Tag Archives: garden

Twine Has Many Uses

Cold weather has arrived. Killing frost has eliminated much of the browse favored by the goats. Hay goes into the hay troughs and twine accumulates in the barn.

My old barn accommodates square bales. I prefer them as they are small enough for me to handle. The flakes are easy to count out for the goats.

Each bale is tied with two lengths of twine. Each piece is about five feet long. It’s good twine, too good to throw away.

So the piles accumulate. A long nail is covered. Another nail is covered. they are piled so high new pieces slide off.

twine gate hinge

Over the summer the end of the shade house is open for easy access. When the shade house becomes a greenhouse, a plastic covered piece of cattle panel goes up. Twine makes great temporary gate hinges.

One pile is almost gone now. It moved to the garden.

I started with two cattle panels bent to form a long trellis so the inside could have some shade. That end of the garden got far too hot for most plants during the summer.

Then I thought about covering this shade house with plastic to form a cold greenhouse over the winter. This worked well. In fact, on sunny days the inside was a balmy summer day.

Then the wind began. We’ve always had some wind. A few days here and there weren’t a problem. Breezes weren’t a problem.

Now the wind blows most days hard enough to blow the plastic off the winter greenhouse. Plastic is hard to hold down when its laying over wire panels.

twine over greenhouse

This temporary greenhouse is great for cole crops like turnips, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Wind is a problem as it lifts and destroys the plastic. The twine pieces should keep the plastic from lifting.

Watching the plastic made me think. The wind pulls the plastic up. It also gets inside and billows the plastic up.

I tried tossing some flexible wire pieces over the plastic. These helped, but would slide off.

Twine offered a possible solution. So the pile moved out to the garden.

Three pieces tied together would go over the panels. Each cattle panel had three of these lengths tied to on end.

twine ropes

Regular twine works well in the garden. Plastic twine is great for braiding ropes and lead ropes. These two 30 foot ropes are braided out of six strands of plastic baling twine and are used to tie down hay on my truck. I like a loop in the beginning end of the rope and tie off the other end.

Plastic went on the panels. Twine went over the plastic.

This did present a new problem as the twine kept the plastic from reaching the ground. The side garden beds are now buried under manure and mulch. This blocks the spaces.

The cabbage and Brussels sprouts plants weren’t happy about killing frost. Now they have their greenhouse to thwart the next round of frosts.

An old post has instructions for braiding a lead rope from baling twine. Find it here.

Fixing Garden Gates

No, the PVC garden gates are not broken already. They work very well. The fixing is due to another problem: the gap under the gates.

A gate must be hung clear of the ground or it will not swing open and closed. My garden ground is not level and the gates were hung to clear the highest point of ground under them.

gap under gate

That gap under my garden gate looks so very small yet the worn area in the dirt shows it is in use as do the clipped hollyhocks and bitten green tomatoes.

Gaps under gates are open invitations to my local garden raiders.

Skunks wander around digging small holes looking for grubs and other skunk delicacies. A four inch gap is plenty of room for them to slip through.

barrier set up

Although the barrier must block the gap, the wheelbarrow must still get into and out of the garden. The bricks form a ramp over the barrier from both inside and outside the garden.

Raccoons can ravage a garden in a single night especially almost ripe tomatoes and corn. They grab one fruit, bite it, toss it aside and grab the next one. They need a big gap under the gates and will gladly use it when available.

Armadillos need bigger gaps and can dig their way under. They leave big holes behind in their search for grubs and other delicacies.

closed garden gate

The final test is closing the gate. The barrier must fill the gap but be behind the gate .

Woodchucks need only two or three inches open under the gates. They can flatten themselves until they are like a moving carpet flowing over the ground. If their head fits, they do. They will also dig a bigger gap if they need to.

My gates all have two to 5ive inch gaps under them. The ground is hard but not that hard to dig up. The gaps have to go and dirt will not work.

gate gap barrier

The gap was larger under this gate so taller stones were needed. The ramp works for the wheelbarrow even though it is narrow as it must go straight into and out of this garden gate.

Another consideration is how I use the gates. I can open them and walk in and out even if there is a stone wall across the opening. Wheelbarrows don’t go in and out over a short stone wall.

The solution was to place taller stones on each side with a ramp in the middle. The wall fills the gap. Since it is stone, woodchucks can’t dig it up. The ramp lets the wheelbarrow go in and out.

closed gate

Mice and snakes can still squeeze under the gate but the woodchuck and the skunk aren’t that small.

My gates are now hung and the gaps are filled with stone. No skunk, raccoon, armadillo or woodchuck will get under my gates as long as I remember to fasten the latches.

Now the problem will be stopping those garden raiders who climb: raccoons, squirrels and woodchucks.

Hanging the New Garden Gate

My PVC gates came out really nice if not perfect. However I did forget some basic planning. How to hang them.

The PVC pipes are round and covered with wire. The gate posts are round. Two of them are metal. Most gate hinges are flat.

Chain link gate hinges are round. I went looking. These hinges must be put on before the gate is completed. My gates are completed.

Regular hinges are probably not strong enough to hold up this gate. A bit of physics shows the length of the gate increases the force on the hinges.

You can see this effect by filling a gallon or half gallon bottle with water. Lift it with your arm bent so it is close to your body. Then lift it with your arm out straight.

strap hinge

One nice thing about using a strap hinge is that the gate can open either way. Well, the hinge can work either way. I have a back post for the gate to attach to. That’s the next challenge: How to hook the gate firmly closed.

So I checked out gate hinges. These have a strap side with a ring at one end. The other piece is a bolt or screw with a peg the ring fits on. These are strong.

My PVC gates are 2 inch pipes. One gate is 1 1/2 inch pipe. Most of these strap hinges are a foot long. The set weighed more than the gate!

Finally I found some small versions. It took a month or so but I finally had the hinges.

I forgot the bolts. Another week went by and I finally had the bolts.

The strap parts went on the top and bottom rungs of the gate. This required drilling holes.

marking hinge placement

A strap hinge works best if it is put on straight. A pencil marks on PVC pipe well so the holes go in properly.

PVC pipe is round and smooth. The drill bit skittered off. The solution was to use a hand drill to make some small holes the big drill could use as a starting point.

holes in gate

PVC pipe seems hard and solid but is easy to drill a hole in if the drill bit stays in place. Doing a starting hole lets the bit have a place to start.

Next the lag bolts had to go in the gate post. This was metal, round and smooth. No hand drill was going to work.

hinge on pipe

The bolts must go all the way through the PVC pipe. The hole should be barely big enough. A hammer is useful to tap the bolt into place.

First the gate was held in position and the bottom hinge was marked on the post. The gate is set aside until the lag bolt is in place.

There is something called a tap. It looks like a long round tapered hunk of metal. The small end is put against the metal post. A hammer is used to tap it putting a small dent in the metal gate post.

Impatience would dictate using the large drill bit next. Mistake. The next step is a small drill bit making holes all the way through the post. Then the big bit is used to enlarge the holes.

Finally the bolt is in place. The gate is set on it so the placement of the top hinge can be marked. Marking both hinge placements at first leads to the top one being wrong later.

The top lag bolt holes are drilled. The bolt is put into the post. The gate is set on the hinges.

garden gate

The gate has big wire areas so the garden is easy to see something the chickens find frustrating as there must be a way inside. There better not be.

My first garden gate is now in place and in use. It is so strange to have it there.

The gate looks nice. The chickens wonder why they can see into the garden but can’t get in. I can swing the gate open easily.

One gate is up. The other two will be soon. Then I can enjoy going in and out of them. It will seem strange to get in and out of the garden so easily.

Morning Glories

My father complained about growing morning glories one year then pulling them up as weeds for the next ten. Everyone laughed.

Morning glories are lovely flowers. Since they are vines, they can grow on garden fences dressing them up with color all summer. Garden catalogs have lots of colors to choose from.

purple morning glory

In the shade a purple morning glory has more of a blue cast but the deep pink of the center remains.

I don’t know where my morning glories came from. I didn’t buy any seeds or plant any I know of. One year two morning glories appeared in my garden.

One is a deep purple with pink throat. The other is smaller and powder blue with a white throat.

blue morning glory

Although small, a powder blue morning glory is lovely to look at with its pure white center.

The purple morning glory is much more aggressive. One year the blue one seemed to disappear, overwhelmed by the other one.

Now the two seem to have definite areas. The purple one grows on a short trellis near the bamboo and on the back fence competing with the wild grape. The blue one is on the south side fence.

blue morning glory

Dew still makes fine water beads on this blue morning glory.

Both are covered with flowers in the early morning. Hot sun withers the flowers by noon.

Several insects love visiting the morning glories. Honeybees and bumble bees are among these. Other garden crops such as beans and okra are not as attractive to the pollinating visitors so the morning glories earn their space.

My father was right. Morning glories are persistent.

Most of my garden is heavily mulched to discourage weeds. Morning glories are not deterred popping up through four to six layers of straw.

We have reached a compromise on my part at least. Morning glories are allowed within six inches of the trellis or fences. Vines are welcome on those areas but not on gates. Any other morning glory seedlings or plants are pulled up as weeds.

purple morning glories

The sun makes these purple morning glories glow but will finally make them wilt.

The morning glories come up everywhere hoping I won’t notice them. A few escape notice for a time.

Like the chicory, evening primrose and lamb’s quarters, morning glories will grace my garden every year in spite of the constant battle over how many are acceptable.