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-   -   New Garden Plot - Long Term Soil Building Project (http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=47474)

FourOaks May 11, 2018 05:23 PM

New Garden Plot - Long Term Soil Building Project
 
So, today I decided to get started on expanding my Garden empire! Actually it was yesterday, but then the Tiller wouldnt fire up. I had to clean out the carburetor, then after that it started to rain. So today became the day that I broke ground on a new garden plot!


The location in question, and the trusty Cub Cadet RT65 tiller. This has been in the works for a couple years.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/qudcXfzl.jpg[/IMG]


This location is located on the Southern side of the property. Since we had our property timbered, I have been keeping it mowed. Or at least partially mowed. Not every week, but about once a month. The main nuisance is wild black berries. They are a beast if not maintained. This particular area has the least amount of stumps, and is fairly flat. It runs downhill at maybe 10 degrees. Give or take.


On a side note, its amazing how fast Mother Nature takes back. I have been clearing out the debris as I mow the last couple of years, but it quickly became "yard looking". This is just one part of our property. All in all, we have over 4 acres. My main goal is to slowly reclaim it over time.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/TZfepW3l.jpg[/IMG]


A nice specimen of a rock. I wear a size 13 shoe.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/3rvs1Nql.jpg[/IMG]


The first tilling went far better then I expected. A healthy amount of roots, but the tiller jerks them out. This plot measures 16 foot by 125 foot.


Next week I plan to get compost. I can have my truck loaded up for $20. A few loads should hopefully cover it. The bad part is that I cant get my truck back to this location. To many stumps in the way. I need to rent a stump grinder, but thats a project for another time. Ill have to use the trailer I have for my mower, and take it back. Its a dumping trailer, so at least I have that going for me.


This is definitely a long term soil building project. My goal is too keep working this over the Spring and Summer. Hopefully will get a Fall harvest out of it. Im thinking the easy stuff. Squash and Beans.

Nan_PA_6b May 11, 2018 06:02 PM

Nice! Was the area forest at one time? Because forest floor is good soil to start with.

If you have fallen leaves in the fall, vacuum them up & chop them up with a leaf blower/mulcher. Leaves & grass clippings will make great top dressing that will decompose into good soil.

Nan

FourOaks May 11, 2018 09:41 PM

[QUOTE=Nan_PA_6b;699539]Nice! Was the area forest at one time? Because forest floor is good soil to start with.

If you have fallen leaves in the fall, vacuum them up & chop them up with a leaf blower/mulcher. Leaves & grass clippings will make great top dressing that will decompose into good soil.

Nan[/QUOTE]


Yep, forest. About 100 years old. The best info that we can obtain is that Tobacco was grown here, previous to that. And that actually brings up something interesting. The soil is 10000% different then anything I have ever tilled. It is very loose. Almost like it has extra sand in it. My tiller was loosing traction on the second pass, I had to push the tiller in certain areas.


As far as leaves go, the compost place gives away leaf mulch, free of charge. Just show up with a truck, they load up as much as you want.

Nan_PA_6b May 11, 2018 10:23 PM

Lucky duck! Loose soil, free leaves.

Nan

FourOaks May 13, 2018 09:43 AM

[QUOTE=Nan_PA_6b;699567]Lucky duck! Loose soil, free leaves.

Nan[/QUOTE]


Maybe! Its going to be a whole lot of hauling back and forth. Im considering something along the lines of "Back To Eden" style of gardening for the plot.

FourOaks May 15, 2018 02:51 PM

So, a bit of an update. Was able to get back on task and start amending the soil. I went this morning to the Compost Facility and got a load of free Leaf Mulch.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/iv8Vud6l.jpg[/IMG]


Black gold right there. I backed my truck up as close as I could to where it needed to be. About 200 feet from the garden plot. By pure coincidence this is a shady spot. So not complaining.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/7ViyhYrl.jpg[/IMG]


Mostly rotted and composted down.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/DdViTMgl.jpg[/IMG]


Pretty straightforward. Load up the trailer, drive it to the site, dump and rake it out.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/5ih2axml.jpg[/IMG]


This is what one load covered. So..... its going to take a few more loads. :lol: I plan to head back the next few days to get more.

Nan_PA_6b May 15, 2018 03:25 PM

Looks rich! I don't think that'll blow away easily.

Nan

FourOaks May 15, 2018 06:53 PM

[QUOTE=Nan_PA_6b;700197]Looks rich! I don't think that'll blow away easily.

Nan[/QUOTE]


I certainly hope it doesnt blow anywhere.:lol:

Im still on the fence as to whether or not to use it AS the top layer, or to get wood mulch.


Wood Mulch I can get for $20 a truck load. This is REAL mulch that breaks down and composts. I have used it in my flower beds, and after a year it was nearly gone. Clearly it went somewhere.

Nan_PA_6b May 16, 2018 12:29 AM

Mmm, maybe you want a little wood on top.

Nan

FourOaks May 16, 2018 04:20 PM

Another quick update. This morning went to the Compost place for more Leaf Mulch. While I was waiting for the Front End Loader to show up, I snapped a picture. I was getting ready to get my rake out of the bed, and thought "why not!"


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/FUyHA9sl.jpg[/IMG]


Now that my friends is a pile of Leaf Mulch. Something that impresses me about the stuff.... it DOES NOT compact. You can see the tire marks from the equipment they use. You can just fluff it right back up, easy as can be.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/Fwmw3eMl.jpg[/IMG]


Got the lower end filled in with the Leaf Mulch. Im guessing its going to take probably 6 more truck loads to cover the entire area. Going back tomorrow for more. Then possibly Friday morning as well. Fri. is iffy because I usually spend the better part of the day getting stuff ready for the Farmers Mkt. on Saturday morning.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/s09utVsl.jpg[/IMG]


I want to show you this image. Looking at it, I know it looks like nothing special. But theres more to it...


Yesterday I was out walking around behind the new garden plot. I was eyeing an area for an Orchard that I have plans to put in, one day. As I was walking, right in this area, my left foot sunk down, then my right foot. The soil right here is even softer then the garden plot. This hole, I just used my shoe and was able to easily dig down about 4 to 5 inches.


This is the power of nature. When we had the property timbered, it was then mulched. I had a guy come in with a Bob Cat with a Grinder on the front. He drove around mulching anything and everything in his sight. He couldnt grind everything, but he got a very large portion of it.


The mulch just layed there. Now its nearly gone. Nature took back and made some really nice soil.


I look at it now, now its my job to keep feeding it.

Nan_PA_6b May 16, 2018 07:53 PM

You've got rich soil, go to it!

Nancy

GoDawgs May 16, 2018 08:47 PM

That's an amazing pile! And free to boot. Geez, you sure fell into a good thing and your plants are gonna be happy, happy, happy. :yes:

I'm glad you were able to get started on this bed as I know it's been in the works for a while. 8-)

Worth1 May 16, 2018 09:13 PM

The worms will be happy.:D

Worth

FourOaks May 17, 2018 02:13 PM

[QUOTE=Nan_PA_6b;700400]You've got rich soil, go to it!

Nancy[/QUOTE]


It certainly looks decent. Just want to keep it that way. The more I explore Permaculture and Sustainable Gardening (which I have always had some interest in) I am realizing the gift that was right under my nose.


[QUOTE=GoDawgs;700404]That's an amazing pile! And free to boot. Geez, you sure fell into a good thing and your plants are gonna be happy, happy, happy. :yes:

I'm glad you were able to get started on this bed as I know it's been in the works for a while. 8-)[/QUOTE]


Me too. It just takes time.. And hopefully with going with a No Till/Deep Mulch/Back to Eden methodology, I can spend time expanding, without the worry that I am taking on too much to manage.


[QUOTE=Worth1;700408]The worms will be happy.:D

Worth[/QUOTE]


I certainly hope so. Im no expert by any means, but this feels like I am going in the right direction.


Update Time!


This morning I went and got more Leaf Mulch..


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/TWV2Rn6l.jpg[/IMG]


A bit of an optical illusion but the plot is right about half covered. So im pleased with that. I really am not positive about tomorrow. I have to cut and bag salad mix, pick sugar snap peas, get the plants picked out and loaded up, and do some tomato pruning. If I have time, I need to sow more Roma II beans. So ill have to wait until the morning and make a decision as to whether or not to get more mulch.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/P082miZl.jpg[/IMG]


Just sharing this photo. This is the area of the proposed Orchard that I have intentions of starting. I want to put in assorted fruit trees. Apple, Pear, Peach, etc. Based on past experience, ill go Dwarf or Semi Dwarf at the most.


The soil in this area is so soft, I might just completly forgo the leaf mulch. I plan to mow it down, then dump in wood mulch.

Nan_PA_6b May 17, 2018 05:28 PM

Be careful with dwarf trees. They have shallow roots and fall over. Might be good to put them up with guy wires.

Nan

Harry Cabluck May 17, 2018 06:47 PM

Good luck with your project.

FourOaks May 17, 2018 07:41 PM

[QUOTE=Nan_PA_6b;700518]Be careful with dwarf trees. They have shallow roots and fall over. Might be good to put them up with guy wires.

Nan[/QUOTE]


Oh yes, its not my first rodeo. :lol: At my previous home I had Dwarfs that I fought with. Now that I am VERY familiar with how they like to flop over, Im planning ahead. I just happen to have a pile of t-posts that are not being used for anything. I have every intention taking care of that problem early on.

[QUOTE=Harry Cabluck;700537]Good luck with your project.[/QUOTE]


Thank you. Its certainly not an overnight project. Im really trying to think everything out. I want highly productive, but easy to maintain, long term. I need to produce enough to sell at my Farmers Market, as that is my income, but also enough for 3 people to eat.


I have already come a long way. Thats for sure.

FourOaks May 18, 2018 01:04 PM

Another day, more Leaf Mulch.


I decided to go this morning for more Leaf Mulch. Im now about 2/3 the way. Hoping that 2 more loads gets it covered. It will be Monday before I can head back to get more.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/VhPCVral.jpg[/IMG]

SteveP May 20, 2018 09:37 AM

That is really looking good! I look forward to seeing it planted and producing.

FourOaks May 20, 2018 04:20 PM

[QUOTE=SteveP;700801]That is really looking good! I look forward to seeing it planted and producing.[/QUOTE]


Me too my friend, me too.


My plan is slowly evolving. I didnt plan to at first, but now Im planning to till the leaf mulch in, plant it out, then mulch on top. Or something like that.


I am hoping it will be the final tilling, ever. I plan to put Organic Fert. (Espoma Plant Tone) in each hole. Otherwise, mulch on top.

FourOaks May 21, 2018 03:12 PM

Another day.... but the final load of Leaf Mulch!!!


Thankfully, im finally done with the Leaf Mulch phase of the project. I went this morning to my "go to" place and had them pile some extra in. Looking at my scale house receipts, on average I have been bringing back around 3/4 of a ton. This time around, 1.2 tons.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/DshSBHTl.jpg[/IMG]


The next step, hotly debated. Till the amendment in, or leave right on top. I thought hard about that. Both having pros and cons. I have decided that Im going to till it in. Essentially, im in a hurry. I dont think that tilling in will cause the end of the world. Directly after tilling, the plants will go in, along with Organic Fertilizer. This year I have had some good luck with Espoma Plant Tone, so Im going to stick with that. I can get the 25 pound bags from a local source.


Tomorrow morning I will be off to the Compost Facility to get Wood Mulch.


And oh yes, I made a new friend.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/YGeAHcIl.jpg[/IMG]


On one of my trips back and forth I found this little fella. I want to encourage more of this. Im really wanting to go full circle with a Perma Culture attitude. I want to invite turtles, birds, bugs (yes good and a small quantity of not-so-good).. and other critters that encourage a well defined eco-system. Believe me, I didnt start out that way. I wanted to have each square inch under cultivation, to maximize my investment. Now I feel differently. That, that attitude, is what has caused so many problems in the ag. world.

Old School May 21, 2018 04:30 PM

Looks like a Box turtle. Nice job so far. Must feel good to have the leaf mulch down finally. That is a big stretch of land. Lotta plants will grow in that area :yes:

FourOaks May 21, 2018 06:51 PM

[QUOTE=Old School;701006]Looks like a Box turtle. Nice job so far. Must feel good to have the leaf mulch down finally. That is a big stretch of land. Lotta plants will grow in that area :yes:[/QUOTE]

We have over 4 acres here. Our property is rectangular. 1000 feet long.


The new garden plot could be enlarged, by doing some stump grinding, or, simply utilizing another spot. Honestly, the latter is the direction I am going. I want to create "Agriculture Pockets", for lack of a better term. Being that I am a Market Farmer, it goes completely against convention.

imp May 21, 2018 07:38 PM

I agree with Nan, lucky you re leaf mulch and the wood mulch too!! Good work on that garden. I'd be tempted to get even more of the leaf stuff, LOL, because it just is so lovely!


Talk about worms, they'll be moving in fast. They LOVE leaf litter.



Good work and hope to see more pictures as you bring it along.

GoDawgs May 21, 2018 11:18 PM

There's a lot of satisfaction in seeing a project phase with a check mark next to it. Good job!

FourOaks May 22, 2018 08:30 AM

[QUOTE=imp;701038]I agree with Nan, lucky you re leaf mulch and the wood mulch too!! Good work on that garden. I'd be tempted to get even more of the leaf stuff, LOL, because it just is so lovely!


Talk about worms, they'll be moving in fast. They LOVE leaf litter.



Good work and hope to see more pictures as you bring it along.[/QUOTE]

Little bit later on in the season ill be getting more. I plan to just dump it in a spot close to one of the greenhouses, over in the wood line. It will just set there the rest of Summer into next Spring. Ill use it for potting soil for all my plants. Dont know about shrinkage, but im guessing 3 loads should be enough for all my Spring needs. Plus, I can back my truck right up to that spot. No hauling it around.


If you think about that for a moment, its a huge cost savings. In the Nursery Business, soil is a large factor of the price. Im getting it for free! This works out as next year I want to use some larger pots for some of my flowers. This helps with keeping my prices in check, at the Market. I would rather lower my production cost, then try to justify a price increase.


Dont worry, there will be plenty more pictures. Hopefully this will eventually answer questions that I read all over the internet about "Back To Eden" style gardening. Some folks are dead set that the wood chips must be "Ramial Tree Service Chips". I have seen first hand in my front flower beds that regular wood mulch, real wood mulch, does indeed compost and disappear into the soil. I dont have photographic proof. This thread will hopefully detail that. With LOTS of photos of the process.


As titled, it is a long term project.

[QUOTE=GoDawgs;701058]There's a lot of satisfaction in seeing a project phase with a check mark next to it. Good job![/QUOTE]


You aint kid'n. I was getting tired of the Leaf Mulch phase. :lol:

imp May 22, 2018 02:31 PM

I don't know about your leaf litter, but mine shrunk tremendously over time as it became black lovely soil type stuff. My shrinkage was over 75%, YMMV.

FourOaks May 22, 2018 05:14 PM

[QUOTE=imp;701156]I don't know about your leaf litter, but mine shrunk tremendously over time as it became black lovely soil type stuff. My shrinkage was over 75%, YMMV.[/QUOTE]


Holy cow at 75%. Hmmmm... well I get it for free, so I can just keep going back for more. None the less, thats my plan for next years Plant Sales. No matter how much I have to get, its free. :lol:

Alrighty.. so I finally got to move onto the next phase of the project today. Mulch!


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/6LqHBtgl.jpg[/IMG]


Thats what $20 will get ya. Well, they will pile it as high as you want, but the weight does start adding up. I think this came in at .87 tons.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/b0wjUK8l.jpg[/IMG]


A close up. All sorts of sizes in there. I have watched the process while waiting. They use a large tub grinder, and dump in the trees, they grind up, spit out onto a conveyor belt system, and into a pile.


[IMG]https://i.imgur.com/CUBEaHSl.jpg[/IMG]


Not able to get a decent photo because of the sun. I did get 42 Tomatoes planted. Its a random assortment of Prudens Purple, Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, and a generic Red Brandywine.


This took far longer then I anticipated. I never could find a good flow of operation until the very end...


1. Dig hole
2. Drop in 1/4 cup Espoma Plant Tone
3. Drop in plant
4. Back fill while stirring together leaf mulch and clay soil
5. Mulch


Wasnt until the last 5 plants that it occured to me to dig all the holes at once, then fertilize all at once, drop in all at once, etc. And, if you recall, yesterday or so I mentioned about tilling in the Leaf Mulch. Well, that didnt happen. The tiller would not fire up. Nada. Dead. I took it as a sign that it wasnt meant to be. I grabbed the shovel and started digging. Some holes dug really easily. Other holes were a little tougher. Hopefully in the coming years the soil will soften up to the point that it can just be dug by hand.


Tonight after dinner I plan to pound some t-posts in the ground, and run 20 pound clear fishing line. Hopefully this will spook the deer population. Each morning I have noticed fresh paw prints in the mulch.


Tomorrows plan is to spread the rest of the mulch, plants Ky Wonder pole beans, Marketmore Cukes, and some Mini Pumpkins.

Nan_PA_6b May 22, 2018 06:33 PM

The Law of Leaves states that no matter how thick a layer of leaves you start with, in the end it's not enough.


Nan

FourOaks May 22, 2018 08:25 PM

[QUOTE=Nan_PA_6b;701186]The Law of Leaves states that no matter how thick a layer of leaves you start with, in the end it's not enough.


Nan[/QUOTE]

Possibly.


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