May 22nd, 2012 // 8:13 pm @ admin
I’m back, with more of the history of our Garden Gate Group
Our first task was to find some soil that would catch the summer sun for at least seven hours a day. Fortunately our church had an ample stretch of grass covered play area for our children and the occasional outdoor event.
Our plans began with a giant takeover bid for the entire area, since we are right across from a great inner city park, our youngsters could easily play there?
Not so easily achieved, or, for the most part either desired or affordable!
We agreed that we should only bite off what we could chew and settled on a dog leg piece one hundred feet by about twenty four feet. We would receive at least 10 hours of summer sun and quite good protection from the prevailing winds.
Whilst the Skagit Valley is renowned for it’s delta soil, it doesn’t take long to leave it behind as you venture uphill! There we found much clay and stones.
We decided to plan our garden above the soil level and opted for the raised beds in a cedar planked twelve feet by four feet format ( making best use of the standard sixteen foot lumber that was readily available)
We were greatly helped by our neighbor Karon, who owned a small tractor with an earth moving blade. She leveled the site and built a future compost mound with the mix of grass and dandelions.
We sited the beds so that we had a two foot passage between them, to allow for easy wheelbarrow use. We found we had enough space for twelve box’s and a future Shed and herb garden
From a simple patch of grass to the raw BOX’S in place was a huge leap that seemed to happen all at once. Just one, very active day and a huge sense of achievement. Karon used her small loader to tip the new soil into it’s new ‘home’ immediately after we had the drip irrigation in place.
This was one of the largest tasks and we chose to engage a professional and do it right from the start. There os no doubt in my mind that this was the largest single cash outlay, over $3000. We could have managed with a hose, simple timer and the drip lines and fittings and saved over $2,500 but we had some early donations that covered the cost and we were completely
without any advisors to guide us.
In our part of the world ( the pacific northwest) it is wise to wait for the middle of April in order to avoid a late frost and so that the soil temperature gets above 50 degrees F.
We ordered all our seeds from territorial seeds in Oregon, a LOCAL company with a solid reputation who understood the climate.
Let me just confess that we had a pretty miserable harvest that first year.
The reason turned out to be the soil. We had assumed that it had come up from our world famous river delta. It had not! It was called Three Way and judged suitable for vegetables. When nothing seemed to grow well we decided to get a soil test. This proved just like bolting the barn door after the horse has gone!
Our soil was almost barren, low to miserable in almost every category. We had no matured compost and had been in such a hurry to get started that we made the classic mistake that ”soil is soil.” We learned our lesson the hard way!
This is one example of our our transparent reporting to each other on this site is of such value. You may have a source of good organically managed soil, great, or you too will be shipping in.