Preparing the Gardens

Preparing the Gardens, or, Why We Hate Clay Soil

The common question from fellow employees during this period was, “What happened to you?!” City rain gardeners Kari Hedin and Amber Westerbur often looked like they had jumped in a mud puddle and rolled around a little; but we had help. In spring 2006 a City employee removed sod for us with a sod cutter, and a work crew from Woodland Hills helped muck the clay out of the gardens. We planned to dig 1 foot deep in each garden, but after digging 8 inches we were too exhausted to continue. Such is reality.
Garden bed Students tend garden bed

We put the school-issued rain boots to good use in spring 2006. Once plastic edging was staked around the garden perimeter, students back-filled the gardens to aid in water infiltration. Fill consisted of a sand/gravel layer topped by peat and compost, and finished off with a layer of wood mulch. And then we asked, “Will it ever stop raining?” The gardens held 3 inches of water throughout the preparation process. Our solution? A wet vac! The picture on the right below shows Kari Hedin sucking water out of a garden so we could get in them to plant. Hardly orthodox, but it’s our little secret. We know you won’t tell.
Students begin planting
Volunteer's creative solution to removing excess water - a wet vac