Updated: Mar 20
Our property is mostly wooded, so when we moved in we decided to wait a while before deciding on a garden spot so that we could observe the way the sun hits different openings through the seasons. After our observations we decided that the perfect spot was a large open area just a few feet from our kitchen (how perfect). Unfortunately, the previous owners had decided that this spot was perfect for an above ground inflatable pool, and later on in their time here, a trash pit. Another problem we had noticed with this area is that whenever it rained, the entire spot flooded and didn’t drain. We knew this meant that we would have to add fill dirt to the area to make it level.
I want to eventually sell my produce at Farmers Markets and I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of growing vegetables in an area that had a bunch of trash in it. Every day I went out to the spot and picked up trash. In my work I got to play archaeologist. This is my discovery of the people that were here before:
The people decided that an inflatable pool would be the perfect addition to their property. The people put an inflatable pool up, but it popped quickly from sticks and rocks. They were lazy people and didn’t bother removing the pool. They regrouped and came up with a solution for the popping pool problem. Solution: lay a large tarp down, then top that with foam boards and plywood, then more foam boards, then one more tarp. Finally an inflatable pool was placed. The years progressed and the pool lost its appeal. Eventually the pool was completely neglected. It dried up, hardened in the sun, developed cracks, and finally crumbled in sun rot. Many storms come and go through the time and new growth emerges as soil settles atop the pit. Owner (who was a hoarder) passes away. New owners come along to revamp the property. Removed all the hoarded items (shoes, toys, clothes, comic books, etc.) from inside the house to this perfect trash pit area (and to the crumbling garage on the property).
I think you get the picture now of what I was dealing with. I had a LOT of work to do to clean up the area. We had loads of trash that we had to move off site. Every time I pulled at a piece, it would crumble to hundreds of pieces. The foam boards and rotted tarp had roots growing through them. It was a mess and will most certainly be the thing that I will blame my back problems on as I age.
Though it was still a low spot, it dried up much faster now that all the trash was removed. We left the area alone so it could heal. It was like a bad wound that had gotten infected, cut open and cleaned up, and now needed to heal correctly. In April, Konrad built a level perimeter form to make a 580sq ft area. We brought in a truck load of fill dirt and smoothed it out evenly. Then we brought in 12 yards of mushroom compost. I have a really cool time lapse video of us placing the compost with the tractor and our shovels. Be careful watching it though, your back and arms might hurt just watching the work! We had to do all the work in one day so that we wouldn’t lose any valuable soil to a scattering rain. Konrad, who never ceases to amaze me, ended the day by setting up a ramp and doing countless flips off it into the garden area.
You may be thinking, “and now they can plant their seeds!”. Nope! We see deer and rabbits on our property almost everyday. Next step towards a garden is fencing it in. Konrad and I set 11 posts, and stretched an 8 foot fence around the perimeter. I drew up an entrance design and Konrad built it from scratch. It makes me think of the Secret Garden. We raked the garden into rows and I planted the following day. The Living Seed Company has a wide variety of heirloom, organic, non-GMO seeds available. Please be responsible to our planet and purchase from organic companies that are doing their part for our planet, the price difference is worth it! We started really late into the season (May) so we weren’t expecting a ton of growth but it did a lot better than we expected! We have been testing a variety of weed preventatives, including this weed barrier, and I will create a post discussing how they worked. Each year in the garden is new and brings learning opportunities!