Over the past three days, I have devoted hours and hours, and sweat and sore muscles and motivation and committment, not to mention $20 of soil additives and my most precious gardening commodity, ~ 8 cu. ft. of finished compost, to creating four raised beds. They are "Square Foot Style," 4x4'. I can't remember who it was on the TP board who gave me the umpteenth recommendation for Mel Bartholomew's book "Square Foot Gardening," but I finally went out and bought it. I decided that with our busy busy intense summers, this approach was the answer. Every year I ambitiously till and plant three or four 4'x18' beds of vegetables. And I cut corners on soil preparation, because I'm short on sand and compost and I'm too cheap to buy stuff to dump in. And I end up with dried out beds of evil weeds and dwarf ("alpinized") vegetables of pathetic yield.
So this year I decided to be sensible. Inspired by the Square-foot book, I would plant only a small area, preparing it obsessively and tending it diligently for maximum efficiency. I went out in the woods with the kids and found the edge-cuts of cedar logs that dh had milled last summer. I hand-sawed them to length, and the kids and I hauled them up to the driveway. We loaded the truck and hauled them back to the house/garden area. We got the drill and the T-square and together we braced, drilled and screwed some raised beds together out of this waste wood.
We drove out to a sandy creek and loaded four bins with sand. I bought a big bale of sphagnum peat. I opened up my bags of organic fertilizer. Our soil has virtually no Nitrogen and no Potassium, so a couple of years ago I bought a bag of greensand (for K) and blood meal (for N). Yeah, the bloodmeal was before I was totally vegetarian. Blood meal is a reasonable use for animal products that would otherwise go to waste, right?
I mixed my sand, peat, greensand, bloodmeal, precious compost and soil together lovingly. I fondled it. I cherished it. I wheelbarrowed it to the brand-new raised beds. I dumped it in. I smoothed it into the beds. I went and retrieved five wheelbarrow-loads of wood chips from the pile the hydro guys had left us last summer after falling and chipping trees from underneath power lines. I dumped the chips in the pathways between the raised beds. Everything looked so tidy! Fiona and Sophie chose one bed each as 'theirs'. We congratulated ourselves on a good day's work and went inside to dream of vegetables. Two beds were done, two more were almost done.
Our evil dog jumped the garden fence and dug up our raised beds. I can only think that the bloodmeal attracted her. She is a digger extroardinaire. Soil got sprayed everywhere, thoroughly mixed in with the wood chips on the paths. The fence had been pushed down in a couple of locations by bears last fall and was only about 2 1/2 feet high where it had got torn away from the gate-post. I just hadn't quite got around to repairing it. "Before we plant..." I had resolved.
Tonight Fiona (4) suggested "I will cut up Freya with a knife until she is in two pieces and then we can eat her meat and burn her and then we will attach her to a jet with a bungee and the jet will go to Africa and so will she." I felt somewhat better.