Of Mice, Fridges and Men

Finally, “That” blog post.

Hi All,
Firstly, don’t faint, it’s a blog post from narf7! Yes. A real blog post finally. I am not going to mutter any of those vague excuses as to why I haven’t posted. I just haven’t…but here I am back again with a brain full of things to post. The first half of the year has been a whirlwind of study and ensuring that we pass this year. Things are going really well in that department and what was so much gobbledy-gook last year makes perfect sense this year. We also have more girls/women in the class this year and the male confraternity are in the minority. It is amazing to see how very different a class can become with an injection of new people. This year most of the class are interested, invested and “there”. We have a vibrant community of people who want to design, to create and to learn as much as they can which fosters a really good class community of like-minded people who share what they are learning and anything that they find that might help. SO much different to last year when I felt the need to bring as much cake as I could to fill the gap that my complete lack of understanding about the subject matter brought to the board. I have only brought cake once this year and that was to yesterday’s morning tea to farewell the first half of the year and welcome our school holidays.

Image of car that looks like the Batmobile in the 2016 Launceston Tasmania floods
Even Batman got caught out in our recent flooding event.
Me feeding the hungry with some of the political propaganda we have been inundated with prior to yesterdays Australian Federal Election. The recipient was MOST happy with the results. Always good to find somewhere to stuff unwanted items...
Me feeding the hungry with some of the political propaganda we have been inundated with prior to yesterdays Australian Federal Election. The recipient was MOST happy with the results. Always good to find somewhere to stuff unwanted items…

That brings me to the next phase of Serendipity Swamp (don’t ask…) and the promised Sanctuary redevelopment. We had to wait until we had a few spare weeks to get this project underway. We also had to collect the required amount of fridges. Yes, fridges, from the tip shop. “Fridges?! Has the women gone mad?” No, not yet, BUT I have found a way to significantly reduce the amount of water that we use in the vegetable garden each growing season and which is going to completely change the way that we grow our veggies here on Serendipity Swamp (Farm). Ok, the “swamp” bit refers to the amount of rain that we have had here and what it has done to the soil and our driveway. I refuse to complain about it as we had it SO very dry over summer but occasionally, when I am holding onto a gate post to stop myself from performing a magnificent narfish version of the splits I must admit to being a wee bit muttery under my breath…

Wood pile and block splitter with chooks
Our most precious resource at the moment that we split and move in wheelbarrows up to the deck to keep it dry.
Stone steps with a small waterfall running down them
Say what I might about my dad’s “craftsmanship” when he made these steps, I have to admire their ability to turn into a small waterfall at the slightest deluge
Water at the base of stone steps
And look, there is even a pond at the bottom (sigh)
Gate with mud
And don’t even get me started on our back gate…

Now, back to the main event. That garden! Stevie-boy and I have had a really bad cold. He is just recovering from his, after 9 weeks of hacking and wheezing. I have had it for just over a month but I seem to be recovering a bit faster than he has. Hopefully we will be back in our prime for next week’s start on the veggie garden reno but even if we aren’t, it will be “full steam ahead” as we don’t have another window of opportunity like this one for the rest of the year and we NEED to get this underway so that we can have it all set up and ready for planting out come spring. Now to a bit of back history…(consider that wibbley-wobbley like visuals for “going backwards” into the past OK?)

One of the feral cats on our property
We seem to have ended up with 5 “regular” feral cats on our property. They are all male bar one small female and we have decided to tame the female till we can catch her and take her to the vet’s to be spayed. We are then going to accept the feral cats as part of Serendipity Farm sans kittens. They do a great job of clearing out the rats, they are actually scared of our bolshie chooks and don’t touch them and as you can see, they are getting quite tame.
Farmyard feral cats eating tuna
Here are our “feral” cats eating a tin of tuna. There is one large male who looks after them all and the whitest one is the female that walks up to us and takes food from our hands. Steve can stroke her and soon we will catch her and take her to be spayed.

Sanctuary is my summer sanity. If I didn’t have somewhere green to go in summer I would probably start to dry out, turn brown and blow away just like everything else does here by February. As someone who was born an optimist, I can’t allow my husk to dehisce, so I had to find a way to reconcile the ENORMOUS amount of water that is inefficiently poured into Sanctuary each year in order to feed the whiteflies in the manner to which they have become accustomed. I got up at 3.30am and headed off to water the garden at 4.30 till 6.30am when I woke Steve up and we headed out to walk the dogs before TAFE. For 2 hours I speed watered Sanctuary and by the time I turned off the water and started racing for the door I could see the water seeping down the slope and knew that by that afternoon the top beds would be bone dry again. Our whole property is on a steep slope and as you may (or may not) know, water likes to pool at the bottom of slopes and is averse to staying put halfway up. Every day I would feel enormous guilt about how much water I had to use to sustain my little green bit of sanity but I wasn’t ready to give in and give up. I HAD to come up with an idea for how to efficiently water Sanctuary and use less water as Tasmania is now prone to drought in our summers and this is only going to get worse with global warming so “How to reduce water use and water more efficiently?”

Pelicans just over from our front gate in the Tamar River Sidmouth Tasmania
Steve took this photo of some pelicans who have set up shop just over the road from our front gate.
Zombie free re-vegetation zone
We took the dogs for a walk over at Beauty Point a few weeks ago and noticed this revegetation notice. Obviously dogs can romp around on the newly planted grass but NO zombies…

Well enter Bev from https://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/water-wicking-boxes/  and John http://joharthash.blogspot.com.au/ who taught me about a concept called “water wicking garden beds”. I have alluded to this premise and we have even dabbled in water wicking by turning dad’s old yacht dinghy (that I ran into in the car and put a hole in) into a strawberry bed. This was the ONLY garden that didn’t need daily watering in Sanctuary, in fact, it could go without being watered for a week thanks to a large reservoir of water held in situ in blue stone chunks at the base of the boat. I can check the level of the water through a length of plumbing pipe that we buried vertically in the mix and the water level is easily ascertainable by looking into the pipe. I keep a pot on the end of the pipe as I don’t want mosquitoes breeding in there.

I knew that I wanted to find a way to convert Sanctuary to water wicking. I headed off to find tutorials about how to do it and ended up back where I started, and even more depressed because the cost would be prohibitive due to the amount of plastic, rocks, soil, pipe etc. and the most expensive part would be the surrounds. As penniless student hippies, we have had to rely on our wits and our ability to problem solve to find ways around paying out for what we want to do here. I had to go back to the drawing board in a serious way to work out how to do what I wanted to do without turning the moth eaten sock under the bed inside out and having to rehome an entire generation of moths…

How to do it? I had NO idea. That was when my old friend Google came to the rescue. I typed in “cheap water wicking beds” and about 7 pages into my search (I am nothing if not persistent…) I happened upon a story about a couple in Perth, Western Australia, who had turned some old fridges into water wicking beds. Perth is very hot and dry in summer and if anywhere needed waterwise gardening techniques it is Perth! The couple said that fridges were perfect for the purpose as aside from being cheap to get hold of, old fridges offer a nice deep space when turned on their back that allows for a decent reservoir of water to be held and thus, less time spent watering due to less evaporation of water from the soil. Efficiency, thy name is “fridge!” So Stevie-boy and I decided to work out the logistics of how we could use fridges to facilitate what we want to do.

http://salvageart.org/2016/01/13/how-to-make-a-wicking-bed-from-an-old-fridge/#comment-22

24 discarded fridges to be used for water wicking beds
Here is the beginning of our fridge wicking empire. We had just unloaded the 24th and final fridge ready for transformation.
Fridge wicking bed image 1
All of the fridges that we ended up with are different. Some have less work to do on them, some have us performing calisthenics in order to render them ready for our purposes. You can see how much room there is in a fridge and when you flip it onto it’s back, the potential for growing veggies is excellent. Much more space than a regular raised garden bed and plenty of room for a water reservoir at the base. The thick pipe in the foreground of the image is water pipe and our friend has generously given us as much as we like for our project.

I remembered seeing fridges lined up at our local tip shop and so we headed off to the local tip shop to see if we would be able to purchase them and if so, how much they wanted for them. We had a heck of a time convincing the tip shop man about what we wanted to do with the fridges but after we explained (twice) he finally got it and told us that we could have the fridges for $3 each. Over the course of the next few months we assembled 24 fridges in various stages of decrepitude. Some of these fridges were most probably in action prior to my birth back last century and some are so new they still had the stickers on them but all of them were currently defunct and ready for action. We had to strip out the shelves etc. and some have more holes inside them than others but we have our fridge potential and we will be spending the rest of this week sealing them up and assembling the blue-stone chips to fill up the reservoir section of the fridges ready for shoveling the soil out of Sanctuary’s garden beds and into the lines of fridges.

Fridge wicking bed image 2
As you can see, there are holes in some of the fridges where various components have been removed to give us the maximum space for gardening. Earl spends a good amount of time unstuffing stuffed toys and we finally found a use for the skins. I keep the stuffing for making crochet toys with and the skins make perfect fridge wicker hole stuffing
Fridge wicking bed image 3
Over the top of Earls dehusked toy skins we squeeze a fair amount of silicone and then top it with a piece of thick pond plastic (also donated by our generous friend Guy 🙂 ) We then silicone all around the edge of the plastic thickly in order to form a waterproof barrier. We need the lower 20cm of the fridges to be water tight to hold the water reservoir required to make these fridges useful to our purposes.
Fridge wicking bed image 4
It aint fancy, but its cheap and fingers crossed, it will do the job.
Fridge wicking bed image 5
Next we have to measure where we want to put the overflow pipe for the fridge wickers. Without an overflow pipe, the beds could fill up with water and kill the plants inside. This pipe ensures that excess water flows out of the bed. We have a clever idea about how to collect this water and recycle it. I will share it with you when we install it in Sanctuary.
Fridge wicking bed image 6
Steve using a very large drill bit to drill the overflow holes.
Fridge wicking bed image 7
We found some old black 13mm irrigation pipe that had been used for irrigating the garden and that we kept when we disconnected it (the greater garden fends for itself here now) and decided to recycle it to make the overflow pipes.
Fridge wicking bed image 8
We only need a small portion of the pipe inside the fridge wicker and we sealed around the inner and outer pieces where they intersect the holes with more silicone.

I have already thought about the aesthetics of this garden. I don’t want to be greeted by mouldering white goods every time I open Sanctuary’s door, no matter how waterwise and verdant they are, and so we cleverly kept the back grills of the fridges and are going to turn them into the fridge equivalent of a picket fence in front of the first (visible upon entry) line of fridge wickers. I will be using the rest of the space on either side of the wickers (as they shall from now on be called to save my typing finger) to plant out with perennial herbs and at either end of each line of wickers, we will have a keyhole garden or a small pond to take advantage of the thermal mass of that big line of garden.

Fridge wicking bed image 9
As we finish completely siliconing up the fridges and inserting the overflow pipes we move each fridge out to the side of the shed and turn it upside down to dry. They have a nice view don’t they?
Fridge wicking bed image 10
Some of the fridges have two individual compartments. This requires us to add 2 overflow pipes but allows me to consider putting perennial plants like currants or blueberries in this freezer section.
Fridge wicking bed image 11
Some of the fridges are as old as Methuselah and have a lot of metal on the exterior. Steve’s drill bits had some serious hard work to do
Fridge wicking bed image 12
One of them didn’t make it…
Fridge wicking bed image 13
I did give Steve the option of me “adjusting” this image but he said “use it, I don’t care how I look”. I will attempt to redress his current appearance at the end of this post ;). This fridge had both fridge AND freezer combined. It offered a very large possible garden area but was a HUGE pain to prepare. Here Steve is removing the freezer door after already removing the fridge door.
Fridge wicking bed image 14
We are attempting to be clever with as much of the material that we are removing from these fridges as we can. We are saving the veggie bins, the shelves etc. to use and some of the really old fridges had excellent enamel water pans in the base that will be reused as baking trays. It is interesting to see how fridge construction and materials have changed through the years. One of the older fridges actually had a full sized light globe in it!
Fridge wicking bed image 15
Showing you the size of this fridge/freezer combo when all of the extra gear was removed from it. I think Steve is a bit over gutting fridges don’t you? He is currently playing dead to get out of doing any more 😉
Fridge wicking bed image 16
We have 11 completed fridges, 6 drying off, undercover, in the shed, and ready to seal and 7 still to gut prior to prepping them as of when we finished for the day yesterday (Saturday).
Fridge wicking bed image 17
One day Steve will get his shed back. He has a “thank-you” spoon to make for Lissa when we finish all of this wicking!

The benefits far outweigh the negatives in this situation. Anything can be made more attractive with a bit of clever thinking and so I don’t care that there will be 24 upended fridges lined up in rows in Sanctuary. I have plans to buy chest freezers to line the sides of Sanctuary and plant out dwarf fruit trees (in particular citrus) and to make Sanctuary even more impervious to predation but for now, we have our 24 initial fridges and will be setting out excitedly (and with some trepidation, as moving 24 fridges over hilly, rocky terrain isn’t ANYONE’S idea of a fun way to spend their holidays…) to shovel out the slippery slopes that currently house my summer sanity. We ended up paying $2 for most of our fridges and by the time we got to the end we were getting three for $5. We are doing the tip a favour as they have to pay someone to haul the fridges away and thus, their bill this quarter will be significantly less than what it was last quarter. We are reusing something that would otherwise go back into the chain of production and that can only be a good thing. I keep thinking about all of the excellent potential of our fridge wickers. Here are some of the good things I have assimilated: –

1. The fridges, when installed, will be higher than current garden beds so not as much bending involved.
2. When assembled, a row of fridge wickers will hold significant thermal mass which will be good for both the plants growing inside them, and plants we choose to plant next to them.
3. We can run a series of hoses directly to the water fill pipes on the fridges and could theoretically fill them automatically by using a timer. “SQUEE!”
4. We can install worm tunnels into each garden bed but John  has said that he doesn’t think this will be necessary.
5. By elevating our garden we will be minimising the problems of gardening lower down and it should (theoretically) be easier to protect them from pests or at least treat them organically.
6. It will be harder for the local rat population to scale slippery fridges and easier for us to install rat bait stations should they ever try.
7. We will have a significantly lower water bill and more importantly, we won’t be wasting water inefficiently watering a large garden.
8. We may actually be able to collect all of the water that we need to water Sanctuary right through summer in a series of water barrels over our wet winter period.
9. No more 2 – 3 hours a day spent watering Sanctuary and no more guilt! I will still have to hand water a small area of perennials that will remain in the soil (berries etc.) but I can set up an automatic watering system for this area until we can figure out how to make it more water efficient.
10. Time saved in daily watering is less stress for me, more time to walk the dogs earlier in the day so less stress in having to race back and get ready to head off to TAFE.

I am guessing I could probably add 10 more reasons easily and probably another 10 with thought to why this is a GREAT idea. I know there are drawbacks including soil fertility etc. but I know that we can get around these problems and that these gardens are going to save my sanity as well as give us the best chance to garden effectively and efficiently in our terrible rocky, silty and sloped conditions.
So there you have it. I have revealed what we are going to do. I have also reinstated my childhood habit of having my nose welded to a good book and have been hooking up a storm. Add TAFE studies into the equation and I have filled those blog free months to an elegant sufficiency. Sorry to have been AWOL for so long but you know how it is. Now I have to go and find/take some photos to populate this post and make the length of it worth your effort ;). Cheers for staying with me folks. Sometimes you have words and sometimes you don’t. My words are back for the duration and I will be sharing the progress and process of how to move, install and wick a fridge garden over the next few weeks.

Finally, I had to redress the "casual" Steve image with a final image of Steve and his guitar in front of the green screen at TAFE. We weren't ready for this photo shoot and thus you won't see ANY of me (I have them hidden away) but Stevie-boy tends to look OK in most photos (present blog post excluded ;) ) so here he is in all of his charming musician glory.
Finally, I had to redress the “casual” Steve image with a final image of Steve and his guitar in front of the green screen at TAFE. We weren’t ready for this photo shoot and thus you won’t see ANY of me (I have them hidden away) but Stevie-boy tends to look OK in most photos (present blog post excluded 😉 ) so here he is in all of his charming musician glory.
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32 Comments Add yours

  1. I was so excited to see a post from you drop into the email that poor Siddy is still waiting for his morning walk and I’m still in my jamies……. I had been wondering where you were and what was going on – you know I’m never on fb unless I’m tagged in someway and my own blogging hiatus is stretching on and on ………

    What a wonderful plan you two have cooked up. I am delightedly befuddled by your ingenuity, energy and sheer exuberance for making an environmentally sound change to your little piece of heaven. I understand from your descriptions what and why and how and think you are very clever! Can’t wait to see pics of the progress and I know that as time rolls by the ugliness of fridges will disappear beneath the verdant lusciousness that is Sanctuary. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Sanctuary and paint lol. Thank you Ms Pauline, for still following my blog. I realise that it’s been a while since I last posted (if I was Catholic I would feel the need to cross myself right about there 😉 ) but I had a lovely rest and Steve and I are almost over the flu now and our fridge empire is stacking up nicely. In my next post I will show the deconstruction of parts of Sanctuary and the quagmire that it has become. Most probably I will also show Earl, delightedly frolicking with mad abandon as he hasn’t been into Sanctuary in months. Earl says “Guv Suddi a pad fur mee pliz”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Siddy, who will take a pat from anyone, any time, is most pleased to accept this from Earl. I’m enjoying being able to follow your progress, no matter how randomly it is recorded 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. narf7 says:

        Sometimes random is more fun than regular 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. foodnstuff says:

    Well. Done. You. (and Steve, of course). I am gob-smacked! I can’t imagine what 24 fridges all together would look like. So many good points to what you’re doing……Less water used. No getting up at 4.30am to water. Rats can’t climb up the sides (loved that one!). You seemed to be able to grow a huge amount of stuff on the old Sanctuary, but this one will be a doozy!

    Good to see a post from you at last (and thanks for the blog link).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      No problemo my waterwicking guru. Any time I can direct some traffic to your most awesome blog I will :). I just checked my potted turmeric as the leaves are dying down and saw nice fat tubers! I will save them to plant out in a wicking bed in the growing season. Same goes for oca. I grew them in pots on the deck (didn’t stop the possums from hoovering down the foliage but it did stop the rats from eating the tubers) and placed the pots high up on a bench to make it harder for the rats to get to (and Earl to pee on) and I noticed that oca tubers were growing from the trailing foliage! Very interesting plant and I have just found out that they contain a compound that prevents fusarium wilt in tomatoes and so they make an excellent companion plant around the base. They grow really well in pots so if you like them, might be the best way to grow them. Cheers for all of your help Bev and its only due to people like you and John (and that anonymous couple from Perth) that I was able to even contemplate doing what we are doing now. 🙂

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  3. Yay, you’re BACK! Fantastic! 🙂

    (Actually this is my favourite of all the posts you’ve ever written. )

    Your fridge idea is utter genius but my goodness, you guys don’t shy away from hard work! Please can we have stage-by-stage photos of the whole process? (Because obviously, you have nothing else to do with your time than feed the Internet…) Seriously though, I hope this transforms the way you cultivate and makes your summer mornings MUCH easier.

    By the way, are dew ponds an option where you are?

    Thank you for sharing all the photos, kittens definitely included. I hope the waters are at last receding so you don’t have to perform too many more Nar-FISH watery gymnastic feats.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Its raining as I type this which means that I am very glad that we decided to remove the doors and gizzards from the rest of the fridges and turn them upside down yesterday. We are off to the city to pick up a pile of old bricks that we left at our girls house when we moved away (and that I am quite sure they never thought that we would take away) to use for the purposes of leveling the fridges in situ in Sanctuary. I plan on taking as many photos of the process as I can because I am hoping that people out there, who feel that a lack of money might be preventing them from being able to grow their own food (or a lack of water or too much heat, this process is for all of them) can see that there are an enormous amount of ways to skin a stuffed toy (and Earl could write a book about it) and that if you sniff around long enough on the internet, you can usually find someone out there who has blazed a trail in the general direction that your brain is taking you. I have vested a fair bit of last year in working out the pro’s and con’s of doing this and so far, the main “con” is that it won’t be (initially) very pretty. That is a challenge! I wonder if anyone has ever yarn bombed a veggie garden? 😉 Dew ponds really interest me and I found a series of pdf’s about them not so long back. If we could scrape out enough soil from the rocks to make a sort of disc shape we might have a go at it. The idea is still floating around at the back of my mind so watch this space. Till we finish the wicker project and get the system up and going (and add the chest freezers to the equation but don’t tell Steve about that as he may just faint 😉 ) I am not letting my mind wander anywhere else 😉

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  4. What a brilliant solution to your watering problem. It looks as though it will work beautifully – and you are using something that would otherwise be discarded.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Why thank you Ms Materialgirl. It’s initially a bit of hard work but I find that when you throw yourself into something, you tend to feel part of the process much more than handing over a fist full of dosh (which isn’t an option for we penniless student middle aged hippies). I am glad you liked our idea. My series of blog posts about it will hopefully inspire fellow penniless student hippies (etc.) to take up their unwanted fridges and go forth and grow! I love the sustainability option but the not having to go out at 4.30 to water the garden for a few hours every day has merit as well ;).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely to see a post from you and I’m intrigued with this huge project you’re undertaking. Will be interesting to see how it progresses! Hope you’re both back to full health by now 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, now this post surely makes up for the lack of them. I really enjoyed your photo’s of your new project Fran. What a great way of conserving water, and I can see the enthusiasm you both have for this.
    Sorry to hear about all the flooding recently, we too in the UK have had more than our fair share of rain in the month of June. It now no longer rains, it pours like a water fall. And our drive is on a slope, thankfully when we had it redone we asked them to put a drain along the length at the bottom. Which goes into the grate system. If we hadn’t the drive would not cope and it would gush down to the garage. So I know how those steps turn into waterfalls.

    I am pleased there are more women on your course this year, makes and happy less cake was needed :-). And good those feral cats are about they will certainly help with rats and mice. And a tin of tuna! The world will travel fast lol and good thinking about the female and hope you can catch her.

    My Dad when we were kids caught a proper ‘wild cat’ kitten, she was a true tabby with all the right markings. She was splayed and turned into the most beautiful loyal cat ever. How are they around Earl? Also loved the guitar photo. Still learning mine. 🙂 slow but sure..

    Xxx Loved your post Fran. Thank you for your visit too my friend Hugs Sue xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      The feral cats all came from a pregnant female that someone dumped on our property :(. They are fine with Earl but Earl is NOT fine with them ;). They spend their time trying to move into the house and Earl spends his days making sure that they don’t. I will be documenting the process of our water wicking fridges so that anyone who wants to attempt to have a very waterwise garden on the cheap, can. We headed up to Sanctuary yesterday and lets just say, she made the waterfall look like a tiny dribble! We might be able to float those sealed fridges and paddle them into sanctuary the way it is going! ;).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds like you guys are getting lots of rain.. And I am looking forward to seeing all progress with the fridges.. 🙂 And I wondered How Earl was coping with the cats.. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy to get another peek into your wild, wonderful world! I was also starting to wonder what you were up to after such a long silence, so it’s always good to get an update. The whole fridge solution here is brilliant, and something I would have never been able to dream up. I just love it! Thrifty, efficient, and highly innovative- From you, I’d expect no less. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I saw something like this (with other containers) on an American site about a woman gardening in the desert. She used these kinds of techniques. It should result in MUCH less water usage in the summer and more time in my early mornings. We are thinking up ways to recycle any overflow water as well to make the system very efficient. I want to add small keyhole gardens at the end of some of the rows of fridges for herbs and strawberries and a few ponds at the other end for frogs etc. It’s a very exciting project and we just have to get it up and going now. The fridges are almost all sealed now and it is raining so much, and is SO wet here, we might be able to use the sealed fridges as boats and float/paddle to Sanctuary to install them 😉

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  8. Hahahaha no zombies….😃 I am a bit late to the party, but so glad to see you back lovely narfie! Loving your current projects and looking forward to seeing the fridges in situ.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I just have to find a way to make them attractive now. Back to my old mate Google 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Littlesundog says:

    I loved the “No Zombies” comment. You clever girl… always candid humor in your posts. Fran, what a brilliant idea with the old refrigerators. I am going to show this to Forrest, and I know we will be following your progress on this project. That very idea could be used here too. We have many of the same problems. And I really like the height being greater than that of simple raised beds. As we get older that bending over all of the time is a real misery! So many great benefits to this plan.

    I was so glad to see this post… it brightened my day. I’m still very blue about losing Zoe… but thoughts of Earl and the cats made me laugh. Poor Earl. Looks like he’ll have to tap into some real antics to keep those cats at bay!! ha ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I could write a children’s book about “Earl and the cats”. It would be sort of like Harry Potter but the protagonist would also be the antagonist ;). I am hoping that our crazy gardening idea will give other people ideas. Using old fridges not only saves money, but time, energy, water and a renewable resource that would otherwise most probably go to landfill here. I saw a fantastic article (that I just went hunting for and an hour later just got back to this post 😉 ) about a woman who was gardening in the desert using wicking beds that really inspired me. The beds are deep enough so that soil evaporation is minimal and you shouldn’t have to water more than once a week even in the middle of summer. Glad you liked our idea and hopefully it can be of some use to you and F.D. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Such a fantastic idea as well as a thoroughly entertaining post!! … now I have to get back to your link to the Perth couple .. that idea is absolute gold!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Solid gold at that. When you have difficult growing conditions this method of growing plants/veggies etc. is the most water wise and the cheapest that I have come across. We are currently slipping and sliding around Sanctuary (our fully enclosed veggie garden area) attempting to put the fridges in place. It is incredibly daunting as we are going for broke and installing 24 fridges rather than a couple. Our idea is you may as well start out how you mean to finish off! We are going to put the fridge wicking beds in place and let them get filled up to the overflow mark with water in order to see if they hold water. Any that leak can easily be sorted out then and it’s so soggy and wet, we can’t haul the blue stone chips we are going to use for the rock part of the garden beds up to the veggie garden. Its incredible to think that the quagmire that greets us every day at the moment, will be rock hard and dry as a bone in about 6 months time. Glad you like the idea and the Perth couple’s tutorial is excellent 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m really looking forward to how it all pans out – good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. narf7 says:

        Cheers for that. I will be happy if the rain can hold off long enough for us to get all of the fridges up and in place. We have snow forecast down to sea level for the beginning of next week. Thinking we may have to turn the fridges into sleds to get them in place 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  11. A belated Hi Fran, You and Steve don’t do things by halves! More hard, physical work. Will you be mounting the fridges on metal legs so you won’t need to bend down so far? I look forward to reading your next post now I have finished this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      No, we won’t be bothering with metal legs. I think the fridges will have better thermal mass if they are in contact with the soil. When we actually “have” soil again that is, and not the quick mud that is everywhere at the moment. It hasn’t been this wet here in 3 years and we have little streams running down all of our steps 😉

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  12. Robbie says:

    okay, now I back tracked and read your story about the fridges. What a problem solver you two are!!! I get it and it sounds like a great solution to your situation. I like the key-hole idea around the fridges. You won’t see the white but have gardens around them. really cleaver. I can’t wait to see what this looks like.
    I am stunned at how you took 24(?) and did all that work. they must be heavy? The part I love best ( besides only 3.00 a piece!)is you are recyclying and keeping these out of landfills. Why don’t we have places where they grow food in the city like this-this makes sense!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      You will have places like this as more and more people learn the value of growing food themselves. The fridge wicking idea is a great one for community gardening as it means that some of the onus of daily watering is lessened. You find that people are very keen to have a community garden right up till the time that they have to get involved on a daily basis. Fridge wickers (and other larger water wicking beds) mean that you can get away with watering once a week and when it’s not hot, once a fortnight! The water is steadily wicked up to the plant as it needs it. Drawn up by the plant roots, the results are less wilting, no surface evaporation (as you water down a tube to the base of the garden bed) and a lot less problems. You can toss worms into the enclosed cycle to help with soil fertility but these kinds of beds retain nutrients as they are not washed away and you don’t need to fertilise them much. Yup. 24 fridges. I wanted more but Steve said “just get the main lot and then we can cart a few at a time as you need/want them”. He is a wise man! Our garage and driveway looked like a used white goods saleyard for a while there. I have the idea to get those chest freezers next and make more wicking beds up the sides of Sanctuary where it is too dry to garden as the tree roots suck all of the moisture out. That’s another benefit, tree roots can’t invade a sealed garden bed, especially not a fridge! It’s a serious win-win all round, especially here where we have drought in summer. I was starting to think I had moved to California in my sleep by the end of last summer! 😉

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  13. Linne says:

    Finally dropping in for a minute. Love your idea of using fridges as wicking beds. Looking forward to seeing them in place and growing. My sympathies when it comes to the rain; we had plenty of that years ago on Vancouver Island; in the city, it’s not so bac, but in the country, it’s another story, isn’t it? I hope your spring and summer are a good balance of warm and dry for working with cool and damp for the green things and to give you a chance to rest.

    Tell Steve that when he took his break in the fridge, he should have had some vampire teeth to slip in his mouth . . . lol

    Hugs to you both and will send you some rain from BC once I get there. ~ Linne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Can’t wait to read about your new adventures Linne. It’s almost dry now so we can start thinking about hauling more fridges up to Sanctuary and that’s where the fun begins! 🙂

      Like

  14. Lrong says:

    What a great idea to recycle the fridges… would be nice to see some pictures of how they look like when installed in the garden…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      We are going to document the process. It keeps raining here and turning the soil to mush. When it stops (it is almost summer here!) we can haul the fridges into place and we are going to paint them to make them attractive in situ. I can’t wait to see how the system grows and starts to work. Thank you for visiting and taking a look Lrong 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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