Friday, February 24, 2012

Gardening on the Rocks

You might not understand getting excited about a dump truck of dirt arriving.  But with our 80% rock soil called caliche here in north San Antonio, dirt is an important commodity. Somewhat like the movie "Waterworld", if you know what I mean.  This load of sandy loam topsoil will keep us busy the next few days.

Most of my gardening is in raised beds and I was running of places to plant so we ordered this topsoil two weeks ago.  Then it began to rain and rain so they couldn't deliver it until yesterday. The first time in two years rain could have caused such a long delay.




Finally, this big dump truck showed up yesterday.  Yippee!


Our driveway usually seems too big until we need to fit in a dump truck.  That's my husband making sure the truck misses the power lines and everything else.  During college summers he worked as a railroad brakeman -- A skill that still comes in handy from time to time.


He even checked to make sure the truck was empty.  And in his spare time sticks his head into alligator mouths.  Whooooaaaa.


"Yep, looks empty to me."  Now we just need to move that big pile around to the new raised beds in the back yard.

Twenty four hours later the pile is going down....slowly.



Soon I'll have plenty of new planting beds to show you.

20 comments:

  1. How exciting! Can't wait to see your new beds.

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  2. LUCKY! I just love a new planted bed. SO EXCITING!!!

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  3. How much did you order and just how big are those beds?

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    1. Hello Mr. B!
      The truck load was 12 Cubic Yards or about 100 wheelbarrow trips for us to haul. It's all downhill to the backyard.

      I'm creating 5' wide borders around the fences and a few beds in other spots too.

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  4. Wow, you must have a fairly large property. Sounds like a big job, we'll need plenty of pictures as you progress.

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    1. I'll post more about this in the future and try to add some details about the yard to my profile too.

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  5. My back hurts just looking at this...

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    1. Mine too now, it's looking good out there now.

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  6. New beds are always exciting.
    Looks like you have your work cut out for you.

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    1. I keep reminding myself I asked for this!

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  7. That looks like a lot of work. I am sure it will be worth the effort when you complete your beds. Is that a sago palm next to your dirt pile? I have never seen one that large.

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    1. The sago was planted about 20 years ago by the original owners. It is just over 9' diameter now. It has survived temps in the low teens and a couple of snowfalls. We used to cover it with a box, now we tie a tarp over it to keep cold sinking into the trunk. There are several large ones in the neighborhood.

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  8. Oh I understand exactly what you mean! Have fun with the new topsoil. Caliche is not fun at all to work with....I've broken a lot of gardening tools in this stuff...even after moistening up the soil a bit. Can't wait to see what you do with it all.

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  9. New dirt! How exciting! Although I don't envy you moving that big pile!

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  10. So "caliche" is what the ground here in NW San Antonio is called? I'm wanting to put new border beds around our sidewalk and patio in the backyard, but was thinking that the traditional soil conditioning methods won't work on it :-( Looks like I'll be bringing in some dirt too. How deep are your beds and what do you plant there?

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    1. If your yard is like mine with mostly rock and clay you will need raised beds. Most of mine are 9-12" deep or so and I plant mostly perennials with an emphasis on natives and adapted plants. My husband uses an iron digging bar to remove rocks below each plant as well. That's how we get the rocks to edge the beds with. We fill those planting holes with topsoil and compost.

      Around the patio you could do 18" tall planters to save yourself some digging. Many of my plants are in containers in addition to the beds. Along the sidewalk there are plants like Mexican Feather Grass that don't need deep roots.

      You can take a look back at some of my posts on the front yard to see what we planted without raised beds.

      http://rockoakdeer.blogspot.com/2012/01/more-progress-on-driveway-project.html

      Feel free to ask more questions, you can use the reply under the comment box and turn this into a discussion.

      I will also use your question for a longer "how-to" on our raised bed system in the near future.

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  11. Thanks, Shirley! I've wanted to start with perennials along the sidewalk from the driveway toward the back patio, then put in pittisporum along the length of the patio. Then, where the patio ends and the MBR window goes to the corner of the house, I would like to have a mediterranean fan palm along with some succulents. All of this would be mulched and bordered with some kind of rock. I'd love to send you some pics and get your comments if you don't mind. May I please?

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    1. I certainly appreciate your confidence in me and I'm sure we can help out so I've answered your request on Gardenweb. Even without seeing the photos I would recommend you replace the pittosporum with some of our great natives.

      I tried to email you, but it didn't work.

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