Friday, October 26, 2007

Lounging About In The Garden

Gardening is supposed to be a relaxing, pastoral hobby... and then there's MY garden. The soil (to use the term loosely) that nature bestowed on our little hillside is a peculiar and frustrating jumble of sand, orange clay, and an odd, finely grained dark gumbo that hardens to a cement-like consistency when dry; apparently the hill we live on was a dumping ground for the last glacier that went through here... all the leftovers that were of no use elsewhere were piled up here. Of course I then come along and want to grow rhododendrons, which are chancy at best in this climate even in good soil. Therefore, I made the wise, the logical, the obvious choice... I dig up the present soil in big swaths and haul it away, and replace it with a mix of peat, sand, composted bark, and leaf compost (all done by hand).
At top is a bed in the making: four feet wide, twelve feet long, two feet deep (rhodys are shallow-rooted... some of the other beds for deeper rooted plants are three feet deep), surrounded by my super fantastic black plastic mole and root barrier... in the second picture it's filled in, ready for the rhodys. I always remember on the original Victory Garden show on PBS, the host, James Crockett would take his bare hand and easily thrust it right down into the soil to pull up a rutabaga or something... I just wanted to slap him! Well, this soil mix is almost that good; but if you take a garden walk with me, please don't comment how easy it must be for me to grow so many different plants because of the great soil we have here.
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Great soil. There is nothing quite so inspiring as a bed that has not yet been planted.
What is the purpose of the containment material in the first picture? Is it for critters?
Philip... it's mainly a mole barrier, but I've realized it also keeps tree roots from filling up my beds. (By the way how ARE you... the epi. you gave me got chewed off a bit by the deer, but is regrowing nicely, and is in the greenhouse for the winter).
Work is busy. This sets out a little of what I have been up to.
I am planting lots of lilium, probably on top of something.
I can sympathize with you....we have had to bring in every bit of topsoil for my garden as the previous owner dozed the hillside down to rock and clay. That will be such a nice big planting bed...nice work!
Nice work!! I commiserate. We, too, have a yard of clay (and woodland soil).

I have never dug and hauled away any of it, but I have made several mounds and beds. In the past 5 years that we've lived here, I've had two huge dumptruck loads of topsoil brought in (with excellent help by some high schoolers with an extra wheelbarrow), as well as several pickup loads of composted soil brought home by moi.

I'm now looking for a week of pleasant weather so I can bring a pickup load of composted hardwood mulch to tuck in plants for the winter! :-)
Shady... sounds like you're going to be busy until the snow flies. I think fall is busier than spring, with the added anxiety of knowing the ground will soon be freezing. Some years I'm almost relieved when winter sets in (then a month later i'm sick of it and want spring).
That is kind of what we did to grow roses in, being close to a river, our soil is sandy.

I remember James Crockett, Victory Garden was on every Sunday afternoon at 4:30, I never missed it, I still have both of his books. :)
I understand the anxiety... plus, it seems there are too many other things to do during the day to be able to have a proper long stretch of time to do any of these Fall yard projects.
Believe it or not, I brought home 1/2 pickup load of dirt Monday and got it "distributed" that afternoon (whew!), shredded leaves Tuesday for awhile and put them on three beds (the crazy leaves just keep falling from the trees, don't-cha-know?), got my mulch today (BIG pickup load + a Pagoda Dogwood - I'm so excited!). I only had about 4 hours to work today... but got nearly 1/2 of the mulch done. Will do more shredding and mulching tomorrow - weather permitting.

Then, sigh, I'll be done and can do Winter Things. :-) Think I'll start a new post.
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