Hole #2: And Then It Rained
I might have mentioned the rain we’ve been having this year (heh). Since January, it had been raining ‘a bit’ every few days. I say ‘a bit’ because I don’t know exactly how much — just enough to wet down the dirt piles from the tree moat. According to the NOAA data (best guess), by the end of June, we were 1⅓” above normal.
I finally bought my own rain gauge so I could see what is happening in my yard, but really. Through July, monsoon season was looking just like spring: my new rain gauge got between an eighth and three-quarters inch of water every 4 days. HAH! It wasn’t my imagination, and now I had proof!
I had barely gotten the first layer of dirt out of the new bed when we got the first big storm of the year. It happened over night, so I wasn’t too traumatized by the sight of all that free-range water rolling through my arroyitos and washing out the bottom of my path (again!). When I went out in the morning, my new rain gauge had 4⅝” of water in it! I looked around online at all the ‘nearby’ weather stations and none of them had quite that much, confirming my suspicion that gauges miles away don’t really tell the story of rainfall on my property.
All that water took a few days to soak in and dry out, and then it was time to chip out the next layer of dirt.
The darker and grayish spots in the picture above were still damp. You can tell that the top left corner of the new bed is a little bit higher than the right edge. There is a slight slope in that corner of the yard. Here’s the opposite view:
In that picture you can see the infamous caliche bar on the ground against the back fence. In the previous episode, I chopped the bed into five sections, and then it took two sections to fill the cart with dirt to be set aside. This time I made six sections, but hurried a bit with the digging in order to get a whole layer off before it rained again. This layer was deeper than the first too, because 4 or 5 inches of rain made the dirt pretty soft. Relatively speaking, of course.
The bigger rock near the center of the bed turned out to be only three inches thick, and came out easily. The other two are still of unknown size, but don’t seem overly large at this point. They’ll probably come out on the next pass. So now the hole is about two inches deep:
It rained again before I took that picture. Now the damp spots have changed location a bit.
Along the near edge there are two roots, and they are a mystery. There are no trees or bushes near that spot. The recovery mesquite is forty feet away, and is only about 15′ tall, so I don’t think these roots belong to that. I can’t believe they belong to the tomatoes in the next bed, and the roots don’t point toward the big ocotillo growing on the hill behind the garden. I guess they’re left over from before the house was built, but that means they’ve been sitting there for about 20 years. Strange, and a bit sad, because it points to how biologically inert my back yard is.
Anyway, lastly here’s a picture of the growing dirt pile.
While it’s raining, I keep the dirt covered with that canvas tarp so that it doesn’t get too soaked and form much of a crust. That worked well enough when I dug the previous bed, so I’m pretty confident I won’t have that problem this time either.