Dirt, Dirt, Everywhere

Tuesday, Dec. 02, 2003 – 6:29 a.m.

2003-12-02 6:29

As I planned, I was able to move the dirt into the new bed over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. However, before I could put the new dirt in, I still needed to apply and till in the soil amendments I had gotten for the “undersoil”. I hadn’t gotten that done because the weather had not cooperated or I was out of town the last couple of weekends. Friday was another day when the weather was bad for this activity…. rainy and cold. I didn’t want the soil to be too wet so I had put a big tarp over the bed on Thursday before heading to Francesca’s for a fine T-giving dinner and afternoon/evening of board gaming. Fortunately, Saturday dawned clear and sunny (if still a little cold).

Several weeks ago I had used the garden fork to break up the soil and that was a good thing. Anne had come down for the weekend and we went over to the local rental place to rent a tiller. Alas, the local rental place in Cary was closed; there was a sign directing customers to their Raleigh store. Since it really wasn’t that far to the Raleigh store, we headed over there. The cost was $30 for 4 hours of use. Initially I thought that was pretty short time but that was before I used the tiller.

We loaded the tiller into the back of the car and hauled it back to the house. While I fired up the tiller in the bed, Anne started hauling the bags of soil, compost, and cow manure from the pallets on the driveway around to the new bed. As mentioned before, the fact that I had broken up the soil with the garden fork really helped. I went over the bed twice before I added the soil amendments (40 lbs of gypsum and three large bales of peat moss). In one place the soil got positively soupy and the tiller almost got bogged down. I was wearing my hiking boots and I sank in almost to the top of the boots. I spread the stuff and retilled and that REALLY helped the boggy part. It was still pretty soft there but not so bad that you were in danger of having it eat your shoes.

Since we were working on a timeline for the tiller, I then spent about 30 minutes hosing down the bottom part of the tiller to get the mud off (Getting my pants pretty well soaked in the process). I might have gone faster if I had had a brush… live and learn. After a bite of lunch (while the tiller “dried off”) we loaded it up again and took it back. All and all, a successful process but I would not have been able to do it by myself… (well, not without getting really creative with a ramp of some kind).

On Sunday, another fine day, I got started putting the bags of dirt (I am going to just refer to all topsoil, compost, and cow manure, as “dirt”) into the bed. Looking back at the proportions of stuff that I had bought, I figured out that I need to put down 3 bags each of topsoil and compost to 2 bags of manure. I ended up alternating between bags of topsoil and compost (since that is what Anne had hauled around first) and got about 9 inches of dirt down, using the dirt rake to mix the two as I worked…. I would do a row across with two bags of each then mix it with the rake. That took 44 bags (22 of each topsoil and compost). Once I had the whole bed done to 9 inches, I added the cow manure, raked that to an even layer then added the rest of the topsoil and compost on top.

All in all, it worked pretty well. The dirt looks a lot better than the stuff I got last year. I still want to go in and mix it some more but that is something that could be done over a couple of mornings or even tomorrow morning while I am waiting for the cable guy to show to install my cable modem. Of course, it would be really easy to do if I had one of those mini-tillers that attach to gas-powered string trimmers…. $80 bucks at Lowes…hmmmm… [sigh] I should probably go the low-tech route this time and do it manually. I could use the exercise.

The other thing I meant to get done this weekend was putting up the post in the middle of the diamond. Again, that may be something I can get done tomorrow.

Next step: decide what roses to plant!

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