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  • Terry Wigmore

Gates and Passageways

Winter has departed, although at this point in the year there may be a late spring surprise (Funny just snowed as I came back to this posting to edit it). Still, a little more sun, and temperatures that are more consistently above 0 degrees Celsius, afford the luxury of dreaming of gardens and planning for this year's vegetables and herbs began.

In truth, the planning for our 2nd year of Covid -gardening began weeks ago, when my wife asked me to build a stand for some 48 inch florescent light fixtures that she had given to her. She bought some full-spectrum light bulbs to go with the fixtures and just needed a stand built so she could hang the lights above the table she had prepared for her seed-starter pods.

The seeds have erupted, and perhaps too soon. We're still a few weeks (maybe a month or more) away from being able to safely relocate the young plants, but that hasn't stopped us from getting out into the garden and getting it ready, in anticipation of another bountiful harvesting of tomatoes, onions, potatoes, squash, carrots, lettuce, rhubarb, oregano, parsley, rosemary and cilantro. ( I will undoubtedly be corrected if my wife reads this post ;)

The onions, parsley, rhubarb and rosemary are all perennials and show themselves quite early, being hearty plants. The rest of the garden needs some attention and preparation, and that is where the gate construction came in.

The gate for the garden was the first sign that we were committed to expanding the garden from last summer's covid-19 experiment. With all the uncertainty regarding food chains and suppliers as well as how to best keep workers safe in the various industries who are part of our supply chain, we decided to make our vegetable garden more of a focus this year.

One thing that became obvious over the past few years of smaller garden plots was the vulnerability of the plants to incursions from the locals - and by locals I mean the local groundhogs. It seemed, at one point, that what our labour was providing was really an all-you-can-eat salad bar buffet for the critters. One groundhog in particular became all too familiar over the course of the gardening season and received the humourous and disparaging nickname "Fat Bastard."

Last year, we chose to enclose the garden. This project was initially a temporary solution with an emphasis on the functionality and effectiveness. The groundhogs were predictable in their path to the garden and we simply reinforced that area of fencing with boards along the ground. It seemed that "Fat Bastard" could gnaw his way through the mesh fencing but not through the would planks. All seemed well and good with the fencing until my wife grew tired and challenged by the temporary gate (simply rolling the mesh aside when you wanted entry to garden and tying it back across the opening with a bit of wire when you were done). It seems that she caught her garments on the mesh in the process of opening and closing with her sleeves being particularly vulnerable. Since she was the more "constant gardener," it seemed that that this spring would require a more practical and aesthetically-pleasing entrance to the garden.

I approached the project with a modicum of fear and trepidation since my one other experience at fence building and gate construction was with my mother-in-law and involved a rather close encounter with the torque of a gas-powered post-hole auger (a tale for another time and one that should have been on YouTube if it had been caught on video). I am a firm believer in gathering as much information as possible before beginning a project and I use YouTube a lot (for how-to/how-not-to construct things). In the process of learning I discovered a carpentry technique called a "half-lap" joint in which the width of the two boards to be joined was reduced to half so that when the boards were over-lapped the total thickness would be one board, not two. This made for an even surface to tack the mesh to and left the gate looking a little more finessed as though I actually knew what I was doing ("fake it 'til you make it "has been my mantra).

The photo for this blog is of the finished gate. I am especially pleased with the sound of the gate closing. It has a crisp "clink" indicating a perfectly situated and level meeting of the latch hardware. I have one nagging question still in my mind: will it keep out "fat bastard?" Stay tuned!

* I was going to go on to note the significance of entry-ways and passage-ways and explore the significance of gates and gate-keepers. Is there a spiritual or moral lesson that can be drawn from my humble garden gate? Always! I just won't include it here and now. That will remain another tale for another day! ;)

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