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Saturday, April 11, 2015

The New Garden Beds

Pictures at the end...

They are finally all built and filled!  I started last Fall to tear out the old 25 year old ones (and which were not my best work (being unlevel and too shallow).  I bought wood to construct more and larger and taller ones.  I got 5 of 6 finished before the ground froze and it was too cold to work outside.

So the first thing was to build the 6th bed, then move all the remaining good soil from the old ones.  That took some time.  The ground stayed frozen well after the air warmed up in March.  Then I had to wait for the yard to dry enough to bring in more topsoil and compost.

I waited because there were 2 ways to do that.  First (because the lawn was soft from thawing) was I could get the soil and compost from a landscape supply place in the hauling trailer, park it in the front yard at the street, bring the lawn mower with the yard trailer (3x4 feet) to the hauling trailer, shovel it full from the hauling trailer, drive it around back to the garden, and unshovel it into the beds.  I've done that before and its a lot of shoveling!

Second, I could wait for the lawn to dry enough to drive the hauling trailer straight back to the garden and unshovel the load once (and right next to it).  That's an iffy trick of getting between Spring rains and not wanting to wait too long to get it done.

Now, the new beds had some decent soil from the old beds, and I wanted to mix compost (a lovely black and crumbly local leaf compost called "Leaf-Gro") into the existing soil.  I did that 2 weeks ago.  That got most of the beds half-filled.  But the last bed had little good soil and the rest had settled about 4" down.

I went back to the landscaping supply yard expecting to have to get more topsoil on one trip and then more compost on a second.  But Wonder of Wonders, they had something NEW.  A thoroughly mixed 50-50 blend on the Leaf-Gro and topsoil.

I examined each of the 3 carefully, crumbling handfuls, smelling it, and looking at the color.  Their pure topsoil is very good stuff, the Leaf-Gro is very good stuff, and the 50-50 mix seemed to really be 50-50.  To explain how I knew, I found clods in the 50-50 mix and crushed them.  Half were topsoil and half were Leaf-Gro.  And the color of the really sifted parts (99% of the mix) was right between them in color.

Sure beats mixing the individual parts together with a spading fork one forkful at a time over 160 square feet of beds! 

I got two front-loader buckets of the mix (about 2 cubic yards or a bit over 1.5 cubic meters) according to the landscape place.  I think they underestimate the front-loader; I think I got 2 cubic meters (from measuring the volume in the trailer.

But having the trailer right at the garden SURE made things easier.  Sure, shoveling is tedious.  But straight off the back of the trailer into a wheelbarrow once and dumping it only 10' away into the beds was shoveling it once rather than twice.  And I had EXACTLY enough to fill ALL the beds to the top (the soil will settle a bit).

Pictures...

Half-done last Fall.  There is JUST enough space between the beds for my wheelbarrow.
More done last Fall.  BTW, you can see how I attached the lower and upper frames.  The dark wood on the inside is a 1"x6" pressure-treated board that attaches the 2 together.  There is one on each long side of each bed. 
All built by this Spring.
The tarp-covered trailer of 50-50 topsoil and compost mix.   Oops, didn't get a picture with the tarp off...  But you can see it was nearly filled.  5'x8' trailer filled 1.5 feet high = 60 cubic feet = 2+ cubic yards).
Filled all the beds to top (it will settle a bit).   The beds are 4' wide, 3' and 4'.  With 2' between them and allowing 2' on the outsides, it is a perfect 20' square for the framed chicken wire and pipe enclosure!
Did all the emptying/shoveling in 2 hours!  And had to slather muscle-rub on my hands when I went to make dinner later when the muscle cramps started.  OUCH!  Its been a long un-excerising Winter...  But I recover fast.  Oh, and just how did I scrape the trailer so clean, you ask?  Two words.  Snow Shovel!
And I have 2 trash barrels full of leftover pure Leaf-Gro compost  to use on the flowerbeds!
Now I just have to build the PVC pipe and chicken wire enclosure to protect the magnificent new garden from the Evil Squirrels, Evil Rabbits, and Evil Goundhogs.

Well, what is life without the next project?  LOL!  And I have plenty of them on my list...

1 comment:

Megan said...

Yaaay, yaaaay and more yaaaay, I say Mark. Congratulations on moving this project forward. It's certainly been a big undertaking. Can't wait to see the beds filled with thriving plants. Congratulations.

Megan
Sydney, Australia