First, please excuse the nature of today's writing. You may find my style less articulate than usual, for I'm exhausted from a hard day's work followed by beer. At least I know I'll sleep well tonight.
This morning, this is what my garden plot looked like. The sod had been cut out, whatever grass and weeds I could find removed, and the soil leveled as well as possible.
I called in all my favors from ECG, JCC, and RWW and ensured a work team of strong folks with good senses of humor. After several mishaps that slowed our day down a bit, we were finally able to rent a rototiller from Lawn Mower Corner, a shop just around the corner from the garden with the most helpful and friendly staff imaginable. When we told them we weren't even going to load the tiller into a truck, but instead walk it home down the street, they first laughed, then cut us a deal. ECG asked, since they were feeling so neighborly, if they'd do the neighborly thing and just lend us the machine. They laughed. Neighborliness has its limits, after all.
And tilled some more.
RWW and I took his boss's truck to run errands: picking up the compost to further amend the soil and the stepping stones that RWW had salvaged. When we got back, JCC and ECG had nearly finished installing the frame. They had dug a trench around the exterior of the space and sunk the cedar planks, screwing the corners together as they worked. (Cedar isn't the fanciest option for edging, but it lasts longer than other woods and works well in the space and circumstances I have in which to garden.) This proved to be the most difficult task of the day, for the trenches were a bitch to dig.
When the frame finally fit, with a lip extending just an inch or so above ground, we added the compost and dug again to mix the soils. Then we raked the soil level. At this point, the dirt was so aerated, each of us considered laying down in it to make "dirt-angels." The rototilling and soil-mixing had turned it pillow-soft and deliciously fine-crumbed.
One of my favorite features of this vegetable garden space already is the choice of stepping stones we made. RWW had recently driven by a Shell station and discovered it in a state of demolition--the workers had broken up the concrete. He filled his truck with irregular chunks, knowing that he could use them in his own garden and share some with me. Each chunk is at least 4 inches thick, some more, and each has its own quirky irregularities. To allow me to access all parts of my side of the plot, we shoveled out a depression for each chunk, then set them where they'd create a practical path. When setting stepping stones for a permanent garden, it is important to make sure they're set in materials that will keep them from sinking or moving; however, since I may want to move these "stones" around and maybe even take them with me elsewhere someday, we just set them into the depressions in the soil. They're heavy enough to stay where we put them.
I wove a 75 foot soaker hose through the 7 by 15 foot space, holding it in place, at least temporarily, with JCC's old tent stakes.
Finally, we called it a day. I ordered pizza for all and we each sat down to a well-deserved beer or two.
And so I ended up with fingers that look like this?
I don't care. The day--hands in dirt, good company, satisfying result--was completely worth my crusty fingers. Besides, hand modeling was never in my future.