasing greens in the market.

I know for myself it's that I do not know if it is all safe. Look at a few of these choices. This first one, if I remember correctly, is something I HAVE actually tried, but I'm not sure.

Michael cut back some of the dead growth from last year on the the taller herbs, like the basil and the fennel.

Many of my highly valued plant markers had been heaved out of the ground by the freezing and thawing of the earth all winter.

I found a new lavender plant. I have all sorts of beautiful pictures in my head about these.

Those images have not yet transferred to the actual plant bed, but I have high hopes.

A new rosemary plant.

The beds sure don't look like much right now.

And I could not resist this lemon thyme. You just push your face into the leaves and inhale... aaaaaaahhhhhh. I could not decide where to put it, so I just stuck it at the end of a row, deciding I'll move it later if I want to. I am burying my head in the sand concerning whether or not this is spreading, like regular thyme.... (Fingers in my ears, "la, la, la...")

Then we moved on to a ready made salad garden. I thought about all the effort we put into growing stuff from seed last year that did not amount to much, then I looked at the packs of 9 Red Sails lettuce for $3.50 and decided it was worth it. So we prepped a spot in the herb beds with hand tools, as our vegetable garden area is not ready for planting. We still plan on growing later plants from seed, but this will give us an early crop.

Moss intrigues me. But it was hand dug into the soil.

And we planted them in rows of three, about a foot apart.

And added in some Arugula, flat-leafed parsley, and curly-leafed parsley at the end.

And there is our early salad garden. So cool to have a head start on the weeds!

Back to the French drain. Michael was cleaning out the debris and spider webs from the pipe that had been laying outside since last summer.

We ran some water to check our slope.

It was pretty good, except at the end where I was dreading having a trench running across the entry of the greenhouse. But we had to dig it out. We can fill it will gravel, but this will always be a problem without spending a lot of money. The lesser of two evils if I do not want to struggle with a muddy floor inside the greenhouse during rain.

The landscape fabric we must wrap around the pipe to slow the entry of earth into the holes as it gradually sifts through the gravel over the years. We cut the 50 foot roll in half, long ways, to save money.

And then we had to tie the fabric with twine to hold it around the pipe, as it barely fit at that point. Once the gravel is on top, the decomposition of the twine won't matter.

And that's where we had to leave off and get ready to take Michael in early for worship music practice before our Bible study.

After our study, almost all the young people brought out instruments and jammed for an hour. Some are cut off out of the photo here. This is always fun and great practice.

Today, more French drain work and, I'm hoping, getting some grass seed in the ground.




  1. Yay! you have some stuff planted! I just started my Wintersowing project a number of days ago. Need any seeds? lol

    Glad to see you posting again, i didn't have any posting to do for a while myself. Either too busy or nothing to report.

    Here's to an early Spring (i hope).

  2. Hokey toot, Faith! I thought you all might have fallen off the face of the earth!!!
    Sounds like you are VERY busy with yard stuff. I do have lemon of my favorites...and it does not spread much. The best thing about thyme (and sage and oregano) is that they are perennials in my garden. Even in the dead of winter I can clear the snow off and find thyme and sage. The oregano takes a few weeks of spring to come back to life. My dill also re-seeds itself! Gotta love those plants that keep on giving!
    Glad to see you back!


  3. Hey Icebear,

    I need to make a jog over and see if you've got a new post up. Yup, I noticed you had stalled out as well. Winter up north can be challenging to find yard stuff to blog about. ;o)

    After rain this afternoon, it's cleared out a little, the sun is shining, and I've noticed a slight tinge of green on the ground.



  4. Cyn!

    It's been a while for sure. You were out of commission for a while yourself, some sort of whining about a little boo-boo on your knee...? ;o)

    Are you posting again? How are your knees now, after that surgery? I heard awful stories about how hard those are and you have my prayers for healing and joyful, springy Spring.

    Yup, I noticed the same thing with my perennials out there this week. Under all of last years dead branches is a thick carpet of baby growth. Good for all year!

    I'm waiting to see what all is going to reseed itself. I've had a low carpet of cilantro and chamomile all winter.

    Thanks for the re-welcome. :o)


  5. WTG! Your drain looks awesome! Just the type of project I would never attempted. LOL! You're like WonderWoman. Hope your new lavender does well. You have such a good start on the season.

  6. Thanks Jo,

    I'm struggling on the drain though, no way to get gravel out here with my truck not working. I didn't make it to church to ask around for a loaner. I've got to get that filled before the ditch fills or the posts get loose. Yikes!


  7. I believe that is sorrelgrowing up there in your first 'plant' picture. It looks like the abundant grown in one lily bed here at home. Told its edible but I'm not certain - a worrisome pest for my lily-growing.


I always enjoy hearing from others. If you become a regular commenter, I'll assume you are being friendly and pretty much comment regularly right back. :o) God bless and have a terrific day!