Friday, May 1, 2009


I've been concerned how I am going to plant small seeds in amongst the soddy soil in our gardens this year. These include carrots, onions, radishes, etc. I think I finally found the solution. I tried two things: purchasing soil enhancing compost at $10/3cu ft bag and simply sifting the soil that is already in the garden.

I found that the purchased bag was mostly barely composted sawdust that might hold some moisture but would rob the soil of nitrogen as it lay there all summer. I'll use those bags, and we will see what the results are.

The better solution, I think, is to sift the garden soil through a screen of 1/2 inch hardware cloth to remove grass roots and break up the large clods. You can't quite accomplish that with just hoeing. I bought a 3 ft x 5 ft piece of hardware cloth at Lowes and built a frame of 2x4's to support it. It's big enough to fit over my wheelborrow. 1/4 acre is a pretty large garden and I'm going to need a lot of sifted soil.

So I used this device Thursday to sift a load of soil. I got enough in one large wheelborrow load to cover one 3 ft x 10 ft garden bed. That took me about an hour. By comparison, the $10 bag of compost covered only half a bed. So my time was sorth $20 an hour for that little exercise.

Stay tuned to see how these two methods worked.


  1. In retrospect, we could all have benefited this spring from a dump truck load of screened topsoil to be used as a seed cover when planting in this rough sod.

  2. Hey... I remember a screen like that from my youth. Handy. Also beats harvesting crop after crop of rocks, eh?