April 22, 2010

Praying for dirt

I have been sitting here praying for dirt.

I need garden soil to create two new raised planting beds, and to add an extension of the garden near the dry creek bed.  A magnolia, a variegated redbud, a stewartia, a corneliancherry dogwood, a lacecap hydrangea and several shrubs have been sitting in their pots, ready to be planted since the middle of March when they were still dormant.

The sod is removed, the garden shapes are dug.  But I need dirt.

In mid March we began calling a landscaper, a local guy, who does a lot of work in our neighborhood, is well liked and comes highly recommended.  We've used him before.  But there was no answer to our calls until early April.  Finally his wife got in touch with us, a lovely lady who set up a delivery date for a week out.  Of course no truck ever arrived.  No call, no reschedule, no contact --- standard landscaper protocol.
I found myself praying that some nice dirt would fall out of the sky.  They predicted rain, why not dirt?  Wouldn't that be great?  My gardens were ready, my plants on hold.  Need dirt!

It took another week of messages to get her again in mid April.  When we did finally talk, we told her we'd try another source.  She was relieved -- a one time truckload of dirt was not a landscaping job they wanted.

So I called Envirocycle, a green waste recycling company that collects our town's leaves and brush and composts them.  I ordered 6 cubic yards of mixed topsoil and compost, and they set a delivery date.  They came last Wednesday.

Oh, gardeners, my prayers were answered.  This is what 6 cubic yards looks like:
The creaky dump truck arrived and backed into our tricky slanted driveway without touching a blade of grass, and there were only inches to spare on each side.  I was impressed, and called to the driver as he opened his door "nice job backing in!"

A little gnome of a man tumbled out.  His thermos went rolling, clanking down the driveway.  The paper with our order on it flew away in the breeze and other detritus from his cab spilled out with him.  "Ehhh," he said, smiling.

He checked the tarps I had laid down on the pavers, and he moved the heavy objects I had placed at the corners, saying he didn't want to bury them.  The wind immediately caught both tarps and blew them into the birch trees --- note to Christine in Alaska: we have blue tarps here too, I just didn't get a picture of them flapping in the birches.

The gnome chased the tarps down, wrestled them back onto the pavers, replacing my ballast items. "It's okay, you can dump the dirt on them" I said.  "Ehhh", he replied.  He then proudly took me on a tour of his truck, showing me the missing pin in back, how the chain had fallen off and he now had to keep track of the pin by putting it in a rusty little slot in the side.  There were other highlights, and an explanation of each, and some demonstrations too.

But finally the dirt was dumped on the tarps, the gnome retrieved his thermos from the end of the driveway where it had rolled to a rest.  "Aha, nothing broken, this happens all the time."

Ehh.  Then he was gone, and I was left standing in front of a shrine of beautiful soil and compost, my prayers heard and granted.  What lovely stuff to fill my new gardens with.

One of the new raised gardens going in:

Newly planted, but more trees and shrubs to come:


  1. Ooooh, I love soil. I go through the same problem, no one wants to deliver such small (to them) amounts. We actually had this in school the other night, one cubic yard equals 13-16 full wheelbarrows. That is a lot of trips!

  2. Laurrie, What a lovely view you have. My first reaction was calm. I am looking forward to seeing your plants grow.

  3. Deborah, you're right, it really is a lot of soil, and a lot of wheelbarrow trips! Oh, my aching body....

    Gloria, I'm just starting to see views this year for the first time as my gardens take shape and begin to direct the eye.

  4. This gave me a good giggle. Your heap of black gold is marvelous.

  5. dirt to make any gardener green with jealousy.

  6. Dang girl, that's one good pile of dirt. Don't you kind of want to dive in? I've got a pile of the opposite kind of dirt (the clay and gravelly kind) sitting in my driveway. It's posted for free on Craigslist - but no takers yet. I was going to offer it to you, but I think you found a better source.

    p.s. love the gnome

  7. Lisa, it really does feel like I have a pile of gold in my driveway.

    Joene, ah, envy, envy...

    Kelly, no thanks on your pile of chunky gravel dirt. And my plants say no thanks. I hope you can get rid of it though!

  8. Good dirt is a beautiful thing, isn't it? We got 15 yards of compost last week -- it looked like a miniature pyramid of Giza -- that with the help of a bobcat is now nearly all dispersed.

  9. Sweet bay, 15 yards?? I can't even imagine that. But then you have so much acreage. Glad to hear it's been spread already.. half of my pile is still there.


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