I woke up this morning to the “beep, beep, beep” of a truck backing up. A dump truck had arrived at my house, bringing three cubic yards of fresh, organic compost that is now sitting in my driveway.
The first year we gardened at the Modage, we bought compost from a local vendor, The Ground Up. We borrowed a friend’s truck and we unloaded it ourselves. Those beds survived about a year and a half before they were invaded and eaten by ants.
Being completely horrified by the fact that my beds only survived less than two years before being eaten through by bugs, I decided to take drastic measures the following year. We built the “Behemoth” with the help of my little brother.
After one cinderblock bed which I soon realized was reactionary overkill, the fella and I switched to cedar pickets and we haven’t looked back. We built stage one, which was a single 2×4 foot bed and a pair of 2×6 beds against our fence. We expanded this to include a trio of 3×6 beds. I find that I really like this dimension of bed, because my stumpy T-Rex arms can reach across them with ease. Also, the cedar has completely eliminated the ant problem, which the cinder blocks failed to do.
Just because ants can’t eat your bed, doesn’t mean they can’t set up colonies in them. The Behemoth is frequently a harbor for ant cities after floods. The cedar beds haven’t had that issue.
Having finally figured out the best material and design for beds, I realized that I still had some short comings from a gardening stand point.
The problem has been that I never committed to spending the money necessary to really fill the beds the way they should be after that first year with the truck and The Ground Up compost. We just bought the bare minimum at the hardware store and considered it good enough. And that was the result we got. It was merely “good enough,” but nothing spectacular.
That’s not to say things didn’t grow. They did. They just didn’t grow as well as they could. Or they would grow and then fail to produce. I attribute this to user error. I never filled the beds as deep as they could have been filled. Nor did I water as well as I could have.
Today marks the first step in a real change on the Modage Urban Homestead. We invested in a brand new batch of from The Ground Up organic compost. We filled the beds as deeply as we should.
We still have to fill the Behemoth tomorrow. Our next major project will be irrigation for semi-automated watering and trellises for vertical gardening of squash, beans, and melons.