Saturday, October 3, 2009

Working Hard

This last week has been extremely busy in the garden. My major chore for the week was to double dig the potato bed. The rest of the bed had been double dug in the spring and I did't want to leave this section out of the fun.

Fun for the plants that is not necessarily for me. I did a section that was a little bit bigger than the bin itself, so had a 4'x5 1/2' section to do. This probably took a total of three hours to dig. The top part is so easy, but the bottom sections have maple tree roots and a clay rock mix that is like cement. It is what takes all of my time.

I removed a nice host of big rocks to add to my collection. You may have noticed that I use rocks for edging and for holding down row covers. They are very useful. The smaller rocks I put on the rock pile near my neighbor's fence in the back. I always think it is such a waste to remove rocks. Rocks have so many good minerals in them. I wish I had an easy and safe way to crush them.

I added three inches of compost mixed into the bottom subsoil part that was double dug, just as I did in the spring. Hopefully it will encourage the worms to keep that well tilled without me. Between that and the fluffing up of the soil, I raised the level of the bed up by six inches. I had to add another layer of logs on to keep the soil contained. I'm sure it will compact down a bit over the winter, but I might make it worse by planting my garlic here. If I do, then I will mulch it which will add another three inches.

I found a few treasures buried in the ground. I had missed some potatoes. These are the ones that I dug out one day. The next day I found even more including a huge one. How did I miss a 10 ounce potato? Needless to say I was happy to add them in to the tally.

I have more sections that I would love to get double dug this fall, but what doesn't happen now will have to happen in the spring. I have a section by the fence that is overrun with maple tree roots. The section is at the tree's drip line). I would love to dig it up and loosen the soil. In the past I've kept herbs here, but since I moved the herb bed over to the other side of the garden a few years back I don't need to keep it here. The only loss would be my old sage plant and a thyme I'm not as in love with as I used to be. Oh and an oregano that I have duplicated in the new herb bed. This year the space was used to house my tomato pails. Except for the nasty maple tree, it is a great spot in the garden. It gets more sun than any other section.

My other chore this week was the continued removal of dying plants, removal of the trellises and weeding of the ground that I haven't seen since spring. I have more clean up to do, but this weekend is getting rained out so the rest will have to wait for drier weather.

As you can see the garden looks pretty bare. It lacks its vertical structure not to mention the plants. I have just two bamboo poles left and the trellis against the fence for the cucumbers. And white alien pods are taking over the garden. As it gets colder more will pop up. The lettuce will be covered. The chard will get covered. The mache will get covered if it comes up (I think I have three little mache plants now - maybe).

Compare that to this photo at the height of summer (August 4th). My jungle is gone.


  1. The double dug bed looks gorgeous. I am a huge fan of double dug raised beds - big productivity increase for the effort. I always find more potatoes in the bed - often the following spring.

    The garden "tidy up" is going well.

  2. What a difference in the comparison photos. Double digging and amending now is smart as you'll be ready for next year.

    I cleaned up one of my beds yesterday. I still have a lot to do but the weather is not cooperating this weekend.

  3. Wow, that before and after is striking! I wish sometimes, that we could just fend off Autumn, slow it down somehow, it's hard to let go of Summer. I want to wear flip flops and shorts as long as possible!

  4. I too have been getting the garden ready for the winter. I have not got around to covering the beds yet and must get to it ASAP Yesterday I pulled all the spent tomato plants, I am sad to see them go.

  5. The first pic got me doing a double take ! That looks just like my garden at the moment. Spade and all.
    Hard work pays off, Daphne. Looking good !
    Just thinking here... would raising the bed(s) (even higher) over the roots help ?

  6. kitsapFG, I think double dug beds are great too. If only they weren't so much work.

    GrafixMuse, nope lots of rain this weekend. It will make the plants happy, but it would have been nice to have the rain yesterday and a nice clear day today.

    Lzyjo, I like the contrast in the photos too. It really shows you how much has been taken out. The one good thing about the cold weather is that double digging is so much easier. I could never do it in the heat of the summer. Fall is perfect though.

    keewee, my tomato plants are long gone. I so envy those that still have some. Sad that you had to pull yours out.

    Miss M, yup it is that time of the year. I hope I get a lot of digging in this October before it gets really cold. No higher raised beds is just an invitation for them to colonize even more space. They run their thick main roots just over the hard packed soil, then send feeders up. So whatever I do I have to chop off the main roots as they enter the bed. That is the best way to reclaim the bed for the year. I suppose I could build up to avoid digging into the cement like soil, but nah. I've never trucked in soil before and I don't think I'm going to start now. I can fix it. It just takes time and work.

  7. All of that double digging is making my back hurt! We have so many trees around the property, that I always hit roots, too. I can't believe you didn't hit those potatoes with the shovel.

  8. EG, nope I hit none of those potatoes with a shovel. Maybe I should shovel up all my potatoes since I did kill many with my fork.

  9. That work will have to pay off handsomely. The roots are a pain. You might have to put in some kind of barrier, I suppose. We're lucky in the lack of invasive roots, mostly. And that sandy sandy soil . . . Your fall garden just looks expectant to me.

  10. Your double-dug bed is just gorgeous, Daphne. Great job!!! And I of course love the current view of your comparatively "bare" beds because you can see the great structure, the gorgeous soil, and all the hard work and planning that went into its creation! Congrats on the potatoes, too!