As can be expected from very small companies, our friends the earthwork contractors did not visit us as initially announced. And since we are, as always, really good at being haunted by Murphy's law, there was a rather huge storm on August the 22nd (70 mm of water in only a few hours), just before they actually came. Consequences:
- We spent a lovely morning mopping water from the basement and throwing buckets full of water out in the street. It was definitely an involuntary wet t-shirt contest! Without the neighbour's help we would have been truly flooded.
- I had a lot of plants in buckets outside; well, the buckets were full of water, and I was unable to remove it all. The plants didn't like that
The earthwork contractors came two days after that. But since their secretary had no clue how large an area needed to be prepared, some of the plants we hadn't removed had to be rather savagely dug out or ended up under the heaps of earth that were extracted.
After a full day's work, we have:
- One big heap in the middle of the path,
- A partial trench under the balcony,
- Another trench between the wall and the water tank, with the corresponding heap...
The nice earthwork contractors came back the next day to install a drain as well as a waterproof layer along the wall. Of course, it went catastrophically bad when they discovered their drilling machine was too short and couldn't be used at the right angle to go through the wall and have the drain's pipe join the appropriate sink hole... They really had a hard time!
The earthwork contractors seem to have been contaminated by our tendency to suffer from Murphy's law, and thus it started raining. The soil is sticky, it gets really hard to dig using only a pickaxe and a shovel - so they end up renting a mini-excavator (they had some of these, but theirs were bigger and didn't fit through the gates) in order to finish putting the earth back into the trenches. Which leads to the following:
- The excavator in the middle of my lovely flower bed. It was nice before, wasn't it? :s
- The trench along the water tank being filled again:
And to add insult to injury, one of the contractors fell on the pipe that is used to pump water from the tank and to the taps. They changed the pipe, but it is now impossible to pump water: the pump is no longer primed and water starts flowing under the server room's floor if we try to prime it using the town's water - which means that the pipe must be disconnected or broken somewhere behind the server room's wall... We called the plumber but the guy who came wasn't the one who installed that and didn't dare to try as he doesn't know exactly where the pipes are. So we're waiting for the original plumber to be available so he can fix that...
We were subjected to a rather big storm early in June - with somewhat... dramatic... consequences. Short version: some water sept in through the basement's walls on the front side of the house. We spent a good part of the night "playing" around with floor clothes and buckets. That's what it looked like in the morning:
This is the other part of the basement:
We definitely needed to take action quickly. Feeling paranoid and checking the basement every 5 minutes whenever it rains doesn't sound like much of a long-term plan. So we had an earthwork contractor come over to give us a quotation on weatherproofing the house's foundations on the front of the house.
As it turns out, it's kind of a good news/bad news scenario.
The good news: the contractor is (well, should be, anyway) coming this week to do the actual work. So, if everything goes as planned, we'll be able to stop worrying whenever it rains.
The bad news: we need to clear 1.5 to 2m of terrain along the wall.
So I had to remove all of this :
I started by moving annual plants (well, you never know, some of them might survive it), and today I moved all remaining perennial plants (or put them into jars).
I also had to clear the area between the manhole on the right and the right border of the picture below:
It took a while, but now I have a wonderful mine field where the lovely flower bed used to be
So where did the plants go? Well, I re-planted annuals wherever I could. Perennial plants are waiting in jars or buckets... That's what it looks like:
There were quite a few petunias amongst the annual plants I moved, and they're not in a very good shape for now. However the rest don't look too bad for now... Even if they were dying, it would not be a serious problem. Most perennial plants are looking fine as well, I'm only a little worried about rose bushes. Worst case scenario, I'll have to prune them to reduce the amount of leaves and flower buds they need to feed.
I find the situation quite annoying at any rate - having to destroy one of the few areas of the garden that really started to look good... On the other hand it's better to do it now, I suppose, as the plants haven't been taking root for too long. If we'd found out about the flooding later, their roots would have been more developed and it would have damaged them even more.
Still in the "mine field" category, but somewhat more rejoicing: I dug up some of the potatoes (the earliest cultivar).
Granted, most of them are really small, and the yield is low. On the other hand, this Spring was really dry and the soil was poor, so it's mostly a good surprise; in addition, potatoes seem to really improve the soil, as they break clods.
And yes, there are two types of potatoes on the picture: the red ones grew in the compost heap, probably from potato peelings!