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By Naja002
Posts:  246
Joined:  Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:57 pm
#115732
Hi Everybody,

Just wanted to share my current project with all of you. As Matt and Steve know, I've been buying up some VFTs. I need someplace to keep them all, and even though this may seem like a bit of overkill...I'm having fun with it anyway.

I kept CPs ~8-9 yrs ago for a couple, 3 yrs. Got out of it and into other things. I've always had a penchant for VFTs, so I've decided to get back into at least those. Getting setup just for the plants that I have received has been a lot of work and a lot of fun. I am and will be keeping them outdoors 24/7/365. I'm in zone 6b, and I prefer things to be as automated, or at least semi-automated as possible. So, enter my current project.

I'm a project/hobby kind of person. I like to think outside the box a bit. I've documented some of my other projects on the web, and I will link to some of them after this first set of posts. My current project is not finished...it's in progress. I still have to finish what I'm doing now, make it functional, automated it and then prepare for winter. However, I am ready to sit down and start the documentation on it. So, for those of you that enjoy following along on a project, come on, let's go for a ride... :mrgreen:

I'm not intending to let the cat right out of the bag, so ya'll will get to puzzle a bit about what exactly is going on here. :mrgreen: Some things really won't make much sense at this point, and, Yes, some things could be/have been done differently, but it is what it is and this is what I'm doing. :mrgreen: I would like to point out that this has grown from ~16 sq ft. to 56 sq ft...almost 4x larger. Gives me room to grow in the future... :mrgreen:

Day 1

First I needed to pick a spot that would get sun all day everyday. A spot that was somewhat level. So, after finally picking the spot, I got out the mower and cut the area down as low as it would go (1"?). Got out some tools, landscaping timbers and started to see what was involved with getting things level:

Image
The weeds in the background have already been sprayed with Cornerstone (like Roundup). All of that will be cleared with a trimmer and mower. Has noting to do with this project though. :mrgreen:


After I determined what was involved with getting things leveled, I got out the spray paint and marked the area:

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Moved everything out of the way and sprayed the area with 1/2 gal. of Cornerstone:

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Dug a little hole for future reference:

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Then I got out the miter saw and beveled the ends on some of the landscaping timbers. Got out the 6 mil plastic sheeting, laid it out, and got the initial wood set up:

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My sporty little hole in the ground :mrgreen: :

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Fastened the corners together:

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Just a quick note: The plastic sheeting stapled to the landscaping timbers is a non-issue. The grass will cover most of it when it regrows and the weedeater will damage and destroy what's showing on the outside...intentionally and unintentionally on my part. :lol:


I added a divider and started dumping in sand:

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Divider fastened:

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Another note: I bought 6 bags of the sand below. I used ~20lbs for VFTs. I do not know what all is in that sand, but there are blue chunks of slate, brown chunks of something else, and I have no idea how many gallons of water I went through trying to get the ppm down to a reasonable level. After a lot of rinsing, and then having to soak it for 24 hrs, 2 days in a row....I think I finally got it down to ~22ppm, which is much higher than I prefer. The sand that I had run out of, I got down to 5ppm without much fuss. So, personally, I do not recommend using this stuff in a potting mix:

Image


So, I dumped the rest of the sand in, cleaned up the mess and called it the End of Day 1. :ugeek:


.
Last edited by Naja002 on Mon Aug 08, 2011 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By Naja002
Posts:  246
Joined:  Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:57 pm
#115733
Day 2 begins...

I started off day 2 knowing that I did not have enough sand, and I was going to have to make a trip to Lowes. Lowes trips are 1 hr round trip, if I know exactly what I'm getting, get it and go. I'm in the country, so going into and through town during normal business hours is really not very enjoyable for me. :mrgreen: But it had to be... :roll:

So, I headed to Lowes for some more sand, landscaping timbers, ceramic tiles and some other stuff. 8 more bags of sand later:

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I thought that 3 bags would be plenty for the small area. Well, not so. I ended up swiping some from the larger area in order to complete placing the tiles in the smaller area:

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But I managed to get the tile placed in the smaller area:

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Got the larger area leveled with what sand I had. Got everything wet down and cleaned up a bit:

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Since I could not move any further, I got out the miter saw, beveled some more landscaping timbers, cut some more dividers and then put everything away for the day.


With the trip to Lowes and it being quite sunny and HOT...that was it for Day 2. There was actually a bit more involved in it then it may seem, but it was enough for 1 day. :ugeek:
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By Naja002
Posts:  246
Joined:  Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:57 pm
#115734
On to Day 3...

Again, I woke up knowing that another trip to Lowes was going to be required. :oops: Need -more- SAND! :evil: I work nights, so I normally hit lowes, HD, Walmart, etc on my way home from work. Little traffic on the roads, in the stores, etc. I can just get where I need to go, get what I need and go on about my life without having to fight the crowds, traffic, etc...so, again, trips into and through town during normal business hours are something I avoid like a plague! :mrgreen: So, do I do what I can, lose part of a day and get the stuff on the way home from work? Or, head into town? :cry: Well, the first option was approach-avoidance! Do what you can do! :mrgreen:

So, I went out there and started moving sand and placing tile:

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I had 3 or 4 broken tiles total in the 4 boxes that I bought. I used most of them for some "cut" pieces. This one I just placed as is...you'll see why it doesn't really matter later:

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So, now I was as far as I could go without heading to Lowes---off I went! :mrgreen: Needed more sand, another box of tiles, a tarp and some top soil. Shouldn't be too bad riiiight? :mrgreen: It wasn't. However, I knew that the dang hole in the ground was going to come back and bite me on the butt, so it had been weighing on my mind. I needed a solution before I completed this phase. I managed to sort one out--Thankfully! :ugeek:

So, when I returned from Lowes I placed my 6 paver bricks and started dumping sand and placing tiles:

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5 bags of sand later:

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I bought -another- 8 bags. Ended up using 7 total, but what is still in the white tub -that will be cleaned out- equals ~1/2 bag or so. All said and done I've used ~20.5 bags of sand. :lol: Maybe I should have left this project smaller as was originally intended! :mrgreen:

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^^^The pic above was at ~6:45pm, so the plants will get direct sunlight from early morning (~8-9am) until late in the evening.


Wanting to move forward a bit more...I got out 4 of the timbers that I beveled the day before and a divider and got them in place:

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^^^The tiles, etc are "leveled" or sloped toward the tub. Can't imagine -Why-, but they are! :mrgreen:


Got them secured:

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Checked the level all the way around:

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^^^Not too bad really considering the wood that I am working with. True level isn't necessary here, so it's turned out well enough. I took the level-sight apart to wipe out some condensation that had appeared so I could take the pic. Looks like I need to take it apart again and fix the one bubble.


I would like for the sand, etc to dry out a bit before I move on to phase 2 of this project. However, rain was predicted all day, all night and the next day (today). It did not rain until a little while ago this morning though. I decided that it would probably be better to cover the setup for now...until a few sunnier days arrive:

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Well, that's it for now, folks. I'll be back at it before too long. I need to bevel a few more pieces of timber, but it looks rainy all day today. So, I am in a bit of a holding pattern until better weather arrives. Plus I need to rest a bit and get some other things done before my week starts tonight. Plenty more to come and I'll update this as things move along! :ugeek:
Last edited by Naja002 on Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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By Naja002
Posts:  246
Joined:  Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:57 pm
User avatar
By Steve_D
Location: 
Posts:  3913
Joined:  Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:06 pm
#115756
Extremely interesting and puzzling (from an observer's point of view) project! Thanks Naja002 for the great photo essay. Looking forward to future installments, and the big "reveal" about what it all means and how it will work. :D
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By Naja002
Posts:  246
Joined:  Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:57 pm
#116201
Steve_D wrote:Extremely interesting and puzzling (from an observer's point of view) project! Thanks Naja002 for the great photo essay. Looking forward to future installments, and the big "reveal" about what it all means and how it will work. :D
Matt wrote:I have to admit that I'm very curious to see the end project. Very cool Naja002!
Thanx for the comments, guys. I can say that this is really nothing that you haven't seen before. At best it's just a variation on a theme. Overkill? Maybe, but I think it will offer me advantages that other options would not. We'll see on that! :mrgreen:

I would like to say publicly that you both do an Outstanding! job-->all the way across the board. From the rapid fire shipping, to the packing, communication, handling issues and definitely with the plants themselves. :!: I've thought for a number of years about getting back into CPs/VFTs...I'm glad I waited. :mrgreen:

Day 4

Well, I made a little headway today. Not a lot. ~3 hrs worth of effort...mostly cutting these wet landscape timbers. I skipped a step, but at this point it won't be a big deal to back track a bit. Got it up a few more levels:

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Sand is slowly drying out. Glad that I covered it before....there's been enough rain that it was worth the effort. Rain possible for about the next day and a half, so I cleaned everything up, covered it up and called it a day:

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I'll be back to it before too long. Need to make some choices/decisions, so there may be a short delay...maybe not. :ugeek:
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By Naja002
Posts:  246
Joined:  Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:57 pm
#116749
Day 5


Well, I got a little bit more done today. ~3.5 hrs worth, but ~1 hr of that was waiting.

As stated earlier, I skipped a step so I needed to backtrack a bit. I pulled the top 2 courses off of the setup:

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Dug the sand out of "the hole":

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Took the opportunity to reenforce the divider timbers a bit:

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Then broke out the 6mil plastic sheeting, cut and placed 3 layers:

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Then started filling it up with this good chlorinated hard tap water (~284ppm, Gh ~18, Kh ~14):

Image
Last edited by Naja002 on Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By Naja002
Posts:  246
Joined:  Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:57 pm
#116750
Waiting, waiting, waiting: :?

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After ~1 hr it was full:

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So, it was now time to start stapling it down:

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Wasn't sure that I was going to have enough time or light, but I managed to get it done:

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So, running out of time and light, I managed to get it covered for the night:

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End of Day 5. :mrgreen:

I realize that sun light is a major issue with this type of plastic. I have ideas on how to deal with it. As stated previously, I needed to make some choices/decisions. Well, I decided to continue on with this less expensive method. I'm really only looking for this plastic to hold up until late spring/early summer of next yr. If all is well overall....I'll dump a few $$$ into underlayment and pond liners.
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By Naja002
Posts:  246
Joined:  Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:57 pm
#116768
jht-union wrote:This is great...and cna't wait to see it finish! :)

I might copy your design...very neat! :)

Hey jht, Thanx for the comment. It may or may not turn out like whatever you may be thinking. :mrgreen: But that's the fun of sharing projects online...some get to enjoy/live vicariously, and ya never know when 1 person's idea(s) will spark new ideas for someone else. :D

Glad you've enjoyed it thus far. There's more to come!
By Naja002
Posts:  246
Joined:  Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:57 pm
#116859
Matt wrote:It's looking like it's going to be a nice-sized bird bath! :)

Shhhhhhh, Image they might hear you!
Image

Actually, there are plenty of birds around here of a number of different species. Up to this point, I am thinking they may be my only pests of concern. I've not had any issues :arrow: yet :!: , but ya never know when they are going to take a liking to something.

There are/were a couple of squirrels ~400' or so from here. IIRC, one of them wasn't quite fast enough crossing the road not too long ago. Either way, "they" live in a tree in front of a house and have always seemed to focus on that area. I've never seen them very far from their home, so I'm not expecting any issues from them.

I do have a few rabbits in the yard, but they seem quite content to just eat the grass. They have access to my VFTs currently...I've not had any issues from them yet. But I do have a .22 cal pellet rifle....Image I have no real desire to hurt them, so as long as they stick to their current menu....we'll all get along just fine. Image


If it was a few feet deeper, I think I would find it pretty inviting myself! :mrgreen:


But, alas, that hard 284ppm water was merely to help seat/settle the plastic so that I could get it stapled down. I ran out of time, so I just let it sit full for ~12 hrs. Fortunately there did not seem to be any leaks from the install. I didn't do much with it yesterday. Just got out a small pump and pumped all of that hard water out of there:

Image


Drainage turned out to be sufficient. What little water that remains should just help raise the local humidity. Image

Then I got it covered back up. A bit tired from work, etc. Have some other things to do...like get the grass cut :mrgreen: ....so it will sit for a bit. Need to pick up some more corner brackets, 1 more landscape timber...and I think that's it for now.

Back to the birds real quick: When all is said and done, I really hope, and don't think, that the water aspect of this will be inviting to them. The plants, media, etc maybe... :?:
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By ziko88
Posts:  268
Joined:  Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:57 pm
#117116
That looks amazing, I love to see people take on new projects and with such passion and determination. Bravo to you for all your hard work and I can't wait to see it finished.
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By Naja002
Posts:  246
Joined:  Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:57 pm
#117163
ziko88 wrote:That looks amazing, I love to see people take on new projects and with such passion and determination. Bravo to you for all your hard work and I can't wait to see it finished.
Hi ziko88,

Many Thanx for the comment! I, too, enjoy looking at, following and even participating in other people's project(s). It's one of the many things that makes the internet a wonderful thing! :D I've almost got most of the grunt work done, not yet, but almost! :mrgreen:


Made a bit more progress today. ~3+ hrs worth, most of which was cutting landscaping timbers. Image I think I am done cutting them to size. If you've never cut wet landscape timbers-->Oh, you just don't know what you are missing! Image

So, anyway, I think all of the landscape timbers are cut. I marked some spots that I needed to, and pulled off the top 2 courses again:

Image


This one needed double notched, the other only needed single (vertical) notches:

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Broke out the sander to soften the edges of the notches a bit. Put the 2 courses back on the project:

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Covered it up and called it a day. Image

May not seem like much, but a lot of time was off-camera cutting the timbers, plus these notches take a bit. I have 3 more timbers that I need to notch. Hopefully those will go a bit faster.

Slow and steady. Little here and a little there. I'll be glad when this phase is done. :ugeek:
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