February 22, 2024

I should have spent yesterday grading. I mean I really should have. I was mentally recovering from putting on a symposium (along with Sheldon Walcher, Kim Walker, and others) at USM on digital composition. I didn’t feel capable of grading, and it’s a theory of mine that it isn’t fair to students to force myself to grade when I’m mentally tapped out. They don’t need to bear the brunt of my bad moods, or so I tell myself when I do something instead of grade on a day I’m already behind.

And so it happened that yesterday, after I’d already told my brother who offered to come over and help me work in my yard that I wouldn’t have time, I spent all day working in the yard.

My primary accomplishment was digging out an old herb bed that had grown over with weeds.


That’s the result of ten bags of top soil you see in the picture. I think I’m going to add about that many more.

My plan is to set the raised bed I bought on top of the foundation of top soil and fill it with potting soil.


The reason I think I need more top soil first is because it is so close to the house, and my yard has a slight slope toward the house. My theory is that it needs to be built up a little more to have good drainage even with a frame for the bed. The top soil will settle some. I’m not really looking to have a vegetable pond right next to my house.

Building it up more will also accomplish a deeper layer of good soil. I’ve turned the dirt over and over with a shovel, and it still has big clumps of clay in it. That’s all there is underneath, and clay isn’t good ground for anything other than weeds.

Where I got these theories about soil and drainage, I have no idea. I usually garden from my mother’s freezer. But once I got out there and started digging, it just seemed to make sense that I needed more top soil. There’s at least a slim possibility that I’ve paid attention to my dad’s gardening techniques at some point when it didn’t seem like it.

By next weekend I hope to have plants in the bed and herbs in the pots I’ve been using as stools while I dug around in the dirt.

And if I get really ambitious, I have enough frame left to make a four foot by twelve foot bed somewhere else in the yard.


It’s taken an awful lot of work to prepare a place for a four by four bed. I may have to lower my standards to get in a larger one. The only thing I have to dig up the grass and turn over the dirt with is a shovel. It would a lot easier to leave the grass down there and just fill in from the top with soil.

On the other hand, I’ve worked a lot of tension out of my mind and body. Shovels are cheaper than medications for that. Who knows what I’ll end up doing?

Meanwhile, I’m working on convincing this guy that I’m actually allowed to hang around in my own yard.


He has not been happy to have me out there.

2 thoughts on “The Garden of Good Intentions

  1. My dad says if you’ll keep them small you won’t have to actually step into the garden…you can do most everything you need to do from the “outer margins.” I didn’t grade this weekend either…I like your excuse though…I think I’ll borrow it 🙂

  2. I could just do two more four by four beds, but if I use the slats to link them together, that will give me three four by fours in a row. I don’t think getting at the plants from the “outer margins” would be a problem since it would still only be four feet wide. I’m not worried about that, just about the work to set it up. 🙂

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