Meg Tilley Anderson BLOG

      "We've gotta laugh. We swapped immortality for accessories."
      -- meg tilley anderson

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

EASY GATES (Feb. 9, 2016)

I must be living right. I have friends who know how to do things I can’t do and tools and materials to make things happen (in the right season).

Brit, PieFace and Shotzee in Tiger Fountain Garden behind cattle panel gate.
This gate has 2" x 4" fencing so cats can't go through it,
and a fence post scrap on the edge to stiffen it so determined dogs can't bend it out and squeeze through.
The Gate
Our ‘quick’ solution to the gate dilemma is using sections from 52” tall, 16 ft. cattle panels made from 4 gage (3/16”) steel wire on a 6” h. x 8” w. grid. They stand up to any animal and are infinitely reusable. You do have to use a long bolt cutter or a saw to cut them. I lay the panel on the ground, set one arm of the bolt cutter on the ground and push down to cut it.   Gate widths should stay in the 8” or 6” module. I have screwed wood strips together to cover the pointy ends but that adds weight to the gate so it sags and slides off if you don’t watch out. We add 2”x4” welded wire fencing to the gates for cat excluders.

I got back to the project a few days later; finished packing the posts which were already quite stable.  I 'tacked'  deck screws to both gate posts to line up and hold up the gate before I added the hinges and catch. For hinges I folded a two hole pipe strap so the holes lined up (in a vice), slid it over the outside panel wire (the hinge 'pin') and deck screwed it in place using my battery screw gun. This gate is a little bent so the middle hinge is an opened strap for more wiggle room.

I took out the tack - screw on the catch side to test the hinge and see where the gate would land before screwing the catch in place. I made sure it swings shut and latches on its own. That was it for the day so I propped the gate open so nobody would run into it while the dog racing track was open.


I must be living right. I have friends who know how to do things I can’t do and tools and materials to make things happen (in the right season).

Burford Holly hedge behind Tiger Fountain
The south border of Tiger Fountain Garden is a dwarf Burford holly hedge.

Rotundafolia Holly and Althea shrub
There’s a Rotundafolia holly (named for the shrub’s natural round shape) around the corner to the east.
Burford Holly hedge and 'volunteer' under the hedge
Burford holly (in the background) has an oval leaf with a sharp point . Rotundafolia (in the foreground) has five sharp points on the sides and end of the leaf.  Every one of the seven volunteer hollies under the Burford hedge has Rotundafolia leaves. I always thought it was sort of a holly joke that all those seedlings favor the other parent but now I’m not so sure. 
Rotundafolia leaves and Burford leaves on same plant.
Wendell is getting clay off the clamshell digger as he digs  a posthole in background.
Wendell and I thought the plant we removed was one of those joke hollies because it had Rotundafolia leaves as far as we could see under the parent holly. When we moved it we saw, eight feet up at that the top, only  Burford holly leaves!  One of these days we’ll transplant those seedlings and one of these years we’ll see if they all change into Burford holly.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


I must be living right. I have friends who know how to do things I can’t do and tools and materials to make things happen (in the right season).

The Tiger Fountain Garden gate posts were all wrong and a holly was in the fence line so I brought in my friend Wendell Yoakum the genius gardener.  
Post packer label should stop folks
from throwing out the warped 6 ft. board.
(Fence stretcher board is on the right.)  
The bend in the post packer helps
keep knuckles away from the post.
Small enough to fit in the hole and
 big enough to compact the soil, it's
a 5/4" x 2 1/2"deck board strip.
The gate hinge side already had a post, but it was too skinny. A big post nearby was redundant; two posts to move. I’d Googled ’pull up wooden posts’ and watched demos on YouTube.  They fastened things to the side of posts and used a fulcrum or jack to lift them. Wendell simply dug a post hole (clamshell digger) next to the post, wiggled it, and pulled it out!  Then we had an object lesson on the water table as water filled the bottom foot of the hole in less than a minute. We didn’t need a crystal ball to tell us things were about to get messy. That water wasn’t going to stay in the bottom of the hole when he deepened the hole and then packed the new post. There was gravel in the bottom from the first time we set the post.  Wendell set that aside to put back in first. When the hole was more than 3 ft deep (for the 9ft. post) he added gravel, put the big post in, added a little more gravel/mud and packed it with my official post packer stick, repeating until about six inches from the top of the hole. He stopped there to let it dry out a day or two before topping it off.  We’ve learned that if you don’t pack it in small layers or mound it up when wet, a post can be wiggly forever. 
The skinny post he’d removed was rotten at the bottom and too short to use for the gate now. We went on a post hunt in the fruit orchard and chose one that used to support a long gone grape vine. (Mowing the orchard just got easier!)  
We’d set the first post so the center of the gate lined up with the garden focal point, ‘Tiger Fountain’ and the solarium doors to the north, and the other posts to the west (no tapes measures, just eyeball’d it). We held the gate next to it’s post where the hinges would be, lined up the new post with enough room for the catch to meet the gate, marked the spot, then dug the hole and planted that post too. To our surprise, we found grey gravel in the bottom of the new hole. Must’ve had another post in that spot before; North GA granite doesn’t migrate on it’s own.  
Before calling it a day, Wendell dug up the holly, took it to the garden and covered the roots with compost to hold it a few days until I decided where to plant it. I don’t have to hurry because this is winter and the plant is dormant.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Dog Nuisance

Our dog PieFace can climb over a six foot fence to wreck havoc! To keep him away from the fence we put sideways tomato cages along the fence inside Tiger Fountain Garden, our formal herb garden. The electric fence wouldn’t work there because the ornamental shrubs next to the fence would short the wire.  A dummy line is no good; somehow, without even touching it, PieFace can tell if there is electricity in the wire and over he goes!
We’re fed up with taking out and replacing those cages to get to the herbs or through the gate so I’m taking Tiger Fountain territory away from the dogs. Originally cedar panels enclosed the garden. Once the hedges matured we took off the panels inside the yard (they were in bad shape after the dogs took short cuts). We left the wooden posts in place; my shortcut to fencing the dogs out.  I don’t mind trimming those bushes if I have to to put up a hot wire to keep dogs away from the new fence.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Road to Mushroom Mountain

The Road to Mushroom Mountain
This morning I returned from the Georgia Organics Grits and Vigor conference.  I hadn’t taken my house keys with me, after all, Bond had stayed home and could let me in.  He didn’t answer the phone both times I called and only Stevie and Ernie came to the back door when I banged on the knocker. After I checked to see that the cat patio was locked (he hadn’t fed those cats yet) I went around to the garden gate.  I was delighted to go directly to the next gate, the Sunken Garden Gate, without dog company because I’d made a point to finish that project before the conference.  I entered the house to find Bond in his shower attire, why he hadn’t heard the phone or door knocker.  SO good to be home!
I moved my suitcase and 2 bags of conference booty into the house and shared the loot and good news.

After puttering all day, I tidied up the cat patio.  I discovered a chewed up plastic bag with a Mushroom Mountain label. WAIT! Where did the cats find this? Did they find an old bag from a past purchase? I’d used inoculant for legumes before. I’d better take a closer look.  Damn! It was the one pound bag of mycorrhizal granules I’d purchased yesterday to inoculate seeds I’m sowing on the Tilley Farm to help remedy years of conventional farming. I figured FlirtyGirl had nabbed it from my luggage while I was going around the house so I went to the back door.  I hoped she hadn’t eaten it; no telling what it would do to a mammal. To my relief, there was a little trail leading from the door, around and under the fence and ending under the oldest wood pile mixed in with all kinds of organic matter. I had no choice but to sweep it all up.  I’ll still use it.  I’d intended to make my own mixture from the abundant microbes here at home anyway.  Now I just won’t be able to compare them (unless I buy another bag.)


I must be living right. I have friends who know how to do things I can’t do and tools and materials to make things happen (in the right season).

Just Diggin' it.
The clamshell digger (2ft. depth marker) has black topsoil.
The auger (3 ft. marker) has red clay subsoil on it.
Not shown, plywood scrap to slam the shovel onto to get the dirt off and make it easier to rake or hoe the dirt back into the hole. Use 2 to keep subsoil separate from topsoil.
30 years ago we began fencing Daddy’s lot in Parrott, as soon as we got dairy goats.  We began with a barn (shed roof apron around the old garage) and three 25 ft. x 25 ft. pens where we rotated goats and gardens.  The fencing had to be 6 ft. tall to keep goats in and predators out. 6 ft. fence, posts 1/3 in the ground = 9 ft. posts in 3 1/2  ft. deep holes with room for gravel at the bottom.  You can get most of the way down with a clamshell post digger and then have to switch to an auger because there's not enough room in a deep hole to pull the handles apart with a decent load of dirt. Bond got his workout putting in that first goat pen. We had cross braces in every corner, 28 holes or 98 running feet! Eventually we fenced in the south acre pasture, after we bought a one-person gas powered hole digger in a frame, that even I could use.

Time to Plant Posts 
We began fencing in winter. As the days grew warmer the ground got harder. Our neighbor, Frank Alston remarked, “Everybody knows there’s a time to plant and a time to harvest.  Around here there’s a time to plant posts. That’s wintertime. In summer this clay is hard as concrete; you may as well give up and wait for winter.”  I got around that with a single drip irrigation emitter on each spot for a day before digging. That way the water went straight down to soften the soil.
The goats are long gone.  The fences keep dogs, cats and gardens separated.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

South GA Sat night excitement!

Pieface (the dog) says: how (& maybe why) to kill a copperhead. 1. You and your best dog friends bark at snake outside the fence until the stupid snake comes inside the fence. 2. Bark really loud at the snake then grab it by the tail. 3. Shake snake by the tail and beat it on
the wooden fence and bushes until it comes apart and gets stuck in the bush. 4. Go into your dog run where Meg has a tasty treat to give you for going into your crate. She will shut you in and go see if the snake is dead, and if it is, bury it outside your yard. She will also take a picture of the snake. And keep an eye on you in case snake bit you. But also, she's not going to call the vet. It's Saturday! He deserves a day off!  And you got your poisonous snake vaccination booster last month.