Yellopig Is Free

Or, Recreating A Life From Scratch

Just One More Post About an Empty Hole

Greetings! I am recently reminded that it’s been quite a while since I shared with you the exciting adventure I’ve been on, so it’s past time to give you an update.

So. Having spent the entire months of August and September digging a 4’x6’x2′ hole in my backyard, I ended up with this:


It’s quite a lovely hole, if I do say so myself. Just as a reminder: the hole is 2′ deep (more in places) so that the little plants will have plenty of room to make nice roots (and possibly root vegetables). It’s small (only 4’x6′) because it’s still an experiment. But look how nicely the sides are holding up!

While digging, I came up with this:

These are actually rocks that I dug out of the hole.


So I’ve separated the larger rocks, putting them aside. By “larger”, I mean fist-sized or more. Ultimately, I got this pile of rocks, which I will probably use to line the paths. (The red ball is one of those “stress balls” they gave out at work because they knew we’d all like to crush our manager’s very tiny heads — story for another time… The red ball is about the size of a tennis ball.)



At some point, I came across this rock:



(The red ball is in the same place in both pictures.)
This rock is about watermelon-sized, and weighs about 80-90 pounds. I named it “Moby”, as in “I will remove this rock if it’s the last thing I ever, ever do”. OK, I realized at that point that rock removal was becoming a bit obsessive, and that there will always be another “Moby”. And I’m proud of the fact that in the first picture above, you can see at least two more “Moby”s that will remain in the hole (for now), as I have called an end to the whole rock-removal deal.

In the end, I found that I could not remove Moby by lifting from below (without risking crushed hands), and I broke the ropes twice hauling Moby up two feet from the bottom of the hole. But that Moby was successfully removed, and I’m irrationally proud of that fact. Heh.

BUT! (And this is about where I left off blogging.) Now I have a hole the size I want, but I have this situation:




This is the same, fist-sized red ball. Having removed the large rocks, I have a pile of dirt with rocks that are still obnoxiously large. My vegetable bed instructions say “mix the dirt — with rocks removed — 50/50 with soil amendment…”

So. What to do? I decided that next winter, I would be unhappy with the work of turning over dirt full of slightly-smaller-than-fist-sized rocks. Put another way, I asked myself “How happy will you be to see these stones again?”, and the answer is “Not”. So. I already had some 1″ chicken wire, and I bought some 1/2″ hardware cloth, and made a 2-stage sieve for my dirt.

Go ahead, make fun of me, but here’s my sieve:



The 1″ chicken wire is braced with 1″ wooden stakes, the 1/2″ nylon hardware cloth is braced with nylon-covered metal stakes. Here’s my 1″+ rock pile, collected from the large stage of the sieve:


Here’s my bucket of gravel, from the small stage of the sieve:


Which is going to rejuvenate my driveway:


(Obviously, many many buckets of gravel.)

And finally, here are pictures of my cleared dirt, ready to be mixed with organic soil amendment for (hopefully) happy, happy vegetables!



How can they not be happy with that?! 🙂


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4 thoughts on “Just One More Post About an Empty Hole

  1. solarbeez on said:

    Your veggies will absolutely love you. So will the deer unless you net them (the veggies).
    So how DID you get the rock out of the hole? I think I would have used a come-along and some sheet metal to slide it on.

  2. Those veggies had better be happy, after all this!

    My original ropes were cotton, and had been cooking in the back of the car for a few years. So the first real stress on them broke them. Then I tried winding them around the rock — still broke. Moved on to some jute macramé cord that has been in the closet (out of the sun, climate controlled). Wrapped that around the rock several times, and it worked. Wiggled the rock into a corner, braced one foot on each edge of the corner, lifted straight up. Not much heavier than a 5-gallon water jug.

  3. My, my. Such determination. Did you know that back in the day farmers crushed rocks and sprinkled the powder on their fields to boost the mineral content. Still that does sound like a chain-gang activity. I think I saw Paul Newman and George Kennedy doing that in a movie.

    Seriously, I do the same–except it’s 100% pure clay–which is also loaded with minerals.

    • Hey, I saw that movie! Huh, I knew they were crushing rocks, but I didn’t know what for.

      I didn’t do the pH test, but local folks say it’s high here, generally 7.5-8, so the only mineral treatment I did when refilling the hole (other than removing a bunch of limestone) was to throw in a couple of pounds of gardening sulphur (recommended by the UofA Agriculture Extension Manual).

      The instructor at beekeeping school said I have just about the perfect dirt for adobe, so there’s that…

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