The experiment begins~

Nicely smoothed sides (not too steep not too shallow!)

This is the beautiful bed we prepared early on Thursday Morning

My alarm went off at 6:30 am on the morning of Thursday April 15th 2010. I groggily rolled out of bed and pulled on some clothes. I jumped on my bicycle and sped down to the Fox Point Community Garden located near Gano Park next to the Seekonk River and right behind the ICCU building.

The air was cool and fresh. The sun was slowly starting to warm the day.

By 7 am Becca, Natalie, Maya and I were busy at work. We decided to use the double digging technique that we learned at our Practical Workshop on Wednesday afternoon as part of a class we’re taking this semester called Sustenance & Sustainability, affectionately known as “Food Class”. This technique involves digging out the garden bed in layers and maintaining the unique layers, keeping them apart and replacing them in the same order, only with some aeration efforts and layer of compost in between. The idea is that each layer of soil has its own distinct characteristics that are valuable and useful for plants. If you want to learn more about double digging you can check out the textbook we’re using in class. It’s called How to Grow More Vegetables – (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine by John Jeavons. It’s very highly recommended by our professor and now we too can recommend it to you!

Mound of Dirt in the early digging stages

Mound of Dirt in the early digging stages

We used wheelbarrows to keep the layers separate as we dug out the small bed that measures about 6 feet by two feet. The first layer of soil was pretty easy to dig out, relatively friable and loose. Becca described the first layer as “empowering” to dig up. The next layer was much tougher. There was clay as well as big rocks. We even found a conglomerate chunk of concrete buried in the bed.

Dirt in a Wheelbarrow

This is one of the wheelbarrows we used to keep the soil layers separate

Because the plot is relatively small we decided to make one continuous raised mound as opposed to distinct rows. This seems like be best way to maximize our growing space.  Each of us had morning meetings or classes so we hustled to finish preparing the bed by 9 am. We used a hard-tined rake to smooth out the top of the bed and used shovels and palms to round and shape the sides. This weekend brought some light rain that should have helped add moisture to the soil without compromising its wonderful, fluffy, texture.

This week’s forecast calls for partly cloudy days with highs in the 60’s. It’s almost May and it’s time to start planting! We have a few seed starts going in flats, but we’re hoping to do some direct sowing pretty darn soon.

We all felt like our spirits were really lifted after starting our day with such a lovely and inspiring activity.


See those nice beveled edges?


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Fran Keally on April 19, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I actually did not know that it was important to keep the soil types separate.


  2. Posted by Marty on April 21, 2010 at 1:35 am

    Looks great. Do you plan to put in any thing to creat a boarder?


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