Monday, May 9, 2011

Dig This

Digging. Why does it seem so many of my projects involve digging?

I put in a retaining wall and steps in our last house. That was about nine yards of earth. When we put in a new sewer line in the House of 42 Doors, the excavator left a nice pile of dirt that needed spreading out. That was probably three yards. The previous owner built a three car garage, and as part of that, there was a nice pile of dirt that he left next to the garage. That was another four yards. The compost heap in the backyard that had been there since time immemorial was four feet high and six feet in diameter, so another three yards there. The hundred or so yews I put in required digging, although only a little bit at a time.

And now we've started another project with more digging. This project started out as an idle drawing and an idea that I showed to Ms. Huis. She liked it, and grabbed it. We wanted a vegetable garden at the house, and cleared out a a 25 foot wide and 60 foot long swath of scrub (mostly buckthorn) to get it. Unfortunately, we discovered the land there was not suited for a garden. While the top 2 inches were nice black soil, beneath that was a two to three inch layer of compacted gravel. All of our root vegetables would grow two inches and just give up. Our carrots were like stubby, fat fingers. So the answer was raised beds. And what would go between these raised beds? Brick paths, of course.

So that means digging down about 12 inches, putting in about 7 inches of base, and then another 2 inches of sand. We have 276 square feet of path we're installing, so that adds another 10 yards of earth to the tally. I haven't done all the digging; there's been plenty of help from Ms. Huis, the in-laws and even our youngest. It's awful stuff though, with the old compacted gravel, and the tree roots from the scrub we took out.

I'll be glad when the project is done so that I can move onto other house projects. Progress to date can be viewed here.

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