“…And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game…”
-Robert Frost, Mending Wall
Sometime during my June spent digging up sod along our Back 40 (OK its really a back 12’), and lining our raised beds with field stone, I conjured up a terraced garden scheme to double the amount of cultivated space in my garden and make use of the slope up to the DOT Fence along I-94. Putting in timber seemed wasteful and railroad ties are so full of nastiness that they were never considered. The biggest hang up was not so much that I have never built a rock wall, but in the acquiring the rocks and their transport. Until proven wrong I will believe that I can build anything with the right tools and a book. So all summer I have pestered my more rural friends for sources of cheap (ok: free) field stone from a farmer they know-and I got several leads. So last week when we got the trailer I set a date for the stone hunt for this morning. Other than the incredible weight of stone: a cubic feet of stone is 100lbs and those corner stones are the better part of 2 cubic feet, this project was amazingly easy. I had prepped the ground with a very rough grade several weeks ago so today all I did was cut the wall footing out with a flat spade and then play some Real World Tetris. Total time from when we left the house this morning to the picture above was 6 hours-including drive time, lunch, and a few hours of gabbing with the buddy who gave me the stone. However, considering each stone was lifted by hand 4 times I doubt I will be able to move tomorrow. I had figured I would need to use mortar, but it turns out that rubble retaining walls are a breeze. If I had gone another course I would have probably mortared it for stability, but the clay I packed in should hold it. Next weekend I will do another run and terrace in the garden above this one, but the progress is heartening!
Filed under: Gardening