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Gardening tip – dollar store basket to filter rocks

September 27, 2012

I’ve been meaning to share this series of photos for a while. But then I used this technique two days ago, and that prompted me to finally write about it.

I live in a part of Virginia that has a LOT of clay in the ground. My garden soil had a lot of little rocks mixed in (big lesson learned for me – don’t buy “top soil” from the big orange store to fill your square foot garden, it’s not worth the little rocks). I think that all of the “chunkiness” in the dirt was impacting how my plants grew. So I decided to filter my soil.

Okay, I might be a little bit Type A … but now that I’ve had my first growing season in my new garden after filtering my soil, I can say that I think it made a big difference. Plants did really well, and everything just seemed to grow well.

Here’s what you need for this – a simple wire basket from a dollar store.   That’s it.    Now, I will confess to taking it a step further, and using a pasta colander to further filter stuff out after it passed through the wire basket.  But that was only for parts of the garden.

In the photos below, my daughter helped shake the rocks out of the flower bed around our mail box.

Fill the basket with the soil that you’d like to de-rock.

Shake it.    In the photo above and the one below, you can see dirt coming from the holes in the basket.  You might have to look closely, but the action was happening. 🙂

Inspect what remains.   If I found a lot of dirt clumps (as opposed to rocks), then I would use a scrap 2×2 piece of wood to crush the clumps into finer dirt.


Inspect your nicely filtered soil on the ground

This bucket has been a lifesaver for me.   It’s vinyl coated, so it doesn’t rust.    You don’t want to know how many hours it’s been used to shake dirt.   I was really crazy with the new garden.    I just think that roots have an easier time of growing if there aren’t rocks or clay in the way.    I’m sure the basket and I will spend a lot more time together again in the spring.


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