We built the Test Garden on a city lot, and as it turns out, we thereby gave ourselves the same kind of problem that a lot of gardeners face. The problem is dirt, or rather, bad dirt. Fortunately, we're proving that even bad dirt can make a good garden, but before I explain how, and how you can deal with the same problem, a bit more background. (By the way, we're happy to have problems in the Test Garden, even big problems that we did not foresee, because we built the Garden to bring you news of proven plants, garden styles, methods, and ideas. When we fix our own bad dirt, we can show you how to fix yours.)
We started with a tough spot for the Test Garden. A dry cleaner stood on the corner and an auto body shop next to it. We razed the buildings, bulldozed up their basements, discovered ancient foundations deeper still, and dug them up too. When we finished we had a city block of sticky, brown clay, excavated as much as six feet deep in places and corrugated like a small mountain range by the tracks of the bulldozer. After a rain, the water pooled for days in the ruts and pits.
Continued on page 2: Slow Drainage