Sunday, March 21, 2010

Raised Garden Beds Part 2: Dirt

My dad, the retired horticulturist, stressed the importance of quality dirt.
Who knew dirt could be so important?

As far back as I can remember my dad has been involved in agriculture in some way, shape or form.
He even headed up a department at Mississippi State University where farmers around the state would actually ship cartons of dirt in order to have their soil tested.

Imagine that.

Imagine spooning dirt into a little cardboard box and mailing it to some scientists so they can tell you what kind of dirt you have and what you need to do with it in order to grow your crop of choice.
The process for testing the soil is actually methodical.
From the receiving area to the actual test tubes, etc.
I washed many a test tube when I was a little girl!

My dad suggested we use the local farm and garden in town rather than the bigger home and garden warehouses in the "big city" 15 miles down the highway.
Sounded good to me.

There are a few pretty big differences between buying local and buying giant.
One main difference to me is that when we walked in the door of the farm and garden, we were greeted with smiles (by people I actually know) and after a little small talk about the great weather we've been having, they asked how they could help us.

What was incredibly interesting to me was that the girls dressed in Wranglers and dangly Western earrings at the cash register and seed bin could talk dirt with my dad just as well as the male manager in the back of the store helping another customer and the fellas working in the warehouse and barn. 
Imagine being able to ask a question about something you are buying and actually having a knowlegeable person answer that question.

Imagine that.

For our 4x8 beds, we wanted a dirt depth of 6 inches.
We needed 32 cubic feet of dirt for each bed.
Do not ask me how we figured that out.
I am a liberal arts major.
My dad will probably laugh when he reads this because I've probably got the numbers wrong.

After the lady in the Wranglers, dangly earrings and heeled cowboy boots showed us the different varieties of dirt, my dad chose two different kinds to mix.
He chose "Baccto" and the ever popular Miracle Gro.
We started off asking for Miracle Gro alone, but I'm not gonna lie to you.
Miracle Gro is a top quality, top seller...for good reason...but it also has a top price.
Each of the two raised beds needed four 50lb. bags of Baccto and four 50lb. bags of Miracle Gro.
Even a liberal arts major knows that means we needed eight 50lb. bags of both Baccto and Miracle Gro.
Our total in dirt was around $165.00
I'm dizzy now.

After we were done crunching numbers, we backed up to the warehouse to load our haul.

Here's a picture of the front of the farm and garden.  Ya gotta love a small town!

This kind gentleman not only talked dirt with us, but he loaded those 50lb. bags of dirt as if they were nothing, barked orders at the young man working in the warehouse, and even graciously allowed me to take his picture.
Have I mentioned how much I love small towns?

This was my favorite part of the farm and garden.
A little red barn!
More dirt and plants live inside the barn.
I want this little red barn for my backyard!

It's not for sale.

Which is a good thing because my neighbor Missie would KILL me!
Missie would say I was distracted by the sparkly stuff...even at the farm and garden!

Aha! Soccer Boy!
You knew I wouldn't have let him off so easily now, didn't you!
Load them 50lb. bags of Miracle Gro, Son!

Have I mentioned that he's really a good kid?
He has even earned a college scholarship which he will take advantage of in May.
This the major thing causing friction between he and my firstborn...who is only a Junior.

You may be asking yourself at this point what all of this has to do with dirt.
Absolutely nothing.

Here are my eight 50lb. bags of Baccto and my eight 50lb. bags of Miracle Gro.
We put them in the screened in porch to make sure nothing happened to them.
It's important to take care of $165.00 worth of dirt.

Please notice our generator in the right corner of this picture.
It also cost a I really need you to notice it.
We did not have this generator during Hurricane Katrina.
But you can bet your sweet patootie we have one now.

We haven't had to use it.
But, just knowing it's there helps me sleep at night during storm season.

Little ole me carried these bags out to the beds.
I even came up with the convenient idea of spreading out the bags so the soil would be more evenly distributed.

I opened the bags one by one and dumped out the dirt.
Look at the difference in the color of the Baccto and the soil from the yard!
My dad says you can't tell by color alone because some slick companies will put additives in their soil to make it look better when really it's just charcoal or ash added in!
Imagine that!!
Faux soil!

Here are both my beds with the Baccto bags emptied.

My youngest decided she needed to practice her photography skills while I was moving the Miracle Gro bags to the beds.
Great shot, huh? ;)

She took about 100 picture of my behind, the sassy gal that she is!
Most of them were close ups.
I guess I didn't notice because I was trying to breathe while I was carrying 50lb. bags of Miracle Gro.

Here I am laying out my bags of dirt in my preferred pattern.

At this point the over the top giggling from the pint sized photographer is making me suspicious.
I'm also growing a little concerned about my camera.

The Miracle Gro bags are ready to be dumped.

Let me tell you something.
Carrying, placing, opening and dumping 16   50lb. bags of dirt is a WORKOUT!

My beautiful beds with their beautiful rich soil mixture!

Tomorrow in Part 3 of Raised Garden Beds I'll show you what we did with the bed the Head of My Household put together for me :)

1 comment:

  1. You've totally inspired me. I must garden, although everything I touch dies. I'm going to follow your blog and hopefully pick up some tips. I LOVE your pictures! Beautiful.