Garden Project 2016 — Part 6

Reader Contribution by Allan Douglas
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There is a spot at the low corner of my yard where twigs pile up against the chain link when it rains, and this filters the top soil out of the run-off. I’ve had a pad building up down there that is now about 8” deep, so I dug that out, loaded it into my wagon …

… and used the good topsoil to fill in the pits left when I removed the old (small) garden boxes. I moved plugs of grass I cut out during trenching into that good dirt, and I water it when I remember. As it settles, I’ll need to keep filling to restore the proper slope of the ground. Once that’s established, I can try seeding to fill in between the plugs. The row where I still have a couple of boxes is the row that will be fruit trees/bushes once all those boxes have been removed.

I have a pile of clay-dirt that was created when an excavator made the drainage ditch for us. Been there for years. Packed down and hard as concrete.

I’m busting that up with a pick-axe and shoveling the clay into the bottom of the low corner of the veggie bed. I piled scrap lumber from the dead garden boxes in there first. When I get a good pile of dirt ready, I use a rake to pull it out along the wall and fill in around the lumber. That piece of fencing is just sitting there; I set it down to shovel.

I’m thinking clay in the bottom is a lot cheaper than filling it with good topsoil. Free is good. The wood and clay will work into a hegelkultur, but it’s down deep enough that about the only thing that might get down to it will be potatoes. And maybe not them (once the box is filled).

I also loaded some clay into the wagon and brought it around to the gate. Since nothing will ever be grown just inside this gate, I don’t want to waste good garden soil here. I spread in a layer of clay, tamp it down good, and spread in another layer. I have a couple more layers to go, then I will cover the pad with landscape fabric and cover that with paver stones.

I’m making the fence panels from the fence boxes by simply rearranging the parts. That means they’re not as finished-looking as they might be (using three-way corners instead of elbows) but I don’t want to invest in more PVC parts if I can avoid it.

I will need to add stanchions (probably pressure treated 1x4s) to support the fence panels in the long runs.

I fasten the panels in place with plumber’s strapping and washer-headed screws. That will make removing them again easy, if I need to. One reason I might want to do that is that my chipper has a low discharge that blows chips into a big, heavy-duty bag. If I remove a fence panel at the high corner of the garden (where the wall is lowest) I can blow the chips directly into the garden (between growing seasons) and rake them out across the patch. That way I’d bypass the task of carrying the 80 to 100 pound bag (multiple times) through the garden gate and lifting it to shake the chips out.

I’m laying corrugated cardboard over the grass inside the new wall to kill it and covering that with enough soil to hold it in place. Unlike landscape fabric, the cardboard will decompose once it’s done its job and allow roots to grow down through it. Hopefully the grass will die out over the winter and not come pushing back up through the garden soil in the spring.

That’s about it. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing as I can afford the materials, through the winter until it’s done.

That will involve completing the wall and fence panels, and removing the wooden boxes and landscape fabric from inside my vegetable patch. I will need to make a lot of dirt to fill this mega-box, but I can do that by adding chipped brush, baled peat, and kitchen waste. That will be an on-going task throughout the life of this vegetable garden, because the organics in the soil break down and need constant replenishment.

Blondie Bear has finally come to grips with this project. She’s decided this thing makes a good spot for her South Watch Tower. She’ll be happy until I get the rest of the fencing installed. Then I’ll just have to build her another tower to watch from.

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