Soil Amendment Fun!

We moved to a new house in October, and the backyard soil leaves a lot to be desired.  Here’s a picture of what I’m working with:

Rocky Ground

Look at all those rocks! Argh!

Notice the soil is wet in the picture above?   It’s rocky, hard like cement when dry, and slightly less solid, like clay, when wet. I had to wet it down in order to turn it with a shovel, because I was getting nowhere with it dry.  I got a great work out, though!  I had my work cut out for me…how could I get all those rocks out of there, without killing my back or knees as I pick them out one by one?  Then, I remembered we had a heavy duty metal rake! (It’s the one on the left below.)   Rakes

I grabbed the rake, and low and behold, it mostly worked, better on the bigger rocks, of course.  I even managed to get enough rocks out of the garden to use as a drainage layer in my herb container garden pots (more on those later).  Here’s the before and after:

Before Raking

Before Raking

After Raking

After Raking

I still had to grab a few of the smaller rocks off the surface, but it was much more manageable!  Next, it was time for my current favorite soil amendment…composted steer manure!  I spread it all over my garden strip, as seen below:

Steer Manure

Once I had it on the ground, I spread it out evenly along the width of the strip, and then repeated the process with organic garden soil.  It ended up looking like this:

Soil Amendments, spread out

And now, the fun was about to begin!  The whole purpose of these soil amendments is not to leave them on top of the soil, but to combine it with your soil to improve the overall soil quality.  We want a happy, healthy, flexible soil for our seedlings’ root systems.  So, I got the shovel, and started turning dirt.

Soil Incorporation

The top of the photo shows the incorporated soil, the bottom is still waiting to be incorporated (it’s a lot of work!).  In the end though, it was worth it – the tomatoes have come along nicely!

Tomato Plants

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