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Raised Bed in Progress

posted May 2, 2016, 12:42 PM by Lynn Moody
Years ago when we lived in Atascadero, we acquired a 5 foot 9 inch diameter galvanized round steel stock tank.  We used it as a kind of water reservoir, also as a wading/soaking/cool-off pool, and a small pond for our small flock of ducks.  When we moved out here to what is now Blue Oak Canyon Ranch, we brought the tank with us and put it up one of our small canyons to collect and temporarily hold water from a spring.  In our multi-year drought cycle, the spring dried up and subsequently the bottom of the tank rusted through in several small holes, and a couple small holes in the side toward the bottom.  Not good for holding water, but I had the bright idea to bring it to the house and use it as a raised bed for a small garden.  We have lots of gophers, and a couple dogs that enthusiastically dig for gophers, and rabbits, and wood rats, so it is exceedingly difficult around here to raise plants in the ground.  Except for rosemary, which apparently doesn't taste good to the herbivores.

The mower was and is still attached to the tractor, so Jim drove the tractor to the canyon and we loaded the tank upside-down on the mower.  He slowly drove back to the house, and we lifted up the tank and rested it on its edge, then rolled it carefully through the gate onto one of the backyard terraces - nice and level, and a perfect size to accommodate the tank.  I measured it and calculated it would need 2.9 cubic yards of soil to fill it up.  I did not want to dig up that much soil on the ranch, so determined to purchase a manufactured soil material to fill the tank.

This morning, we drove the pickup truck to Steve Schmidt Topsoil and got a scoop (about 1 cubic yard) of planter mix - topsoil plus two kinds of compost - and we commenced filling the tank.  Not an easy job, since the tank is not accessible to the pickup truck or to the tractor.  We shoveled planter mix from the truck into the garden cart and the larger of our two working wheelbarrows, wheeled these into the back yard next to the tank, and shoveled the planter mix into the tank.  First photo, below, shows where the tank is (also the wheelbarrow and a shovel).  Talk about rustic charm.

Have dirt, will travel.
Some soil in the tank.  Progress.  Hard work.
Slightly more than half full.  The plan is, later this afternoon go get another scoop (about 1 yard) and, tomorrow morning, fill the tank up the rest of the way.  If there is any mix left over, I have a bunch of small galvanized tanks that have sprung leaks and no longer hold water, that make ideal planters (already have used a couple of them).  Those will mostly go in the front yard.  Anyway, when the big tank is full, then I can have fun planting it.  It is in shade part of the day and in the sun part of the day, ideal for our hot summers.  What will go in it...vegetables, flowers, dye plants...
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