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Saturday essay: Garden scars

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Friday, May 16, 2014, 8:57 p.m.

Ah, how easy it is to forget how much fun it is to work with chicken wire.

The plan to expand from six to seven the number of raised garden beds surrounding the greenhouse grew to eight this month. And the location changed. Originally to be sited on a lower terrace, it turned out there wasn't enough room to place an 8-foot-by-4-foot bed. Not only would the bed, and its necessary fencing to ward off critters, have made the terrace impossible to mow, the dogs would have lost their favorite place of “business.”

But a harsh winter that collided with a brainstorm in a rainstorm led to a better plan — to a fault.

The ivy on the steep slope between the driveway and the top of the terrace wall had turned from its wonderful perennial green into a dead-as-a-doornail brown. Mother Nature inadvertently unmasked some valuable real estate, albeit with the help of some excavation.

And while it proved to be the perfect spot for two 8-foot-by-2-foot beds, it presented a fencing challenge — woefully little room to maneuver to install that dastardly chicken wire.

For the uninitiated, working with this flimsy galvanized wire, even when cut to size, is like working with a writhing and scratching cat. It flips, flaps and flops around and punches through the best shirt and glove protection.

Yes, the additional growing space will be nice, as the extra produce — and the scars — will remind.

— Colin McNickle

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