Sunday, May 24, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Garden Edition

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.

And here's me- tired, a little sunburned and so sore I can barely walk.  After a hot shower, Dr. Hauschka arnica and birch body oil and 9 hours of sleep, I'm a little less sore and a lot less tired.  And I'm ready for Day 2!  


Cafe Cyan said...

Liz - look at you! You worked so hard and are so inspiring to never quit. That's awesome!! Great job! May you have the best garden ever this year :)

selina said...

wow that is a lot of work. but it will be so worth it in the end.

i love your planter boxes btw.

aimee said...

Hey, how about a close-up of what looks to be a seriously cool tattoo on your arm?! I thought you were behind some large leaves! That looks awesome!

Bex said...

That is going to shape up to be one awesome garden. Well done! That is inspiring.

VeganCowGirl said...

holy intense project!!! Love love love it. And love the kitty picture - ours have fallen in love with our (tiny) garden here in Brussels, and have managed to lovingly kill our chives...its worth it though to see their cute little heads in the garden.

Good luck with your garden!

eileen said...

Yay new garden! you can do it! you guys took on Such a huge project so suddenly, and now it's almost done! think how excited and relieved you'll be when everything is done and all the plants are well on their way to producing massive mid-August amounts of homegrown vegetables. sweet!

Sophia.Pflieger said...

Your garden will look fantastic soon enough! All that hard work will pay off.

aTxVegn said...

That looks like a LOT of hard work. You are going to have the best garden ever.

mickey said...

I know its not the same as the city picking it up for you, but you can recycle your #5 plastics by dropping them off at Whole Foods (evil, I know). But at least its an option if you need to clear up some space until the city comes to its senses...


News: You Can Recycle Your #5 Plastic and Brita Filters

Want to turn your empty medicine bottle or used Brita filter into a toothbrush?

Preserve, a member of our Green Business Network, can do that for you.

As a producer of recycled personal-care and kitchen products, Preserve has partnered with Stonyfield Farms for many years, refashioning its organic yogurt containers into a line of recycled plastic toothbrushes, razors, mixing bowls, food-storage containers, and more.

As of January, Preserve has expanded its collection efforts with its new "Gimme 5" program, allowing you to recycle all of your #5 plastic – whatever its origin -- into Preserve products.

Mail your plastics directly to Preserve , or deliver them to participating Whole Foods Markets, which are serving as collection centers.