Patti is out of town this week, staying with her mom, and yesterday Cory said "You know, it would be a great surprise for Mama if we could get the garden ready before she gets back."
I confess that his idea tickled me for a couple of reasons: first, I'm proud that he thought of surprising his mom, and secondly, it makes me happy that Cory isn't afraid to roll up his sleeves, break a sweat, and get his hands dirty in order to pull it off.
It was late in the day when he made the suggestion, but we decided to get started anyway, and worked until dark removing the two raised beds in the area we wanted to cover. The first one was no trouble at all, constructed of treated lumber. We just had to pry it up to loosen it, then it came right up. The second box was a booger, though, formed from cinder blocks. Both holes in each block was slap full of tightly compacted dirt, and we wanted to clean them out, so that took time (by the way, we will re-purpose those cinder blocks for a fire pit later on). Then we had to remove the 24 (or so) rebar stakes Patti had used for tomato stakes. WHEW - much easier said than done. But, a front-end loader is invaluable for many things, including pulling stuff out of the ground. I simply eased into the stakes, Cory would push the rebar against the leading edge of the bucket, and then as I tilted the bucket up and slowly raised it, the little ridges on the rebar would catch and up the bars would come. Machines are awesome.
Once the raised beds were completely removed, I used the discs on my tractor to break the ground until it was too dark to see. Had we started getting our mulch weeks ago, I wouldn't have broken the ground at all, but because we will be planting less than 30 days from now, I figured I'd give it a head start by breaking up the top. It's odd to realize I'll never have to do that again on the areas we are covering.
While I was doing that, Cory was in the barn, collecting manure to spread before we spread the mulch - again, just to provide the ground a little head start.
Once we were done for the evening, I asked Cory if he wanted to get up early and try to finish what we could before my work day started, and he eagerly said "yes sir!" Proud of him.
Cory, laying it on thick
We knew we didn't have enough mulch to cover the whole garden at the proper thickness, so Cory only gathered enough manure to cover that part of the garden we guessed we could cover with mulch. In the photo to the left, there are two shovels in the barrow. I used one of them to help Cory, but I couldn't do that and take a picture at the same time. Together, we made pretty quick work of the load.
Cory, the Groundskeeper
Once the manure was spread, the fun started.
We made a pretty good team, Cory and I: I brought him load after load, and he spread each one as evenly as possible and was waiting on me when I got back with the next bucketful.
Again, machines are awesome. Because of recent rainfall, we had to have the tree-limb mulch dumped in an area of the yard near the gravel driveway, which is quite a distance from either garden plot. How thankful we are for this tractor and front-end loader! Sure, it would be great exercise to move the load using the wheel barrow, but it would take a month to move it. Whew.
Remember, I mentioned two surprises: one for Patti, and one for Cory and me. Our surprise was that as big a pile of mulch as we had, it would cover only about a third of the first garden! Maybe it covered only a quarter of it (I hate math), and not even to the depth we eventually want it. That's ok, though, because the fellas in the big trucks PROMISED they'd be back again and again. So we will eventually have more than enough.
I do wish I hadn't broken up the ground in this whole plot, though. It's gonna rain today, which means "mud," but not where we've applied the mulch, at least!
PS - below is a video update as well.
This post shared at Black Fox Homestead's HomeAcre Hop.