So Mr. Johnson helped me assemble the boards on Tuesday and I called to order my dirt for delivery on Wednesday. Here's where the disaster begins. I had 3 choices of places to get black dirt, mixed with compost and delivered, but because I had a budget, I went with the cheapest place (black dirt = $19 per yard and I needed 4 yards). When I called the garden place and gave my order to Wendy, she asked me what I planned to use the dirt for and when I said a vegetable garden, Wendy said the black dirt I was ordering did have some chunks in it and she would advise that I use the pulverized dirt instead (at $11 more per yard). I told her it just wasn't in my budget and I could probably break the chunks up (because I assumed they would just be chunks of black dirt) and that was pretty much the end of that discussion.
So the dump truck finally came about 6 PM on Wednesday and what he dropped on my driveway was awful. The chunks were HUGE! (we used Penny as a comparison with one of the chunks here--since she's a pretty full-figured kitty, I think you can get an idea of how big this chunk is, and there were many chunks larger than this!)
I tried breaking a chunk with a rake--couldn't be done. Then I tried it with my hands and this is what was inside:
A solid clay core!
Well, I'll tell you what.....I was SO disappointed I could have cried. Mr. Johnson helped me by loading the wheelbarrow and trying to pick out as many of the big lumps as he could. As he dumped it into the raised bed, I continued trying to break up chunks so I would have something usable to plant in. Finally after 2 hours, I was satisfied with the amount of dirt we had in there. I added a couple blocks of peat moss to the bed and started trying to till it and break things up more. Here is the final result.
Still quite a few lumps but I think it will work for the planting. I don't think the way this is now would work for planting any seeds in row crops, would it? Any advice from the garden bloggers? Would adding some sand and trying to till it into this mix help me at all? What about compost? Or am I just screwed?
I called Wendy back the next day to express my disappointment and she pretty much said I'm just stuck with what I've got. She said she told me on the phone that their black dirt had chunks in it -- which I heard her say and acknowledged that I would just try to break up the bigger chunks (I had no idea the chunks would be the size of a small schnauzer!) She said she tried to emphasize to me that this dirt had a lot of clay mixed in with it and that it would be hard to use for a garden and that it was more suited for filling holes. I never heard her say that during our phone call and told her that, so it becomes a matter of "she said -- she said." She told me we could bring the big chunks back some time if we were headed out their way and I said I would be happier if they would just come and take back what was left since I was going to have to throw the rest away into the ditch. She apologized again that I didn't fully understand what kind of dirt I was getting and the reason she hadn't been more forceful in trying to discourage me from getting this dirt was that she was trying to be polite and didn't want to make me mad (so mad after the delivery and not before is a better thing??) I advised her that if this situation ever came up with another customer she definitely should be more forceful in telling the customer that this dirt should only be used for filling holes!
This whole situation makes me so mad (mostly at myself) I could just cry. Mostly because I wasted over $200 on this crappy dirt and because I made a mistake. Mr. Johnson and I spent another 2 hours yesterday afternoon loading up the remainder of this dirt from the driveway and dumping it out in the nether regions of our yard. I'm telling you this whole pathetic story not to make you feel sorry for me, but for two reasons: 1) if anyone has any solutions to help me fix up the dirt in this garden, I would really appreciate the help, and 2) to get this "off my chest" and get on with my life--I don't want to put any more bad mojo on my new garden this year!