Thursday, April 30, 2009

Step 2 - Compost Acquisition and Sod Removal


We live in Palo Alto, which likes to take care of its residents. Since they have their own dump (euphemistically called a "Recycling Center"), they create their own compost. Several times in the spring and summer they have compost give-away days. We swooped on a timely Sunday give-away and, with a little help from our next-door neighbor, we acquired almost two cubic yards of compost for nothing more than a few hours' labor. We dumped in on the driveway in preparation for our soil conditioning step.

From Chabot Terrace Community Garden


After we had agreement on the garden footprint, it was time to remove the grass.

We explored two ways of doing this: 1) Use a shovel to dig straight down and just turn the soil upside down or 2) Use a shovel or hoe to dig under the sod, parallel to the ground, to cut the sod off the top.

Although Jake had it in his mind that method 1) was more efficient, the ladies (Jyoti and Brandy) showed him that method 2) was better. This is primarily because method 1) requires several steps (dig, turn, separate soil from roots, throw sod away) whereas method 2) just required two steps (remove sod, throw away).

This was a laborious step and it took a couple of days to get it done.

From Chabot Terrace Community Garden

Incidentally, we were left with over two cubic yards of sod to dispose of. Although it is possible to compost it, the sheer volume of it prevented us from being to process it any time within the next couple of years. We filled our greenwaste container with sod (which made a small dent in the overall pile), muscled it out to the sidewalk and hoped the collection services would take it. We kept our fingers crossed, knowing that they wouldn't have to lift it (it was probably between 200-300 lbs) since their trucks are mechanized for the greenwaste. They took it, but they left a note that the material didn't comply for two reasons: 1) the material is not compostable (I dispute that claim) and 2) it was too heavy. So from now on we will have to get rid of the sod in small piles at the bottom of the greenwaste. No problem, since we all know that compost is 1/3 dirt and 2/3 compostable material (just like sod!).

Here's a shot of the area with the sod removed and clue as to what the next step is!

From Chabot Terrace Community Garden

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