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don't know where this'un fits, so I'll put it here

labour is expensive

concrete masonry units

The concrete blocks we used were half the size of these

No I have not gone into labour, nor am I pregnant. I am referring to what a huge chunk of money goes towards in a landscape project done by a contractor. Conveniently, my parents don’t believe in contractors for “simple” projects, so we did it ourselves. My mom wanted to make a concrete block vegetable box that is 20×4 feet & 3 feet high. This is so that she doesn’t have to bend over as much (since she’s getting too old for that) and instead, sit beside it to do her gardening. The blocks are 22 lbs each, and since I’m the youngest, guess who does all the heavy lifting? I  have a new-found appreciation for labour cost, and completely understand why it is so friggin expensive. It’s hard work mang, and I only did it for 4 days straight. My back was definitely starting to hurt by the end, even though yes, I did use my legs to lift. 

I also have much more appreciation for all the unseen detail that must go into a project such as this. I honestly thought that all we’d have to do is dig up a bit of grass, throw down the blocks into a wall, and that would be that. What I found out is that you have to dig a hole at least 8 inches deep, pour in a (roughly) 4 inch layer of sub base (which is a mix of small rocks and sand), tamp that down so it’s flat, then pour in a thinner layer of sand, tamp that down and make sure it’s level. With both the sub base and the sand, my cousin and I (he came to help 2 of the days) had to shovel it into a wheel barrel (heavy stuff, both), and wheel it over to the pit, dump it out, go back, fill up another barrel-ful, dump, repeat x infinity (well… it seemed like it). THEN you have to put in rods at the corners with string connecting each to make sure you’re putting in the bricks straight. And as you put in each brick, you have to painstakingly add or take away sand to make sure it’s perfectly level (or else you’re gonna end up with a crooked wall). And then pour sub base into each brick of the lowest level to make sure it won’t go anywhere.

Whew. That’s a lot of steps. Suffice to say, one measly concrete vegetable box was a LOT of work. As of now, all that’s left to do is put in the capstones. But the stupid thing is that no one makes corner capstones (big anime sweat drop ala -_______-”””’). Hardware stores apparently think that they can get away with telling you to just use the linear wall capstones that do NOT fit over a 90 degree angle. So, we have to look for something to either a) cut our own corner capstone, or b) find a slab of concrete fits the exact proportions of our wall. Neither is very appealing. We also still need to fill up the box with more dirt; only have it half filled with the existing stuff. Gotta buy some fresh, nutrient-rich dirt for this new veggie box!

… conveniently, with my rolled ankle, I can no longer work on it heh heh heh… kidding! ..

Funny story about the dirt. My dad had set aside 2 garbage cans full of dirt a while back, and we decided to pour that dirt into the new veg box. So we upended the first one in, and found that at the bottom resided an entire ant colony. They were swarming everywhere. The dirt was riddled with their tunnels. So we were like KILL THEM!!! and promptly sprinkled borax over it (kills ants). And then my dad goes, “Um… are we sure we wanna do that… ant poison… we’re gonna be eating those veggies…” “CRAP! Get it out! Get it out!” *madly scrambling to shovel the ant colony back into the garbage can* … sigh…


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June 2011
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