Do as I Say, Not As I Do!

I’ve been digging. I don’t  really like digging, unless it’s just digging into the soil in order to put something into a hole and then fill it again. Today (and yesterday and the day before) I was digging up mostly dead sod, shaking it free-ish of soil, and then digging a hole and putting something into it and mostly filling it again.

Two tips today:

If you’re going to shortcut something, make sure you’re doing it right.

You probably know about “lasagna gardening”. It’s a system of building an organic space by layering material over what’s already there. You save the “structure” of the soil, prevent new weeds from springing up because they stay smothered and light-free, and the worms love it enough to chomp through all the layers giving a rich plantable bed in a few months’ time.

The key is LOTS OF LAYERS. I did NOT do lots of layers, mainly because I didn’t have ready access to lots of layers. The layers would be leaves, straw, compost, and starting it all off, cardboard. I had the cardboard–went to The Edmonds Appliance warehouse and got quantities of giant refrigerator boxes. But that was only after I’d already started with some very light weight boxes, so light weight that they began to disintegrate before what was underneath them– ratty grass and buttercup–had died off.

But never mind, I still had layers– 3 metric tons of hand shovelled compost to be exact. But compost, even at the end of the season when it’s been pretty dry and the compost is relatively unsaturated, is heavy, and 3 metric tons of it doesn’t go as far as you want it to go.

And then other layers? Leaves are hard to come by on a street that’s 100% conifer-treed. Went down to BSS where the boulevard is full of maples and harvested about ten giant bags, but once those were shredded, there was only enough to mulch the important bits, not enough to layer the lasagna bed.

You’ve had enough of the sordid story. The end result is that if I hope to plant into this bed this year, I have to dig out the not-nearly-composted, mostly-dead turf/buttercup.


This is the potato bed on the right edge, the brick edge on the left will be where the path will go in between what was previously there and what will soon be there. Which leads me to tip #2:

Plan out your garden before you do anything that will require a lot of undoing! 

Do as I say, not as I do!

Here’s the bed a few years ago, when I’d dug out quantities of turf to make what I thought was a perfect sized bed.


And this is today.


Before, there were stepping stones, but not enough room around them to escape the giant rose (“Jude the Obscure”), the various peonies that take up a lot more space when they’re 5 years old than they did when there were infants, and everything else that’s growing in girth. I guess that’s why it’s good to know the mature size of plants in order to PLAN. There was no path leading to anything in the garden, so it looked full, but kind of…pointless. Like getting in the car to go somewhere, but you don’t quite know where to go.

So last fall, 5-1/2 years into my tenure here, I tried to design a pathway through to back beds, knowing that I’d have to undo an awful lot of what’s been done before. Oh well, gardening is always a work in progress.

So I would save you from my mistakes: hire me to help you plan!!

If you have a similar story leave me a comment.

2 thoughts on “Do as I Say, Not As I Do!

Add yours

  1. Just one story? I have planted, moved, replanted, dug up, shifted and started again so many times in the 8 years I’ve been gardening, because I didn’t have a plan.


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