The house I live in was built in 1929 during the era of lead paint and asbestos. My neighbors (who have lived in the same house for over 50 years) tell me my backyard was paved over before developers dug it up and put in a lawn. When I moved in, I started a garden. I picked out the sunniest spot and started digging. Just inches below the grass were bricks, concrete blocks and assorted debris and rubble. The first summer, I dug out two patches – 8 feet by 4 feet – and replaced the “dirt” with a mix of peat moss, manure and top soil. I built up the patches with raised beds so that I had a solid foot of good soil. Each bed had, literally, 800 pounds of fresh dirt. And I moved every pound of it. The next year, I built two more raised beds… my backyard became a patch work of crab grass and vegetables.
Finally, two summers, I excavated the entire backyard and filled it in with rich soil. Okay, this time, I didn’t do the work, but I “supervised.”
Before... (can you see concrete blocks and bricks mixed in with the dirt)
The tomatoes I grew were worth their weight in gold. But you can’t put a value on the pleasure I derive from gardening… coaxing fresh vegetables from the earth... to know that within 30 minutes, I can harvest an eggplant or salad from the garden and serve it for dinner.
Given the constraints of good soil, one can still make economical choices when plotting a garden. Stay tuned for tips on how to get the most from your gardening dollars.