So good to be back in the garden!
I really wanted to expand my beds this year but was dreading all of the back-killing digging involved. I don’t know how you dig new spaces in your yard, but I have always done it the usual way – one shovel full at a time. I dig up a section of sod/dirt, turn it over, beat as much dirt off as I can, and throw the sod into my wheel barrow. It’s a slow, painful process.
By the way, you can refer to dozens of soil digging tips at Coca Crop.
A few weeks ago we had one of those warm, sweet spring days that made me forget my dread and grab my shovel. Actually, I grabbed the garden hose and some spray paint first. I used the hose to define the shape that I wanted for the beds, and then marked the outline with spray paint.
And then I started digging. And digging. And sweating. The usual.
Lucky for me, a neighbor stopped by and put an end to my madness. There is a much, much easier way of doing this, and I am giving Deano all of the credit for enlightening me.
Here’s the secret – use an edger!
Which, ironically, I bought because I read somewhere that it’s the tool for sod removal. But I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to use it – the method described in the article was just as back-breaking as my shovel method.
This is what my edger looks like…
I thought that maybe I bought the wrong type since it was rounded instead of squared (and i figured that was why I couldn’t get it to work!). As it turns out, the shape really didn’t matter. I actually think that the rounded edge probably requires a little less effort – so cheers for a rounded edger!
Side note – I imagine that this process will be very different depending on your soil type. Ours is pretty compact – lots of clay mixed with some decent silt. If you have looser soil, your task may not be as labor-intensive – lucky you!!
Warning – you are about to be exposed to way too many pictures of my old Adidas and super-white ankles. Sorry.
Deano started by cutting through the sod along my paint lines. An added bonus – he’s an artist, so he tweaked some of the curves and it looks better than my original outline. (Of course I gave him grief about not staying in the lines though!)
Once the outline is cut (edged), work in small sections. Cut a strip of sod (about as wide as your edger), from the beginning of the grass section to the outline that you’ve already edged. It sounds confusing, but think of it like cutting a sheet cake. In this step, you’re cutting the width for all of the slices.
Now cut the strip into chunks (cutting the cake into individual slices!). I do one chunk at a time.
Once the piece is loose, turn it on it’s side (hold it in place with your foot), and slide the edger under the grass so that you slice the grass off, and all of the soil remains in your bed.
This takes a little bit of practice – I kind of tap the edger up and down under the grass to get it started – if you try to just push it through the clump falls over.
You lose almost no dirt with this method.
Using this method honestly saved me hours, and my back took very little abuse!
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing how I finished the beds to get them ready for planting.
Until then – get out there and dig!