Saturday, July 10, 2010

Northern Gardening - Adding the Soil

I had about 10 cubic yards of natural top soil delivered to my side yard, and set out cleaning it of rocks and gravel before transporting it by 10 gallon pail over to the tubs. Even with my best efforts, I had to spend about 20 minutes picking out smaller stones by hand for each pailful I added. This small picture gives you an idea of the stony nature of our very best topsoil.

Once the three bathtubs were full (and a washing machine drum) I did a further sifting by hand using a plastic sieve used for pasta. The local golfers looked upon this is the ultimate proof that yours truly had utterly lost it, and I myself felt I looked like I was panning for gold in rusty bathtubs out back of the house. Eventually, though, I had about 3 inches of soil which was pretty free of any stone larger than a piece of kitty litter.

I still felt that there was not enough organic matter in the soil, and not having access to any compost or fertilizer, I broke with my principles and bought three 15-pound bags of top soil from the local co-op, which I mixed in with the top of the natural soil with a rake. The photo shows the contrast between the potting soil and what I got locally.

The washing machine drum with the rock and plywood on top is the beginning of what I hope will be a compost pile. In the past I've had little luck in this respect, with the vegetable matter becoming mummified rather than rotting and breaking down. But having learned that in Iqaluit they were able to get a pile above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I'm going to give it another go. I think I have to keep it more moist.

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