First Garden Workday – Mulch, Prep, Dirt



The Learning Garden had their first official workday on October 22, 2016 from 9am – 1 pm.

What a productive and beautiful day! The weather was cool, lots of volunteers showed up and brought their best to the garden, we knocked out lots of “to-do’s”… I was very pleased! The main goals of the day were:

1) clear grass/weeds around the beds

2) lay weed-barrier around walkways

3) mulch around walkways

4) line beds and fill with dirt

Families were welcome, so we had kid-friendly activities like DIY pinecone bird feeders and painting Terra cotta pots. Click here for the tutorial on pinecone bird feeder.

Several tables were setup with food and drinks, such as fruit, lemonade, Kind Bars, and wonderful Suja juiceΒ donated two coolers of their natural juices to energize nourish and hydrate our volunteers. Thank you Suja! πŸ’š

Now, let’s get to work.

All eight beds needed to be lined with gopher/mole wire on the bottom, and weed barrier on the sides (to extend the life span of the wood). A group of adults and middle-school volunteers got busy cutting patterns. Gopher wire proved tricky to cut and was time-consuming even with tin snips. However, it was a must! Sturdy gloves were required. This was a great job for 3-4 middle-school aged students to tackle; once the first pattern was made, they cut all the patterns for remaining seven beds.


Here I am showing a group of volunteers the “example” bed. It’s completely lined with gopher wire and lightweight weed barrier. We used fabric pins to secure the wire to the dirt, and staples to secure fabric to the wood.


Meanwhile, our sod cutter arrived and a strong volunteer began cutting the sod. The area was large and he was busy. For at least 30-40 minutes he ran back and forth getting the sod up.

Mike Swatkowski explains to Ashley Rumble about the sod-cutter.
Leo Oberting clearing sod the old-fashioned way…with a machete!
Teresa Meyers from Windermere Tree Board demonstrates sod clearing students.

Once the sod was cut, several students began lifting it up and tossing in wheelbarrows to take in the rear of the garden to compost. We recycle and reuse almost every thing in the garden. Our goal is to exemplify sustainable practices which future generations can easily implement in their own back yards.

Finally, the “big guns” arrived to do the heavy-lifting. Mike Swatkowski, a long-time resident of Windermere (and fortunately for us, my neighbor), generously donated his Saturday morning to help us in the garden, which meant he brought and manned the Bobcat and two attachment pieces. The fork scraper thingy (I’m so technical!) to lift up sod, and the shoveler piece to scoop and carry dirt, saved us countless hours of digging and shoveling.

Meanwhile, our very own Mayor Gary Bruhn arrived to help us break ground, meet the students and see how our project was coming along. What a treat for the kids!!


After clearing sod, beds were filled with dirt/compost. Can you see the steam?


Pizza arrived, courtesy of PTA and Papa John’s!


Then it was time to clean up and call it a day. Great work everybody!




7 thoughts on “First Garden Workday – Mulch, Prep, Dirt

  1. Wonderful to see everyone hard at work. Your beds are very impressive. gophers are not something we need to worry about here! It looks like you are getting great support. We’ll done:-)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Even experienced gardeners learn something new every day and often we learn more from our mistakes. No matter what, the children will learn lots from what you are doing. Well done.

        Liked by 1 person

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