Wednesday, April 2, 2008


That is the word we kept using the other night as we laid out the perimeter of the garden. Of course, it doesn't even come close to truly describing what was taking place. Folly may be a more accurate word.

We've located our garden in the front yard. So, I stood on the front porch to take a picture. I couldn't fit the whole thing in the shot.
The garden is shaped like a rectangle with the southwestern corner cut off. We may be adding a turnoff from the driveway to the south of it that would curve around at the southwest corner and then come up along the front of the house, which is to the west of it, so we cut off that corner just in case. The last thing we want is to work really hard to improve the soil, only to have that soil end up under a gravel driveway.

So, to the east, the distance across the garden is 66 feet and to the west, it is 44 feet. The height is 72 feet to the north, the long end, and 50 feet to the south, the short end. Can you picture it? Let me help. It is 1800 square feet of bed space, not including the many pathways. Can you see why ambitious may be an understatement?

We plan to fence the whole thing in and start planting. When we run out of time, we'll stop. We may not get the whole thing planted this year, but hopefully, we will build up to that.

Yesterday, we broke out the shovels and went to work.
It was pretty chilly when we started, but by the end, we had shed the coats and were in short sleeves.
What are those child labor laws, anyway?

We plan to double-dig as much of it as we can. That means that we dig down a foot, removing that top layer of soil. Then, once that is out, we go down another foot, just loosing the soil up. Then the top layer of soil is replaced, with the grass hidden inside of it to rot and provide instant compost. As you can imagine, it is a lot of back-breaking work. We'll do as much of it like that as we can, but the rest of what we need will be done an easier way. For that, we'll lay down a layer of wet newspaper (our packing paper from our move will serve this purpose) and build soil and compost up from there. The paper will serve to smother the grass (again, instant compost) and, as the seeds grow, the roots will find their way down through the paper. Obviously, this method is a lot easier on the back, but we aren't as convinced that it will work well. The beauty, though, of 1800 square feet is that you can experiment with different methods.

The soil does look very good already. Our first scoops revealing soil teeming with earthworms. In fact, one of our barred rock hens found her way over to where we were working and began to follow our shovels around, picking out all the worms and slurping them up.

Today, it is raining. So, we get a break from the work. Instead, after we finish school, I am going to work on some sewing. Tomorrow it is supposed to be nice again, with temps in the 60s this weekend. It'll be beautiful weather for killing ourselves with work!


Prairie Chick said...

Okay, I am NEVER going to complain about how hard it is to control my rototiller AGAIN.... wow... I'm speechless, you guys pack a whackload of true pioneer punch people! Good on ya!

TeamBettendorf said...

One word: Rototiller.

I am envious though. I'd love to start digging up a plot. :)