Grit Blogs > Another Kind of Drew

How to Plant a Garden ...

... one seed at a time!

HAHAHAHAHAHAH. Sometimes I even make myself laugh. How to plant a garden is a DIY that is explored in newspapers, magazines and on blogs year after year after year. I have realized that there is no tried and true way of planting a garden. Sure you need good soil, you need a bit of compost, you need seeds, you need a water source and few other things. You especially need desire and ambition. But what you DON'T need is a set of directions composed by anyone other than yourself.

As Pan and I looked over the garden this past week we compared our space with our garden plan and a few extra seeds we had gotten courtesy of Tina Wilson from Small Town Living. I remember thinking early Saturday morning as the sun was already overhead and the temperature was climbing as the Action 2 weatherman said it would, "How can anyone really tell me how to plant a garden; especially this garden. No one else has walked this part of Earth. They haven't touched this dirt. This year we're just going to do what feels right to us." And so we did.

Earlier in the week I came home to see a garden plot of the freshest, darkest, most beautiful soil I had seen in a long time. Pan had spent the whole day literally sifting the dirt we hauled home from the county landfill. Now this dirt was dumped already being beautifully composted, rich soil. But it comes with some trash and a lot of sticks and rubble. But for Pan 504 square feet of junky looking garden was not her idea of a good start. So she literally used hardware cloth to sift the dirt and leave behind nothing more than the freshest, most clean topsoil we could ask for.

Sifting the soil

What soil remains after the sifting.

Just the remaining dirt

Even now as I sit here writing her efforts amaze me. I could absolutely take a lesson in her dedication and her ambition. But back to Saturday ... (keep reading for the rest of our garden story).

anotherkindofdrew
4/2/2010 6:49:22 PM

@Paul - You are absolutely right and if we were just sifting to remove sticks or large rocks or something of that nature we would ultimately face some issues with a depletion of nutrients. Our sifting though was to remove debris that inevitably ends up in landfill dirt (especially the free kind) - plastic bits from trash bags, wires, diaper fragments, even a spoon! Great insight though. Thank you for adding to this dialogue!


paul gardener
4/2/2010 11:53:41 AM

Whoa! That's a lot of work! The garden looks great though. I can't agree with you more too about how every gardener needs to know his own land. Spot on! If I can be sold bold as to make one comment about the sifting soil. While it's nice to do and looks phenomenal, the only think to be cautious of with it is that it can help cause the same problems that you would get with over-tilling a garden bed; the breakdown of the soil structure. If you've ever noticed how flour will settle lower and lower into a container over time until it's more compacted than it was to start with that's what can happen. The smaller the particles are, the tighter they can fit together and the less room that is left for air and water retention. Also, the plants like to have those natural little pathways for their roots to slide through with little effort. She's not sifting your soil, just the compost so I wouldn't worry about it too much, just something to think of in the future. I've actually found that having a lot of little "bits" in my soil gives me a much looser soil over time. I really look forward to watching how all your work rewards you this season, should be bountiful! Paul~


anotherkindofdrew
4/2/2010 6:16:20 AM

@Nebraska Dave - Right YOU are. My yard is much different from my closest neighbors. He lives a little higher in altitude (not that middle Georgia is that mountainous...more foothills) and has much more rock sediment in his dirt. I should keep better records. Alas, the constant lament of gardeners - trying to remember how you did it before and wondering why you didn't journal it. Pan is determined. You are right about that. She just wanted that dirt to be optimal. I probably would have left some chunks too but I stood in awe at the finished product. It was as if the soil was what we were growing. hahahaha. We'll see how the harvest goes! Thanks for the well wishes.


nebraska dave
4/1/2010 10:32:43 PM

Drew, it is so true there is no other dirt just like your dirt anywhere else in the world. Also there is no other micro climate just like your garden area. Farmers and gardens need to get to know their land and what the needs of their land are. It could very well be quite different then even the neighbor next door. I’ve come from being a black thumb gardener to a some what successful experimental growing of plants with a lot of improvement needed. I’ve found that even different parts of my small plot have different needs. I know that I really should keep better records about my growing patterns and maybe this will be the year to get that started. Pan is a very determined woman. Me not so much. I can live with few chunks in my compost. I admire those that keep a tidy garden but just don’t have the gumption to do it myself. I did have burst of energy last fall and built a couple more garden beds but that quickly past and I went back to my usual couch potato self. This Spring has juiced me up a bit and I’m ready to begin planting those extra beds but have to wait until the last frost date of May 15th passes. I hope all of Pan’s sifting work pays off in a great harvest for you.