Last year, I chronicled my box garden conversion from random planting to the more calculated method, known as Square Foot Gardening. I had great success, but at the end of the season, I vowed that in 2011, I was going to replace all of the dirt in my box with new soil following the Square Foot Gardening recipe for a soil mix.
When I first set up my box garden about 9 years ago, I naively used soil that was dug up from another project on our property. Even though I amended the soil in my boxed garden with compost over the years, the majority of the soil was thick, heavy clay that made pulling root vegetables, like carrots, very difficult. The soil also made it very difficult to pull the massive weeds that thrived in the box. I couldn't keep up with the weeds and by the end of every summer I had a few choice words for all of the weeds, but this is a family site, so I'll keep those conversations private.
So this was the year that I was going to replace my soil. I asked my husband if he would mind if I moved the existing soil to our back yard where 10 holly trees mark our property line. He didn't have a problem with it, but he also had no desire to assist me with this nutty project. Besides, he would be working on spreading the 3 cubic yards of leaf compost that we ordered around the front yard landscape and other flower beds around our home.
The leaf compost was delivered on Friday morning and we started our projects by the afternoon and worked all weekend.
I started removing the dirt from my box about a week ago, because I knew it would take me several trips with the wheel barrow. Several is an understatement; I lost count!
The soil mix that is recommended in the Square Foot Gardening book is 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 Vermiculite, 1/3 Peat Moss. I admit that I didn't use blended compost. I used leaf compost, because we had 3 cubic yards sitting in our driveway. I will add my own compost to the box in the future.
The book recommends mixing the soil on a tarp. I used a hoe to mix together and when I was finished, my husband helped me dump each load into the garden.
I totally missed the first spring planting, but I'm okay with that. This project was a lot of work, but I noticed immediately the difference in the soil and I don't think I will ever regret my decision. The soil is lighter and so easy to maneuver. The last date of frost in my area is May 15, so this weekend I will be planting my summer vegetables and herbs. I'll post pictures next week of my finished garden.
Do you follow the Square Foot Gardening Method? How is the soil in your garden? Have you ever replaced all of it? How is your garden growing this spring? Let us know in the comments.
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This post is linked to Garden Party Tuesday at An Oregon Cottage.
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