Thursday, April 2, 2009

Our garden

There's a reason I've been less than prolific here on the blog lately. We're creating a public garden here in Commerce, and I've been hauling and trenching and organizing just about full time for the past week and a half. Part time before that.

Here are a few pictures of what we've accomplished so far.

The land we leased hasn't been tilled for about 40 years, so it needed some attention. First it was tilled using equipment that belongs to Cereal Crops Research, Inc., an area non-profit that's been working with farmers in this area for a couple of decades to determine which cultivars are most successful in our climate and our soil conditions. The big John Deere machine below is disking with only its central part as it passes over the heavy "Blackland gumbo" at first. The greater weight on a smaller footprint was necessary to break up the heavy soil. Later the big wings came down for further passes.

After the soil was loosened, we applied two cubic yards of composted chicken manure to the area, and that was tilled in. Next came amendments to loosen the soil further, specifically three truckloads of salvaged potting soil. This was tilled in before it could blow away.

Since this area has been in a steady drought for the past few years, we determined to develop an irrigation plan involving drip lines to conserve water. The plan involved laying PVC pipes underground to each of the 36 individual garden plots. Trenching and plumbing were completed this week.

While the digging was being done, a few of us also worked on setting the raised beds in place -- no easy task. Those suckers are heavy.

Still to do are moving amended soil into most of the raised beds and mulching the pathways around them. County government has donated about 130 cubic yards of mulch, and we expect a number of volunteers to descend on us Saturday morning in conjunction with a larger civic event scheduled for that day.

This morning the mulch pile was steaming in the cool sunlight.

Our plan is to begin signing up gardeners on Saturday. Planting will commence soon.

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