While I was doing some yard work this weekend a good friend of mine called to inform me that he found a good sized grape vine growing in his garden. Oddly enough I spent a good portion of that day preparing a place to put a grape vine if I were to get one. I rushed over to dig it out and I'm very pleased with it. It's about a half an inch thick at the base. Given what we know about where it was growing it's probably one to one and a half years old. We were able to save good portions of all four tap roots. The various branches are roughly 8 feet long.
When I got it home I dug a shallow hole the size of the root area. Then, inside, I dug three deeper holes with the post hole digger to extened the tap roots into. I filled back in with a mixture of top soil and dirt from the hole and water it all in. I threaded some of the branches through the lattice.
Obviously with the soil I have I'm going to need to break up my soil. The clay is pretty tough and unrelenting.
Before I plant I want to break up the top few inches of ground. This will do a couple of things. Destroy some of what's growing there now and mixing in the top soil that is available with the red stuff lower down. After I've done that I'll pour in some bagged top soil and mix the whole thing again. This should provide a good base to grow in.
I know from my experience working on the path that the ground doesn't break apart just by digging it up. A rake and a hoe aren't much better. The hoe still basically pulls up the ground in clumps. The rake is slightly better at tearing the ground apart but, it is still slow going; after several strokes I've still only scratched the surface. Given that I have over 90 square feet to do this isn't the best solution.
I have a couple of options for rotary Tilling. My father has a Ryobi tiller attachment that he has used for some time. I borrowed that but found it to difficult to handle with my soil. It was a workout just to hold it against the ground. I think I banged up a few of my bricks pretty well. It seemed to deal with the clumps of dirt on-top of the ground well enough. Perhaps it is better served mixing non-compacted soil.
I have another friend who has graciously offered to let me borrow his Craftsman rototiller. This worked much better for me. It is a walk-behind tiller, with the motor sitting right on the tines. It was a harder to maneuver in the raised beds but in Garden #2 it was easier. The ground was still wet from the rain two days before. The tiller bogged down more than I would have liked, but still manageable.
I mixed in about equal parts top soil and compost. I've mounded my potatoes.