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My Amish Rake

Rake with Rock Duct Taped to it

This baby can really dig in

I’m in the midst of a very large Extreme back yard makeover.  It has been going on for . . .  I won’t say how long.

Time is relative, unless it is a relative you are waiting on.  In this case it was a series of circumstances over which I had no control.  (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

Digging Tucson Soil

Digging in the ground around Tucson can be like taking a shovel to a concrete parking lot.  There is a clay called caliche. Translated it mean “This #$%@ stuff is harder than concrete”.

Caliche is a common problem in southern Arizona soils. Caliche is layer of soil in which the soil particles are cemented together by calcium carbonate.

I have literally stood on my shovel and the point won’t sink in even 1/4 inch when I jump on it.  That is hard, hard dirt.

If you are trying to have a hard surface for say . . . under your new patio, this stuff is great.  But getting it level can be a challenge.  (there are other phrases that come to mind beside challenge but I’ll stick with challenge).

I discovered a kind of simple work around.  Dampen the soil and it tends to loosen the grip for a little while.  It also adds calcium to the soil which when heated can make it even harder, if that is possible.

I spray it with the hose, let it set for about 20 minutes and I can skim off a thin 1/4 inch layer of soil from the top.  But by using my “Amish Rake” I can get more soil at a single time.  Once over with the rake and the soil breaks up like a harrow in a spring field getting ready for planting.

The idea for my Amish rake came from rigs I saw as a boy back in Ohio where the Amish farmers would pile rocks on their equipment if they needed the tangs to dig deeper.

I remember my dad strapping a big rock onto the plow to keep it from bouncing out of the furrow one spring when the ground was hard from a lack of spring rains.

Necessity being the mother of invention turned these boyhood memories into my Amish rake.

It gets the job done, but is pretty heavy to pull around.  I’m glad the new patio is only going to be 12 X 16 feet.  Pulling this rake and shoveling the dirt in preparation (and perspiration)  for the patio block is one of the main reasons right now I’m tired in Tucson.

I’ll keep you posted on how this project goes, as it goes, when it goes.

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