Step 2: Dig more.

I moved the Clematis jackmanii and a Passiflora incarnata, and hard pruned the Clematis. Luck was with me as I pruned the Clematis, as I can never keep pruning groups straight but Jackmanii is in the group (3) that should receive a hard pruning in early spring.


I excavated the site a further three inches before I determined that 9 inches deep might have to do. Here’s what 9 inches deep looks like. There are a number of thick roots and while it’s not too hard to poke out soil beneath them, it’s not something that’s particularly advisable. So I dug deeper in between the roots but left well enough alone beneath the roots themselves. The earthworms will sort it out.

first leaf layer

After removing rotten and very small roots, I added four to five inches of semi-composted shredded leaves, and turned them under well with a garden fork. I worked backwards, to avoid treading on my fluffy new soil. Shredded leaves work brilliantly in clay, creating that perfect spongelike texture once they’ve broken down.

leaf layer

Here’s the bed once the leaves were completely worked in. You can still see the main large root in the center, about 9 inches below grade. In case you’ve identified that my math is a bit fuzzy, remember that I dug into some of the spaces between the large roots; figure that the 4-5 inches of leaves went into those holes approximately 12-14 inches below grade, and got mixed well with the clay. At any rate, the base of the filter bed is settled out now at roughly 9 inches below grade.

The next task will be to order the composted manure and grit mixture. More math:

The area of the garden is 475 square feet. I want to amend the top six inches with the manure mixture.

  • 475 * .5 (feet)  = 237.5 cubic feet of soil to amend. I don’t like that number, so we’re going to say 240 cubic feet to be tidy.
  • If I want to amend that volume by 50% (half manure mix, half excavated native soil), that’s 240 cubic feet * .5 (feet) = 120 cubic ft. of amendment to order.
  • Gravel yards usually sell in terms of cubic yards, so that’s 120 cubic ft. / (3 ft. x 3 ft. x 3 ft., or 27 cubic feet) = 4.4 cubic yards.

The rest of any volume I excavate will be made up with shredded leaves. I have so, so many shredded leaves.


1 thought on “Step 2: Dig more.

  1. Pingback: Step 4: Put back some of the dirt you took out. | MissingHenryMitchell

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