The steel dandelion puller that I tried to poke into the lawn where we would start a garden four years ago bent before I could dig more than an inch deep. The earth was that miserably hard. We have a great southern exposure at our site, giving us lots of beautiful sunshine. But we have struggled with the ground beneath our feet since the beginning.
Removing sod for new beds is nearly impossible. Really strong men have asked not to be invited back after volunteering their rototilling prowess. Thus, we mostly build up, constructing simple wooden frames that we fill with compost kindly delivered by the city’s Department of General Services. But that has drawbacks, too. We have to fund our lumber purchases and we are pretty slow builders. An additional challenge with the earth where we garden is really poor drainage. We are hemmed in to a small corner of space we might use – schoolyard that’s not used for ball fields – because water pools on much of the surface for weeks at a time.
So this is what we are trying next: We planted about 10 feet by 100 feet with winter rye in September, hoping its long roots will help break up some of our heavy clay. It grew a couple of inches tall in the fall. In fact, that’s two-inch tall winter rye in the picture at the top of this page. It should easily survive our winter and resume growing in the spring. We absolutely must cut it down before it goes to seed. So we may be looking for a lawnmower to borrow in April or May. And then we’ll try to push a spade into the soil and find out what we have accomplished.
C’mon and join us when it’s time. We had Family Days in the Garden on Saturdays, April 13 and May 4 last spring. We will probably get together about the same time this coming spring.