Friday, April 2, 2010

Getting the Clay out of Clayton

My back will probably never straighten out after yesterday. All because my sweet Annie wants purple carrots. Which means I need a root bed to plant them in.

I don't know why I didn't think about the fact that I live in a city built on solid clay before letting Annie pick out purple carrot seeds. I guess part of me thought the entire yard can't be clay. I was wrong. All of Clayton is clay. It has two inches of top soil spread over hundreds of miles of solid heavy clay.

So back to my dilemma. Root veggies need need nutrient rich soft loose soil, not hard clay. So I needed to find an area that would be contained to dig out and refill. The clay is actually a great container in a way. It's just hollowing out the container that sucks. I went with "Mels Mix" for the soil composition. If you've heard of Square foot gardening then you know what it is. If you don't, it's basically, 1/3 Compost, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite. Not the cheapest route to go, but it's a amazing how well things grown in it, and how low the maintenance is.
So this is what I started with:

I tend to garden to opposite way. Most people lay out their garden on paper and block things out before they start anything. I can't do this. I have to actually see the canvas I am working with in order to plan out where everything goes.

So I decided to put the root veggie bed in the middle. It will be a great container with very clear boarders. It's hard to tell from here, but this is dug out two feet deep.

After I finished digging I realized I couldn't reach the center from the edge of the bricks and you cannot walk on a root bed. It will compact the very soil you are trying to loosen, so I made a bridge from clay in the middle.

But that took up to much planting space, so I backed it off to just go halfway through.

It was really late when I finished, so I took a picture this morning. This is the bed filled in and ready for seeds.

10 hours of back breaking labor for Annie's purple carrots. If she doesn't eat them I will most likely cry for a month. If she does it was a day well spent.


rachel @ perfectly imperfect said...

this is SO cool! i've always admired potager gardens, and yours is shaping up beautifully! if annie won't eat the purple carrots, i will. : )


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