Friday, March 19, 2010

Moving dirt

These days, it seems like I just move dirt from one place to another, and then back again.

I'm currently working on the "double dig" in my raised beds. Last year we bought a truckload of good dirt and compost. We built six raised beds that had to be placed over the top of an area that was quite compacted from years of parked cars, and it was as hard as concrete. There were several options for how to proceed, and I of course chose the one that would mean the most work for me in the end: Because I was so busy with the house remodel and had very little time, I put the raised beds over the compacted dirt, filled them with good dirt and compost, and hoped for the best, knowing in my heart what it would mean for this year...

So now I have to suck it up and go one bed at a time, removing the dirt I added last year and digging down as far as I can into the original dirt to break it up and loosen it. This job is made a little easier this time of year because the ground is still wet, but it is still hard, hard work.

Here I've loosened about 12 inches of dirt and pulled out some enormous rock-hard dirt clods. Each small section I do gets a load of compost (that we bought from our county compost facility. Two cubic yards for $35!).

Raised beds7

I worked the compost into that part of the soil and then spent another hour or so breaking apart those giant dirt clods and placing that dirt on top, to which I'll add another load of compost.

Raised beds8

So far I have completed one bed, on the left. I'll be using the square foot method of gardening; because the beds have odd angles (the husband hates symmetry!), I laid out a grid using twine to help me plan where the different vegetables will go.

Raised beds1

I am also building three new beds this year where my three new varieties of strawberries will go. (The husband was so dismayed by the perfect rectangular shape that he couldn't get very excited about my skills with the chopsaw and drill...)

Raised beds3

While I've been busy on the garden area, the husband is working on the waterfront section of our property... We have an area behind our house with a creek. It's usually a very small creek, but when the snow melts in the mountains above us or there is a big thunderstorm, it becomes a very big creek.

Creek area2

This whole area of our property used to be completely covered in horrible tamarisk and elm trees that extended from the creek area about 20-30 feet up toward the house. It has taken three years to remove all of it. This is how the area looked in August, 2007. From our house, you couldn't see either of the neighbors' houses behind us.

Original creek area

We had a lot of rock left over from the new septic system we put in last year, so we are placing the rock along the edge of the creek to help prevent any further erosion of this area.

 Creek area6

The property slopes down to the creek over a long distance, which makes it very hard to use that land.

Creek area1

So we are also moving that dirt out of the way for now so that we can place some railroad ties and large rocks to create two new level planting areas for flowers (probably all the day lilies and iris I stole from my mom) and more raspberries and/or grapes.

Creek area3

The progress is slow but steady!


  1. Oh my, you truly are an earth mover. That's an impressive amount of work you've done on your property already. Makes my back ache to think about it, but the yard will be beautiful when the jobs are done!

  2. Whenever my back hurts and I think about giving up, I look back at the old pictures of the place and then I think about how very close we are to finishing. And that gives me the motivation to keep on keepin' on. But I really, really, REALLY can't wait to be done with all this so I can just sit back and enjoy it for a bit!

  3. WOW! I'm really impressed with all your progress. I love that Hubby doesn't love know mine does! :)

  4. yikes,,,, lots of work. put a plow on the sadiebug and it might go faster!!! hahaha

  5. back aches just reading this! What a tremendous amount of work you have done! Kudos kudos kudos!

    Hey I met a friend at starbucks the other day and came back with three huge free bags of used grounds for the plants. If you have one, check it out...your soil may love it!


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