Here's the story of my garden makeover, with no plastic surgery or bulldozers involved.
On Friday I took my last look at the garden as I've known it for the past 4 years. It's admittedly taken some neglect over the past couple of weeks, as I finished my planting/seeding and then found out about the lead. I shouldn't have taken my anger out on the plants, but I didn't water anything for a week. I gave it the silent treatment. Then I remembered how much I paid for the plants and resumed watering.
A good friend came over to help un-plant the garden. Luckily I've been saving my yogurt containers for the day when Saint Paul starts recycling more than #1 and #2 bottle neck plastic bottles. They make great pots for plants! The seeded plants stayed behind because they were too fragile and it shouldn't take long for new seeds to pop up. But the broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, parsley, dill, cilantro and probably some I'm forgetting are sitting in my garage right now in various states of thriving or dying. Hopefully more of the former.
Then the serious manual labor started. My garden had trenches dug between beds to form informal raised beds. And huge heavy stones for the main path. We discovered a massive ant colony when moving the stones.
For the record, this is the only photo Mike took that didn't focus completely on my butt. The camera saw the "St. Kate's" text on the shorts and wanted to focus right in. Or at least that's what he told me.
The soil was delivered on Friday, too. It's a 50/50 blend of topsoil and composted manure. Some of the soil blends I looked at at garden centers were super dead looking. This stuff is rich and light and black. Big thanks to Kern Landscaping in Saint Paul for actually knowing where their dirt and manure come from (no one else could tell me!). And for fitting the full 10 cu yds on one delivery. I agonized over this decision and am totally happy with the soil quality.
Sorry neighbors! I'll move it soon!
On Saturday afternoon Mike and I started by leveling the rest of the garden trenches and dumping our poor, unusable leaded compost onto the garden surface. Then we covered the whole area in commercial grade landscaping fabric. I'm not usually a fan of this stuff in gardens, but it will keep the leaded soil from blowing around and ending up back on my veggies' leaves.
Here's what the garden looked like at the end of the day. I may have been a little ambitious in thinking that I'd be able to get all the beds built and filled in one day with my friends' help. Just a little.
I worked from 1pm until 8pm and was completely exhausted by the day's end. My RSVPs petered out to 3 super awesome garden helpers, so the odds were against us to get everything done! We got 3 beds built (so now 4 total are done) and filled 3 mostly with soil. Mike even carted dirt after getting home from work at 10pm! Trouble thinks this is a new racetrack area just for her.
Here's a closer picture of the beds and the lone rhubarb plant that will keep its roots in the leaded soil.