Monday, March 31, 2008

We've been digging up a garden site for almost a month now. Not steady, just a bit on the weekends and whenever we get a bit of time during the week. It's obvious though, that we really need to pick up the pace if our healthy little seedlings are to have a home by next week, when they're too big to stay in the flats.

Saturday (after running 10 miles, mind you), Erika and her dad set to unearthing the largest, heaviest garden boulder to date. With a combination of steel bars, 2x4s, and grunts, they dug out and leveraged this monolith out of the bed.

Then, as if they'd done this before, they propped it up on small sections of pvc pipe and a plank track and shuttled it down the yard a bit and set it in position as the cornerstone of the stone wall that we plan to redo.

Meanwhile, I was fulfilling a week-long dream of constructing a sieve. Even though we remove about a half dozen boulders and a large mound of rocks for every 12'x5'x1' bed we dig, the soil is still incredibly stony. Carrots wouldn't stand a chance in here, and to be honest I've had my doubts about any of our tender seedlings' chances of survival in such harsh beds.

We bought a roll of 1/4" screen (1/4" refers to the size of the holes in the screen) and I whacked together a 2x4 frame sized to fit nicely on top of the garden cart. I used "safety staples" to attach the screen to the frame.

Took it over to the garden and tossed a couple of shovels-full of soil onto it. Moved the dirt around with my hands and voila, rocks on top, soil below!

So from there, I just started digging a trench across the bed, one foot wide and one foot deep, much like our old days of double-digging. When the sieve would fill, we'd dump the rocks into the wheel barrow. When the wheel barrow would fill, we would dump the rocks in the trench for the hot water lines, since it has settled quite a bit. Once I had a nice two-foot wide trench dug out, I set up some planks in the there to keep the sifted soil separate from what still needed to be sifted, and shoveled the nice soft soil back into the bed. I was totally surprised that it had fluffed up enough to bring the bed back to ground-level.

Also that day, while Erika was digging bed #3, we discovered a baby turtle shell, caked and packed with dirt. Who knows how deep it was buried. We were all pretty excited by this find.

And then it woke up!

The quarters are for scale:

* * *

Sunday was a nice grey day, and we spent a couple of hours pricking out seedlings from their flats and putting them into cells.

We transplanted broccoli, chard, kale, collards, lettuce, arugula, and turnips. We had a lot of seedlings left over, and rather than compost them, Erika cut them at their bases, rinsed them off, and made a nice little salad out of these micro-greens. Even at only two weeks old, arugula tastes like arugula, as does broccoli and chard. We took an eyes-closed taste test just to prove it to ourselves.

Hello, Chard:

Hello, Beets:

We also planted spinach and some more kale, since we only ended up with 5 plants germinated, as if 5 kale plants isn't enough. But, better safe than sorry. We can always thin them once we plant in the beds.

- John

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