Tuesday, May 31, 2011

time to get dirty

After making the beds...

We tarped everything because we live in Portland, Oregon, and it has rained nearly every day for as long as I can remember. Okay, that's a bit dramatic but it has been an especially wet spring and we are below our average temperature. I believe we've had two days in the low 70's and tomorrow is June. Anyway, I was worried that the beds would become a big muddy mess.

We are doing our whole garden on a budget. We could have put in raised beds and paved walkways but that costs more money than we can spend on this year, our trial year. We'll wait and see if we can actually grow things then maybe go with a grander, more aesthetically pleasing look. But, for now, we're on the cheap.

I wanted to have a yard of good soil delivered but it was expensive. We could have picked it up ourselves but we have no truck. Actually, we did try that idea. We threw some tarps in the back of our Pilot and drove over to the dirt place. After looking at the gigantic piles of stuff, I couldn't bear to put it in the back of my car. I feared we'd never get it all out.

So, we headed to Home Depot and bought 6 huge bags of supersoil amender and 6 bags of supersoil compost. It was about $70. Less than having it delivered and more than if we'd thrown dirt in our car with no bags. But, worth every penny that the inside of the car wasn't covered in dirt.

*A note on soil content:
I have to admit that I sort of gloss over the pages in the books that talk about the importance of soil, soil testing, PH, etc. It's a bit overwhelming for a newbie like me. A few years back, we did a gigantic remodel of our entire yard (another blog post for another day). Which means, every bit of dirt for a long ways down was removed and replaced with good soil. The front yard is beautifully landscaped but after putting in the retaining wall on the side yard, we ran out of money. So, the side yard was redirted (probably not the right term), leveled, and has been mulched with bark every year since... it's been a perfect space for the kids to play. This is why I haven't been too worried about the structure and content of our soil. I do know that amender and compost couldn't hurt and it seemed like a wise idea. But, other than that, I am willing to wait for a problem to arise rather than go thru any more time and money spent on soil. I may regret this later, but I'm okay with it for now. 
after big yard remodel... leveled w/ all new dirt 
Side yard freshly barked a few years back pre garden
Back at home, we drug the bags to the beds and started layering and tilling. It didn't take long once I had a system down. Spread the amender on the tilled dirt, layer the compost on top, then shovel over and over and mix it all up with the spade used kinda like a blender blade. I am sure there's a fancier more technical way to do it but this was easy and worked just fine.

In fact, I learned of a much easier way later that day when our neighbors drove up with their truck and a fancy machine that tilled their whole yard in a half an hour. Apparently, you rent them at Home Depot by the hour. I will file that tidbit of information away for next year and am proud to say that I did all my tilling by hand! For some reason that makes me feel better.

My gardening notebook was bulging with ideas and thoughts as every evening I'd been reading my way through the library books. The yard was now ready for some seeds and plants.

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