Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Raised Beds - Dirt and More Dirt

And now we back track to March. I’ve scrawled most of this into my increasingly dirty garden journal over time but it’s time to put it into neat and legible computer print for my family and friends who want to know what I was really up to most of the month in the experimental garden.
Since I can’t really dig out dirt from my yard, though it is a very rich virgin soil, I had a nice garden mix delivered. Just 3 cubic yards like I said in my previous post, but seeing it laying in my front yard was quite a shock for a moment. With just one plastic garden cart, a shovel and me all of that was going to be moved. Yikes.

But, once I stood next to it and let it absorb, I actually felt fine and not in the least intimidated. In fact, all I was thinking once I got over that initial reaction was how much ice cream I could eat because of the extra calories I would burn off. Quite the bonus!

Here’s what the pile looked like right after I got started.

As luck would have it, the weather did not actually cooperate with me. I did get a few hours of work in leveling one of the beds and moving some dirt into it, but I had really only just gotten going when the promised front arrived early and it started to seriously pour. As if rain wasn’t enough, the wind was howling too. I managed to cart off the “edges” of the dirt so too much wouldn’t get swept away down the gutters and covered the pile with another tarp weighted down with some handy blocks I’d gotten for leveling the beds.

That worked for about 2 hours then the wind went from howling to downright screaming.

I must have made 20 trips out there in the rain to fix the tarp and by the time I finally went to bed, I had all the planters with last years dirt in them piled up on the edges and sides of the tarp. Now these aren’t small, they are 24 inch containers filled with wet dirt and I had to haul or roll them up and down the crazy slopes of my yard to get them there. Let me just say that I was cursing up a blue streak by 10 p.m. and not even feeling bad about it.

But, like all glitches with the weather, it finally passed after about 24 hours and I went out, working fast. I got all the dirt moved, the beds filled and that extra inch or so added to the front flower/bush bed before dark. I felt pretty good about it, even though my arm felt like I had the gripping power of a cat afterwards.

Vanna was a big help getting the dirt into the small spaces between the bushes and dwarf spruce in the front beds. She did remark that the garden mix, which is 1/3 vegetable compost and 2/3 topsoil, smelled wonderful and was nice to muck about in.

For the beds to be safe from the insane mole population in this neighborhood, I put in a sturdy wire bottom by simply cutting it to length plus 4 inches on two sides and laying the bed down on top of the screen. I used the weight of the dirt to seal it to the bed after it was leveled.

This is the small raised bed, just 3’ x 3’, with wire bottom intact, in my side yard being leveled.

And here I am at the bottom of the pile, well before dark. As you can see, I’m a mess, but very happy to be almost done! (Oh, and please don’t judge me by the baggy sweats and messy hair!)

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