When I cleared out the old wood pile from the yard last year, the soil I found below was a very pleasant surprise. Still, there was a whole lot of clean up that needed to be done this spring, before we could plant anything. We were still finding some pretty strange things in there! The biggest challenge was all the tree roots crisscrossing the area.
Now that we’ve had our first vegetables growing in there, it was interesting to see what was coming up along with them! After being buried by a wood pile for decades, there were still seeds and root systems that managed to survive and sprout. There was plantain (the weed, not the banana!), which is not surprising; that stuff can grow anywhere and is very hardy. Clover was more of a surprise, but there was also a lot of some long, delicate green plant that I didn’t recognize at all. I thought it might be a flower of some kind, but it never had any. There were flowers that came up, too, and since they came up where the khol rabi failed, to, I let them bed until today, when they were basically done blooming, anyhow.
All this meant that in digging over the beds, I was basically stopping with every fork full to break up the soil with my hands, so I could pull out as many weeds with their roots as I could.
I also found tree roots I’d missed in the spring!
While fighting with the roots, my feet sinking into the soft, soft soil, I kept thinking about where and how we would plant the garlic. The spaces to walk on, in between the beds of carrots and beets we’d planted, was packed down harder than the rest, of course, and it almost seemed like wasted soil!
Also, I discovered that, like the girls had discovered when planting deep bulbs, it seems even here, there is only about 8 inches of topsoil before I started hitting a lot of rocks.
We’ve got three kinds of garlic coming, which meant three beds. How and were did I want to arrange them?
Then I remembered I still had a 4’x8′ frame from the goat catcher we’d built.
Those are coming in very handy!
I dragged it over, and the area I’d worked on turned out to be almost exactly the size of the frame!
That’s when I started to go a bit crazy.
I started to dig out the soil inside the frame.
Hitting more roots, of course.
By this time, plan had started to form in my mind.
All the stuff I’d added to the compost a little while before?
It ended up in the space I’d shoveled out, along with some damp straw that I raked up from around the old dog houses, where they had been used as insulation around them.
When it came time to return the soil to the space, I kinda went overboard again…
I kept digging.
The vague plan in my mind took into account walking paths, and I didn’t want to be sinking in the soil. The pieces of wood I’d used to walk on weren’t very stabled, but what if…
What if they were laid down on an area that was dug down and leveled to just above the gravel?
So after I used a hoe and rake to even out the mound of soil, I used them to even out the pathway and started laying down boards.
This is how far I got before stopping for supper.
This is where I pause to say how much I appreciate the girls. While I’m outside doing stuff like this – which I consider fun – they’re inside taking care of the cooking and housework – which I loathe.
Then I went back to finish the job, and this is how it looked.
The wood I was using was salvaged from the junk pile in the spring, and some of if was slightly wider. I used the wider ones to make “walls” on either side of the path, then laid down three layers of boards in the middle. This made them a lot more stable to walk on, and also made the path the same thickness as the height of the “walls”. I had to cut a few to size to fill in gaps at the ends, which worked out all right.
This is old wood, some of which was already starting to rot. If I’d had the option, I would have put down gravel or something. These will do the job for now, and perhaps some day we’ll replaced them with flagstones or something.
When the girls came out to see how it looked, I snagged one of them to help me move the frame to the other side of the path.
This is where the second bed will be.
With 3 varieties of garlic, it looks like I’ll have to make three of these. It looks like there is just barely enough space to do that, before reaching the metal ring around the compost, though I could put the third one at a right angle to the others, instead.
I don’t know if I’ll be up to doing three of them! I don’t know how many cloves we’ll get out of a pound of seed garlic, each. If I do only two, I could split one variety between the two beds.
We shall see, after the second one is done.
I made a whole lot more work for myself by doing this, but… I think I like it better!