Thursday, March 31, 2011

Removing Rock from the North Pit

We dug all the dirt out of the pit north of the raised bed, resulting in a trapezoidal hole 12 feet wide and between 11 and 13 feet long.

Now we need to remove the rock, so that the pit is deeper. At the shallow end, it is only about 8 inches deep; we want it to be about a foot and a half. This requires removing a layer of rock from the pit. We are assuming that, as with the rest of the yard, the rock in our yard is layered, and we can remove just the top layer or so to get the depth that we want.

On Thursday, we used the jackhammer to start breaking the rock up, using what appears to be a natural fracture running diagonally across the pit. This works pretty well, and in the first day's work, we extract two large rocks, and a big pile of smaller ones in the corner of the pit.

We still have to lift one of the big rocks out of the pit, separate the smaller rocks from the dirt and move the rocks and dirt out of the pit.

We spent all day Friday lifting the rock out of the pit and cleaning up. Then on Monday, we went back to breaking up the rocks with the jackhammer. Tuesday was (a) moving the rock around to the driveway, and (b) moving the dirt over to the dirt pile.

On Wednesday, we were able to just use the pry bar and grubbing hoe to loose the rocks and take them around front. After moving the dirt to the dirt pile (and mixing it with leaves), we had a complete ditch from one corner of the pit to the opposite corner.

Thursday, we used the jackhammer to break up the smaller corner and start on the larger one.

And Friday was just hauling all the rock out of the pit and out to the front of the house.

This left just the one corner with rock. Using the jackhammer, we broke it all up.

And we then took it around to the drive way, leaving us with a level, empty pit.

This took another week, so the rock extraction from this pit took about a month. As long as it is empty, we need to think about how to finish it off, before filling it back up with dirt.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

North of the Raised Bed

When I drove thru California, I stopped in Corning (Olive City!) and bought two new olive trees. I bought two olive trees over the internet back in February 2007, but one of those died. This seemed like an easy (and cheap) way to get back to having more than one. The suggestion is that you may need two to cross-pollinate in order to get fruit.

One of the new olive trees has been planted in the pit that I just excavated South of Linda's raised bed garden, which puts it near the just-moved Shin Oaks, and the first olive tree. It looked like the best place to put the second new olive tree would be North of Linda's raised bed garden. That way it would be close to the other two, but more or less out of the way. This area used to have an Asian Pear tree, but that didn't do well, and we took it out. So to start, this area is just grass.

First thing we do is remove the grass. It seems a shame to waste the grass, since it seems to be growing fairly well, so I'll try to take it up and transplant it to another part of the yard. In this case, I'll move it over the French drain, along the fence.

After the first day of digging, I have roughly half the grass removed.

To transplant the grass, I'm cutting down with the shovel, and then trying to take just the grass and maybe an inch or two of dirt for the roots, using the grubbing hoe, coming in horizontally just below the grass. Doing so allows me to peel off the grass and move it more or less intact.

Another day of work, and we have all the grass stripped off, and transplanted.

Now we can start digging the dirt out. As we do so, we encounter a fair amount of rock -- mostly loose rock of small to medium size -- no larger than a loaf of bread. The very top layer of dirt must have been put in with the grass; it's fairly good, clean dirt. But below that is a layer of construction debris and rocky, sandy from the house construction. We are finding pop-tops, some broken glass, wrappers, and even four foot sections of electrical wire.

Also chunks of asphalt. The asphalt is always the same thickness, about 2 inches thick, but is then broken up into random sized pieces.

Under this construction debris is the dark, heavy, native clay dirt. This can be harder to dig. When it is damp, it is heavy; as it dries, it becomes very hard. But we mix leaves in with it, and mix all the dirt -- the top layer, construction dirt, and the native clay -- mix all this up with the leaves and cart it off.

Because about 6 to 8 inches down, we hit rock -- the native limestone. It's fairly flat, but with some cracks and erosion. Once we get the the dirt removed, we will try to remove the rock.

The dirt that we remove, we are taking over to the area near the electrical box, where we were digging last. We'll pile it up there, and later, after the rock is removed, we'll bring it back.

Tuesday, more digging

And then Wednesday, more digging

And again Thursday, more digging.

Finally, on Monday and Tuesday, we finished with the digging.

The next step will be to start removing this bottom rock layer.

Summing up, it took 2 weeks to dig out all the dirt, separate the rocks and debris, for an area 12 feet wide and 11 to 13 feet long, from 8 inches to 24 inches deep. It's deep enough at the far end that I really don't need to remove any rock, but I do need to at the 8 inch deep end, and it's the ground that slopes, not the rock layer. The rock layer seems pretty level.