Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bed Rehab

It is November now and I'm doing all my plant overviews. This does not mean I'm not working hard in the garden. I'm trying to get all my work done before the first freeze hits. The weather has been very cooperative. It has been mostly sunny and cool. We have had very little rain which is good for me, but not so much for the plants.

I had two major projects to do over the last week and a half. I'll write another post about the second since this post got way too long, but the first was to finish double digging the lowest bed. This is the bed near the fence. It used to be an herb bed and hasn't been dug in over fifteen years. Last year I dug up the section that ended at the white row cover. The section past that to the corner of the fence had my tomato pails.

When Pam, another garden blogger, came over, she asked me why I didn't just plant the tomatoes straight into the ground. The answer is right above the bed. This bed is at the drip line of the maple tree in my front yard. It puts out a lot of roots into the bed. To reclaim it I had to hack out some 2" roots and as long as I use the bed, I'll have to double dig it out every couple of years.

When I dug down I found a truckload of stones, all compacted together like concrete. I took out the bigger ones by hand, but about halfway through the project I decided they all needed to go. So I sifted the bottom section of the double dig. Sadly I only did it for the far half. In this little 2'x5' section I took out buckets and buckets of rock. I probably took out 15-20 gallons of little rocks (the big rocks were set aside as they are useful).

The problem with taking out a lot of rock is that the soil level sinks. Usually when you double dig a bed it gets bigger. All the air added to the soil really fluffs it up. This time I sunk the level a bit. Whoops. I solved my problem by adding soil from the tomato pails to it. I put five of the pails' soil on top. This leveled it out quite well. I could still use a bit more, but I'll just add a lot of compost next year.

I usually say I have three beds in the garden, but this is the fourth. It is half as wide as the others. I consider it part of my upper bed in my rotation. The upper bed is only about 12' long while the lower bed is 21' long, so it adds just about the right amount of space to make them even. Sadly now the middle bed is the small bed in my rotation and it will have my tomatoes in it.


  1. Nothing like a double digging process to turn a garden bed into a high production growing area. It's a serious amount of labor to complete but so worth it in the end. I bet you see a big increase in out put from this bed next year.

  2. Good for you, Daphne, I'm so impressed! We know too well here what trying to fight maple roots is like. Aaarrgghhh!!!! Where do your herbs live now?

  3. That's a lot of work! I know how hard you're working -- hopefully the garden will reward you handsomely for the trouble.

  4. kitsapFG, I wouldn't have minded it so much if it either didn't have the rocks or didn't have the roots. Combined they are really hard to get out. You can't lever rocks up if roots are in the way and it is hard to cut the roots if there are rocks in the way.

    our friend Ben, My herbs were put where my old water garden was. My son and I created the water garden inside the veggie garden fence when he was little. He really wanted a waterfall. When my little solar panel that ran the pump died I decided to rip it up. Ben no longer cared about it and it was such a pain to keep care of. It is at the end of two of the beds in sort of a triangular area.

    Stefaneener, I'm sure it will. I'll plant squash here next year. I'm sad I had to buy so many of my squash. Next year hopefully I'll do better - at least if the weather cooperates.

  5. All that double-digging makes my back hurt - just thinking about it. It's Mel's Mix and raised beds for me, because my back has enough problems already!

  6. My body is aching just reading your post. That seems like a lot of hard work but I am sure it will be worth it in the long run when your plants can stretch their roots.

  7. Well that must have worked off some energy. The soil here is all rock to, I had to smash a bar into the ground to get it to loosen enough to shovel it. The fall is perfect timing to do the work though, nice and cool.

  8. EG, for some reason it doesn't bother me, but I take it slow and don't do more than about an hour and a half in one day.

    GrafixMuse, It will be worth it if my squash grow next year.

    Dan, it has been wonderful weather, sunny and cool. It just makes you want to be outside.