Ever wonder what 29 TONS of compost looks like? The first picture shows 29 tons, delivered last week by Tom Hertzler. When I told my sister we had a tractor trailor truckload delivered she just couldn't picture it. And I think she wondered why we need it! Now that you can see the progress on the production garden you'll know why. The soil here is clay - hard, red, nasty clay, with some lumps of undefinable gray rock thrown in and beautiful glistening crystal quartz gems. The quartz is astonishing in its color, clarity and splendor. We have one six sided crystal on the mantle in the library. But the soil...after 20 years of loblolly pine, construction on the house, and probably pasture and tobacco growing before the loblolly, the soil is devoid of life. I had it tested and the test results were the worst I've ever seen! The pH was something like 3, soil fertility less than 1 percent, and so few nutrients. Poor soil!
If you also have lousy soil, build raised beds. Raised beds enable you to fill them with black gold goodness and grow wonderful vegetables. Each of the raised beds in the pictures above are destined for either herbs, root crops, or above ground crops. We are filling them with a mixture of 50% compost, 40% top soil from the garden center, and 10% peat moss. The untreated beds in the front are made with standard pine lumber and will be used to grow root crops and medicinal herbs. The remaining pressure treated lumber beds are destined for green goodies like spinach and Swiss Chard, my two favorite green vegetables; broccoli rabe, which you can't find anywhere in Virginia; beans, including some heirlooms I've been dying to try; watermelon and cantelope; corn; tomatoes; peppers; eggplant; and if I'm brave enough, onion sets, summer and winter squash.
I transplanted one poor potbound oregano into the new herb bed. That's the green shrubby-thing. Next year, I hope the pictures show it overflowing!
Note the 'garden gate' John made. It has the cross piece. Once we get the beds filled with compost, the deer netting goes up on the 8 foot tall posts, the gate is put in place, and hopefully I won't be feeding the critters.