Monday, July 5, 2010

Garden cement

In June we had about eight inches of rain.  I could not get near my garden -- the soil (originally heavy clay, now somewhat amended in the five years I've lived here) was slimy.

Now we've had dry weather for a week.  And I have a layer of clay cement on the top of each bed.  These zinnias struggle to expand with the hardscrabble crust.  The one on the left has a single sad blossom -- a last ditch effort by the plant to pass its genetics along to another generation.

This bed was equally crusted, and full of weeds.  I've not yet been able to plant due to all the water.  So this morning I began cracking it with a pitchfork, then laboriously crushing each clod by hand to remove the copious amounts of weed roots.  I throw them on the grass next to the bed, then once they've cooked in the sun for a while, I'll run the mulching mower over them, careful to have the "exhaust" chute pointed away from the raised bed.

This is the second time in my five years gardening here that the weather has caused such a horrible situation.  My plot is not large enough to redirect the water anywhere, so I think I will need to do a major rebuilt with higher raised beds to attempt to avoid a repeat.

Any ideas are welcome!


The Vegetarian Hunter said...

May I suggest not only raising the bed, but adding in some sand, I use play sand, some peat moss and a few bags of black earth soil. There are not many things that will grown in clay. Annuals make a good stab at it - but you have to replace them every year! If you add these components, you will not only have thriving annuals, but you can have healthy perennials that come back every year. Just make sure you pick ones that are suited for the areas amount of sun and water.
Happy gardening!!

The JR said...

I agree with The Vegetarian Hunter. Raise and amend the beds. Hard work to start out, but a lot labor intensive after that.