Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Vegetable Garden: Ha ha ha ha ha!

This is our first Spring in our Bigger Blue House here in New England, and so we face many firsts, one of which is starting a vegetable garden. We haven't gardened in two whole years, and Mulch Boy and I are anxious to get back to farming. The immediate challenges:

  1. Locating the best spot for the vegetable garden
  2. Preparing the location
  3. Figuring out the differences between gardening in Virginia versus Up Here
Finding The Best Spot turned out to be easy: it's right by the porch in the back yard, where Muriel the Naked Lady resides. Hours and hours of sunny sun make this plot ideal. As you can see in the first picture, there was already a bed built there--inconveniently covered in big white gravel, but still. Sandwiched between the cellar door and the porch, it's a well defined area that also could be easily expanded to twice the size by extending it to the edge of the porch. To work!

1. Take up that dumb gravel!

Bottom. Hands off, Muriel.

Mulch boy, triumphant.
2. Expand that bed!

Originally, the plot ended by the shovel on the left.

Getting bigger.
Getting bigger...
3. Dig in deep!

Dug in!
There's just one problem.

Awesome! Can you tell how dark and rich this soil is? We live near the confluence of two rivers, and the soil is definitely the beneficiary. People warned me about clay up here, but I laugh -- HA HA! -- at their concern. We've dug 18 inches down and not a speck of clay. (You may recall in Virginia that it was, essentially, all clay, plus whatever compost we personally mixed in.) It's too easy! This feels like cheating! This is going to be the best garden ever!

There's only one problem, not visible from this picture: pea gravel. 

So yes, we (meaning Mulch Boy) dug down 18 inches. And yes, the soil is sweet and dark and wormy and perfect. However, 4 inches down we (he) struck pea gravel. As in, an inches-deep layer of solid pea gravel. What th--?

Seriously. No one loves rocks more than I do. One of the joys of this yard is all the rocks. So many big wonderful rocks! I even like pea gravel--it's pretty! But why, why, why bury a giant layer of it?

We have theories. One is a long-ago patio of gravel. Another is a long-ago extended graveled bed. Perhaps purposely covered over with soil, perhaps buried by years of neglected leaves. I previously discovered a buried section of brick sidewalk in our front yard, so this is not our first archaeological experience here. Still, it brought things to a halt while we pondered a solution to the problem of how to turn the gravel quarry into a usable garden patch. After initially declaring it impossible, Mulch Boy of course came up with a solution.

To be continued...

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