How to Cut Rebar

So I was pretty embarassed when I went up to the local Menards today to pick up some rebar.  Last week I purchased the rest of the foundation blocks I needed for the foundation block retaining wall project behind the garage because they were on sale at 99 cents each instead of the usual price of $1.25 each.  During the process, I thought maybe the rebar would be on sale as well.  Nope, it wasn't – but I went ahead and got it all purchased.  I needed five additional pieces of rebar and a 20-foot section was $4.29.

With the five pieces, I will get seven pieces out of them – all approximately 34 inches in length.  The goal with these is to put one in each of the squares in the blocks to hold them in place.  I wanted to do this so I can use the squares in the blocks to plant one onion in them and so the wall can be taken down at a later date – if so desired.  If I used concrete to fill those squares, it would make it more permanent and I'd lose space to plant 40+ onions!

So I went up to the store to pick up the five pieces of rebar – with a hacksaw in hand.  I pulled all of the five pieces out and started to cut one about 8.5 feet long so they could fit in the car.  It took me at least 15 minutes to make this single cut with the hacksaw – and when i was done – the hacksaw blade was a complete goner!  So, word of advice – do not use a hacksaw blade to cut rebar because it just shreds the teeth to nothing.  It was literally smooth where the teeth used to be – with no sign of teeth even existing!

So I only could take home the rebar that I was able to cut – and had to put the four other pieces back to pick up at a later time.

I got home and decided to search on how to cut re-bar.  I came across a few sites and everyone had their different opinions (of course).  Some recommended to use a hacksaw or sawzall – but these two definitely will not work if you need to make more than one cut.  The blades will be worthless.  Others said you need to get a diamond blade to cut rebar.  Then others said to use bolt cutters (tried that last time I was at Menards and the guy couldn't get it to budge) or even an angle grinder (this is what the guy at Menards used after the bolt cutters didn't work).

Alas – I came across someone that says to use a skill saw with a masonry blade to cut rebar.  I remembered that I had previously purchased a masonry blade to cut some bricks I used to put down around the grape arbor in the front yard.

So, I got the skill saw out and put the masonry bit on.

Skill Saw Masonry Blade

Then I measured a piece to find where the length was that I needed.

Measuring Rebar

And then I started cutting!

Cutting Rebar

After a lot of sparks later and about 45 seconds, I stopped as I was a little more than 1/2 way through the rebar.

Cutting Rebar

Rebar is pretty brittle after it has been cut.  After this cut, I turned the rebar over, put a foot on one side, and pulled up on the other side and it snapped in two right at the cut.

After making the additional cuts on the one piece of rebar I was able to bring back home, I thought – "I found the solution!"  I went back up to Menards and picked up the other four pieces of 20-foot rebar – taking the skill saw and an extension cord with me to cut it on-site.  The 20-foot rebar – if left uncut – would have drug on the road all the way home – and that definitely wasn't acceptable.

I got back home and 20 cuts later, I now have 35 pieces of approximately 34" length rebar.

Finished Rebar

Garden Retaining Wall

Several months ago I began work on a retaining wall for the garden that is behind the garage.  There is a nasty slope back there that has caused me to slip several times while picking tomatoes and other veggies.  By putting in the retaining wall, I will then be able to fill in the area and make it level – and will have the added benefit of picking up an extra 2 x 27 foot gardening area for more produce!  I'll have to put a board down the middle of the garden so I'll have an area to walk on, however.

I looked at several options for making a retaining wall.  The first was looking at the typical retaining wall bricks.  But, those suckers are about $1 each and they are only about 4 inches tall by 6 to 8 inches long.  At that rate, it would have cost a small fortune to build the retaining wall – and I wasn't going to pay that!

The next option was making the wall out of the landscape timbers.  Those are also four inches tall and can be purchased at eight-foot long lengths for about $4.  I would have needed 16 of these – plus some rebar to put down the middle of them in order to hold them together.  This was more like it – and was going to cost right about $100 for all of the materials.

However, the landscape timbers left a bad taste in my mouth.  My dad used the same timbers for making a retaining wall around the walk-out basement at their house, and he just had to replace some this year due to – rot.  Granted, those timbers were probably 16 years old, but I would like to have something a bit more permanent.

Alas, I discovered the solution – typical foundation blocks for making a retaining wall!  The foundation blocks are 8 inches wide, 8 inches deep, and 16 inches long.  What I also like about the blocks is that they have two squares cut out in the middle.  I can use this space to plant one (maybe even two) onions in each of these!  The retaining wall blocks have been averaging between 99 cents each (they are on sale now and I've purchased about half of them from the sale) up to $1.25 each.  In addition, rebar is also needed as well.  I plan to use the rebar for two purposes – for ensuring the foundation blocks are secure and to use them as fence posts for the green plastic fencing I put around this garden.  This will then eliminate the need for using the 1×2 wooden strips I've been using as fence posts that rot out every year.

Below is a few pictures showing the progress so far.  Yesterday it was very nice outside and I put up about 2/3 of the below progress that day.

Foundation Block Retaining Wall

One thing I am going to change is to pull out the rebar I've put in (will put in six of them about 5.5 feet apart) is that I will put the rebar on the outside of the bricks.  I'm going to have to get a lot more rebar and cut it into 3-foot length sections.  Then I am going to have to put one piece of rebar in front of each little square (will be about 40 – 45 total) and drive them in the ground two feet.  This will keep the foundation block retaining wall in place.  I thought about adding concrete down every other square, but this would take away from the garden space – and it would make this a very permanent retaining wall.  I do want to have the possibility of other homeowners that may buy the house in the future to take this out if they wish.  So, by using rebar driven into the ground in front of each square, this will allow all the blocks to be removable.

Foundation Block Retaining Wall

Total cost of this project will even be just about the same cost as the landscape timbers – and may be a few dollars cheaper.

Received Seeds from FedCo Seeds

This year was the first time I've ever purchased seeds through an online company.  Well, I guess I did buy some Sugar Dots corn seed last year through a place – but this time I bought all the seeds I need for the garden except for potatoes.

Over at the GardenWeb Vegetable forum, folks were mentioning a place called FedCo Seeds.  I was quite surprised when I went to the FedCo seeds website to see their prices!  All other seed catalogs are very high on their prices – and shipping makes it not worth buying them at all.

Previously, I've always purchased my seeds from local garden/farm stores.  They already have their seeds out in the stores as well!  They carry the Burpee variety of seeds so while I was there a few days ago, I gave their displays a good looking over.  They typically sell their seeds 30% off of what Burpee's retail price is – so that is nice.  However, I feel very confident now on my decision to purchase from FedCo seeds.

As an example, the Silver Queen corn was available on the Burpee stand, but it was only 3/4 an ounce for $1.50 – even with the 30% off!  Through FedCo seeds, you got TWO ounces of seed (almost triple the amount at the store) for $2.00.  That is quite the difference – and with the two ounces of seed, I should have corn seed for three years now.

Overall, FedCo Seeds had a better selection than the displays at the stores.  While the stores had plenty of varieties of seed to choose from, there were several items that they didn't have.

Most of the order from FedCo Seeds came in – but the peas and bush beans (three packages total)  are on backorder and will be shipped later.

So, I got 13 packages of seeds for $22.90 including shipping from FedCo.  Here is what was ordered:

  • Greencrop Bush Green Bean (2 ounce pack for $1.30; ordered 2)
  • Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean (2 ounce pack for $1.40; ordered 2)
  • Sugar Snap Pea – Organic (2 ounce pack for $2.00)
  • Sugarsnax Carrot (1 gram pack for $1.30)
  • Copra Onion (1/16 ounce pack for $1.60)
  • Red Salad Bowl Lettuce (2 gram pack for $0.70)
  • Buttercrunch Lettuce (2 gram pack for $0.70)
  • Ventura Celery (0.1 gram pack for $2.20)
  • Caribe Cilantro – Organic (1 gram pack for $1.00)
  • Sweet Basil (4 gram pack for $1.00)
  • Silver Queen Corn (2 ounce pack for $2.00)

FedCo Seeds

So that is quite a bit of seed for the money.  While I would have liked to see them carry the Fortex Pole Bean, the Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean seems to be a relatively well-accepted one.  The Fortex Pole Beans can grow nine inches or longer – thereby increasing yields per square foot.

This year we are going to venture into trying celery and a few herbs.  One of my friends says his mom grows basil and they eat it fresh in salads and on several other dishes and it is great.  I have six long planters that are about 29 inches long, about six inches deep, and about five inches wide.  I figured we might as well use these for something and plant three with basil and three with cilantro and see how they turn out.

The celery is very hard to grow from what I understand.  I've read that you need to start celery indoors about 12 weeks before your last frost (just right there with the Copra onion).  This starts to get into the question – is it worth growing these items since that is three months of fluorescent lights  with an electric bill?  But, I'm all for experimenting to see what we can grow and testing my green thumb to see if its possible.

Cleaning Up Seed Starting Containers for 2010

Well, 2010 is now here and it is time to get things ready to go!  I'm going stir-crazy sitting in the house without much to do – except my two lettuce experiments.

So, over the weekend I built a seed-starting box.  It is 20 inches wide by four feet long and it is four inches deep.  It was made out of some old wood I had around the house.  The two short sides and the bottom were made from old 1/8" paneling and the longer sides made out of some old 1/2" plywood  that were once used as doors.

The idea with the box is to allow me to fit all of the little seed starting containers in here without any water leaking.  I've always had to use large rubbermaid lids to put under the little containers, but there was a lot of unusable space under the grow-lights – so this maximizes space.  Once the time grows nearer for starting the seeds, I'll put some plastic along the bottom and sides of the grow box so any excess water will accumulate and will not leach out onto a table.

So, here is the glory of all of the stuff.  All of the stuff is in the newly-created box in the first picture:

Seed Starting

I have quite the assortment of items over the years.  Most of them are the black plastic packs in various sizes.  Last year I bought the greenhouse kit and the brown-looking cups on the right-hand side that is like a self-watering system with the tray underneath.

Seed Starting Containers

Wow – quite a bit more stuff!  After I brought all of the containers in the house, I spent well over two hours with some hot soapy water and cleaned out every single container.  I know I have more than enough for all the seeds this year.

Seed Starting Containers

Above is about how the box will look.  I'll hang three two-tube fluorescent lights over the growing area and that should do it.

I thought I would now show the types of containers I have and used throughout the years.

Seed Starters

Just a standard square plastic pot.  I have nine of those.  A total of nine seedlings could start if one was planted individually in each.

Seed Starting

Above is a "four-pack" and it is 2 x 2 in dimension.  I have three of these.  A total of 12 individual plants could be started in these.

Seed Starting

Above is a 3 x 1 container.  I have 24 of these – so I can plant 72 total plants in these.

Seed Starting

Above is the typical six-packs where they are 3 x 2.  I have a lot of these – 33 total.  I can plant 198 plants in all of them!

Seed Starting

Above is a wider variety of the six-packs.  Also is 3 x 2 in size but these are wider.  I have six of these total – allows for 36 plants total.

Seed Starting

After seeing the photo of the 3 x 3 containers above, I didn't to a very good job of cleaning them!  These are the newest ones I have and came with the greenhouse kit and two other trays I bought last year.  I have 16 of these – so a total of 144 plants can be seeded in them.

Seed Cups

Just a standard 16-ounce cup.  I bought these last year and have lost one – so I have 35 of them.  These were used for the broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes last year.  They take up too much space so I'm hoping to put the tomatoes and peppers in other containers this year – and then maybe pot them up in these if necessary.

Seed Cup

The neighbor gave me some of these cups last year after he purchased some plants.  So I have seven of them.

Self-Watering Containers

And lastly, the 28 small cups in the self-watering tray.  The cups sit just a little higher than the bottom of the tray so you can pour water into the bottom and it will navigate through all of the holding areas and keep some water available to absorb into the containers.  These also take up a lot of space – but I started the tomatoes and peppers in these last year.


I couldn't believe how much stuff I have accumulated throughout the years!  Most of the stuff I've never bought and just re-used.  I got most of them from my mom for when she bought flowers in the black containers.


So out of all of the containers, I could start 541 seeds using all of them!  I don't have nearly that much space in the 49 x 20 inch box I made to put under the lights.  But I should be able to fit around  200+ in the box.

Hopefully there will be enough space for all of the seeds.  This year I'm going to try to plant Copra onion seeds instead of buying sets – as it is rumored that the bulbs can grow larger and Copra is one of the longest long-day storing onions available.   Unfortunately, the onions themselves will take up at least 100 of these spaces!

I've also been debating about starting all of the peas indoors before planting them out as well – just to ensure I use maximum space in the garden to prevent areas where a seed doesn't sprout (I had issues with this with the beans last  year).  If this is the case, there goes another 120+ containers!  Wow – how quickly everything gets filled up.  At this rate, I may have to make another box and buy more lights (I sure hope not).

So, it is now time to 'hurry up and wait' before planting can begin.  The first that will be started will be the onions – and those will be done around the beginning of February.  They have to get big enough to transplant out in the garden from the little tiny seeds.


On a last note, I placed an order for seeds over the weekend as well.  This is the first time I have purchased seeds online (except for the Sugar Dots corn last year) for most of my plants.  I did so through FedCo seeds because the price of the seeds were very low and shipping wasn't bad.  They had the Copra onion seeds so I purchased $15 worth of seeds for green beans, peas, cilantro (new for this year), celery (new for this year), onion, carrot, and two lettuce varieties.  So 11 packages of seeds were purhchased for $20 with shipping – that is very comparable (if not less expensive) than what they would have been purchasing them at the local store.