Author Topic: From Grasshopper to Ant  (Read 6648 times)

Offline theBINKYhunter

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From Grasshopper to Ant
« on: June 15, 2013, 11:45:09 PM »
You guys ready for a wild ride? A journey that spans years and encompasses physical and emotional losses and gains of immeasurable proportions? A timeless story of one man’s quest to change a landscape and create a future for himself and his family, regardless of what others thought or chose to do? Then strap yourselves in your seats. Grab a snack and a drink. Dim the lights and get ready to pick your jaw up off of the floor… and click this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0

;)

Now, let’s get down to business… for real. I found TSP last year around episode 850 or so. No joke the show changed my life. It made me realize that I needed to do some things differently and get serious about taking care of my family. I think my story was like many in that I woke up to what was going on and it freaked me out and had me thinking I needed to buy a bunch of stuff and hold onto it.

After finding and listening to Jack I realized I was not doing this correctly and I needed to become self-sustaining and self-reliant. The first big thing (for me) that I did was make a garden. Long story short my wife and I bought our home (smartly) as grasshoppers and now we’re both ants working towards a better future. Join me as I take you along the journey of this transition. I thought it would be great to show everyone what I’ve done and where I’ve come from, and how living in a damned HOA suburban cookie cutter neighborhood can be tolerable.

This is my backyard when I bought the house in 09:



Look at all that dirt! A blank canvas to shape into my own creation! And by God I’m not leaving it as dirt like my other lazy ass neighbors. I’m going to have a yard of beauty. I’m going to have a place for my kids to play! I’m going to be the entertainment sensation and envy of all other homes in the hood!

So this is what I ultimately did:



Wow. You talk about a waste of water! I didn’t even have fake grass; I wasted money on that Bermuda that I never played in with my kid because there is a park five houses down the road.

OK, so now let’s fast forward about three years. I found TSP and was blown away. I knew things had to change… but how? Hey, I know! Why not build a garden? I have plenty of space and irrigation already run for that grass that’s not doing anything for me. So I listened to a few gardening shows and read Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.

I made a list. I borrowed a truck. I destroyed the gardening section of my local home depot. I came home with this:



I must have been doing something crazy (i.e. right) because I had to check out twice. Those dinky flat carts couldn’t handle all of those cinder blocks and bags of soil/compost/mulch. In fact the lady checking me out commented ‘well aren’t you industrious’… yes ma’am I am.

So let’s build a garden bed! First things first, tap into my existing irrigation and get the drip set up, because I’m lazy and forgetful, a bad combination when trying to keep things alive. Thank God for my wife because I don’t know how my kids would be doing without her.

First we have to find the pipes:



Then we have to cut the one we need… and since none of them are marked I said a quick prayer to God and cut the one I thought it was:



And it was good! I got lucky and nailed the pipe I needed to, so no unneeded repairs for me (today)!

Now that we have our pipe running up let’s lay out the garden:



And now we need to break up some of that dirt and grass to allow for more soil depth:



In hind sight this was stupid and unnecessary. The only good thing it did was burn calories. I don’t think the amount of work I did to break up the ground was worth it.

Alright, now all of the grass is out and the blocks are in place:



Now it’s time to start my lower barrier. First I laid down a layer of roasted coffee chaff. This stuff is great because when it gets wet it forms a wax like sheet and really prevents stuff from growing.





Now let’s put some cardboard down to help the chaff keep the grass/weeds out. I wonder where those boxes came from? Remember you get a 10% discount as a MSB member!



While filling it up with soil the job foreman came over and fixed my blocks. Apparently they weren’t where they needed to be:



Now it’s full and I need to set up my drip. I cut the pipe and put a tee in for ½ inch tubing:



AWWW! My first garden soldier! Seriously I have probably fifty of these guys patrolling my house ever since I started making changes. I love them:



Now for the trellis, because why only have a 4 x 8 horizontal bed when I can also have a 6 x 8 soccer goal posing as a trellis?



Finished product:



OK, so that was round one. You ready for more? Go refill that drink, take a potty break and then get back here. We have more to cover my entertained viewer.

So now I’m all in, I’m sold on getting rid of this damned grass. I quit watering it months ago because it was a waste. I want this Bermuda gone. Casa de Warrior is officially at war with the Bastard Sons of Bermuda.

Step one was to get a bunch of free hay. I figure I’ll mulch all of this grass and smother it during the winter while it’s dormant. Come summer it’ll be gone and I’ll have a nice soft mulched yard to walk on… boy was I wrong. But come, let us continue the journey.





What I started doing was layering the ground similar to my garden. I have access to all the coffee chaff and burlap sacks that I could want. What I did was put down the chaff first, then cardboard, then burlap, then hay.










This last one is of my yard mostly covered, and look! Snow! In Tucson! It didn’t really stick, but I caught some on my tongue:



Here’s my winter crop looking pretty good (in my opinion) for my first go around. Now about this time my wife started asking me things like “how long is this hay going to be here” and “do you think I like having my back yard look like a farm?” I’m putting her ‘questions’ nicely.

Eventually she found out this was a long project and she started threatening me with… um… ‘sacrifices’ that I was going to have to make. Needless to say I made a few modifications and got the ball rolling to get back in her good graces ASAP.

Here I’ve put a second garden bed in. I plan on only having these two but I figure I can grow a lot with them.



I also put in some annuals in barrels that my wife really liked. Good graces, got it?



We also decided we wanted some trees to produce food. We bought a peach tree, lime tree, dwarf lemon, and a semi dwarf kumquat. Here’s my peach tree looking pretty while it bloomed (I’m not drunk, my wife didn’t warn me to put on the smolder):



Here is the hole I dug, good thing the tree was there because otherwise the neighbors probably thought I was trying to burry something… or someone. It was a big hole:



Here’s the other trees. Lime in the back, then kumquat, then lemon:



Here’s the foreman again. Apparently the rock rings I made for my wife’s ice plants weren’t good enough. He was spraying them down to ensure uniform color and cleanliness.



This is all various stuff I had growing or was waiting to be planted:



OK. Round two is over. Time for round three. What, think thought this would be over? Let me tell you, I go the distance. I’m in it to win it. Rest time is over. There’s the bell: DING!

So if you didn’t notice in the previous pictures all of the hay is gone. We decided to go ahead and get some rock as that would be the quickest and best cover for the ground. 12 tons later:











And here are pictures of the final product:

















And thus ends our magical journey. Remember what I started with:



And now I have this:



I have to say that it is pretty awesome to walk out into my yard and pick a fresh lime for guacamole or to be able to grab some peas and snack on them while I work on the garden. Last night we had rice pilaf with okra and zucchini, both of those came out of the garden.

If you’re new to this and don’t think you can do it, you can. I defeated the Bastard Sons of Bermuda to make this happen. I now have the garden and food producing plants I want. My wife has them too along with her pretty stuff. We have a nice open space for a social hang out with friends and family. Most importantly I now have a great yard to showcase to my neighbors to try and get them to wake up. I am looking forward to handing them some fresh picked food from my garden just because I can.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2013, 12:03:21 AM by thewarriorhunter »

Offline SloSheepdog

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2013, 12:12:11 AM »
Great post TWH, very cool yard. It's a lot of work and I'm still trying to get a handle of my garden space. Each year I try to improve and get better. Great job and thanks for sharing.

Offline Cedar

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2013, 12:29:24 AM »
Bookmarking this since it is near midnight and I want to read it again. Looks AWESOME though!! Good job there.

Cedar

Offline Skunkeye

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2013, 01:16:01 AM »
Great post, and even better yard transformation!

Most importantly I now have a great yard to showcase to my neighbors to try and get them to wake up. I am looking forward to handing them some fresh picked food from my garden just because I can.

This is one of the best side benefits of urban/suburban gardening.  It's such a great feeling when one of your neighbors tells you that your garden inspired them to start growing a small patch of herbs or a couple tomato plants or whatever.  Because nine times out of ten, once the gardening bug bites 'em and they get a little success under their belt, there's no turning back.  Many a grasshopper has started the transformation to an ant with just a couple basil seedlings or a bell pepper plant...

If you really want to kick someone in the butt and get them on the road to self-reliance, invite them over to your house when your peaches are fully ripe, and pick one and hand it to them right there.  A perfect tree-ripened peach is one of the greatest things that exists in the universe...  I'm pretty sure that anyone who eats one will demand their own tree immediately.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2013, 08:35:08 AM »
If you really want to kick someone in the butt and get them on the road to self-reliance, invite them over to your house when your peaches are fully ripe, and pick one and hand it to them right there.  A perfect tree-ripened peach is one of the greatest things that exists in the universe...  I'm pretty sure that anyone who eats one will demand their own tree immediately.

yup, i have a fig tree also that i forgot to mention (my original died so i have a cuttling i'm nursing along). that is what really sold me on doing this. my boss has one and let me tell you, fig newton has been lying to you! i was blown away by what a fresh fig tastes like.

d3nni5

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2013, 09:45:33 AM »
I've been working in my back yard every weekend since the weather broke.  The amount of work that goes into this is amazing.   Great job!   

I'm inspired, I'm getting an 8-10 week late start on my garden this year, but this has me thinking that perhaps I only grow a little bit this year, concentrate on readying my spaces for next year and using the summer to get it done.


Thox Spuddy

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2013, 05:54:08 PM »
You're an ambitious man! I was wondering about the block wall, would you be allowed to paint that? A mural perhaps? Could trellis' be placed against them, or anything to minimize the prison effect?

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2013, 06:36:00 PM »
That looks great TWH, good job.  And I like the thread topic, should make for some interesting posts. 

I didn't picture your home and/or neighborhood looking like this in my head (for some reason I thought you lived in Thailand from a previous post).

Offline Cedar

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2013, 07:44:51 PM »
You did alot of hard and heavy work there.. it looks quite lovely. You deserve to be proud of it.. and your little rock cleaning buddy too.

Cedar
- who spies an empty wall there and suspects it is screaming for some kind of edible plant to grow there... Belgian fence grapes?  ;)

Offline rikkrack

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2013, 08:32:15 PM »
Wow! I wish I had taken photos like you on my path. Thanks for sharing and will be back to re-read. You gave me additional ideas.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2013, 08:38:28 PM »
I've been working in my back yard every weekend since the weather broke.  The amount of work that goes into this is amazing.   Great job!   

I'm inspired, I'm getting an 8-10 week late start on my garden this year, but this has me thinking that perhaps I only grow a little bit this year, concentrate on readying my spaces for next year and using the summer to get it done.



i put my first garden bed in last august. it was late in the season but i planted anyways to see what would happen. i got one bean pod :D

the winter crop was OK and my summer crops are going crazy right now. even if you think it's too late i would start, if anything you're growing free mulch for when the plants die off.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2013, 08:42:14 PM »
You're an ambitious man! I was wondering about the block wall, would you be allowed to paint that? A mural perhaps? Could trellis' be placed against them, or anything to minimize the prison effect?

to answer you and cedar:

my goal is to make this yard 'elegantly/practically productive'. i'm hoping to eventually sell this home and get some land somewhere and really have some room to do things will. i don't see the point in painting the wall a plain color, and i think if i went the mural route the HOA might get involved or it would limit potential buyers.

that being said my wife and i are planning on putting some trellising vines on it next year. we spent enough money and time on it this year, i wanted to be done. probably next spring we'll get vines put up. it's a not of vertical space that is currently being wasted but i hope to change that over time.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2013, 08:43:43 PM »
That looks great TWH, good job.  And I like the thread topic, should make for some interesting posts. 

I didn't picture your home and/or neighborhood looking like this in my head (for some reason I thought you lived in Thailand from a previous post).

the organization that i work for is based in thailand and i know i've mentioned that before. i'm the office manager here in the US, but my other posts are probably where you got that line of thinking.

Offline PAGUY

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2013, 03:21:00 PM »
That is one hell of a job.  Congrats on the transformation.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2013, 03:59:00 PM »
That is one hell of a job.  Congrats on the transformation.

thanks! i put a lot of sweat equity into it. i am really happy with how it turned out. all of the positive comments on here are really rewarding.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2013, 07:11:16 PM »
What you did was awesome! Nice job!

Offline NCFreedom

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2013, 07:26:19 PM »
Awesome job man!  Very inspiring.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2013, 07:25:39 AM »
thanks all. the MIL was over last night so i plucked a couple of limes for her as well as some zucchini. sent her home happy.

Offline cohutt

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2013, 05:15:21 AM »
Nice conversion.
 
I am all too familiar with what happens when the switch is thrown to turn on a prepper brain lol.

I like the confidence of having all that rock dumped blocking in a vehicle.  I bet the supervisor kept you and the wheelbarrow moving that weekend.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: From Grasshopper to Ant
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2013, 08:05:04 AM »
Nice conversion.
 
I am all too familiar with what happens when the switch is thrown to turn on a prepper brain lol.

I like the confidence of having all that rock dumped blocking in a vehicle.  I bet the supervisor kept you and the wheelbarrow moving that weekend.

yeah, i hadn't thought about moving the car. once i realized it was blocked in i went 'uh oh'... good thing it didn't need to be used for a couple days. ;)