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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old May 11, 2018   #1
FourOaks
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Default 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.





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.





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





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.
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Old May 11, 2018   #2
Nan_PA_6b
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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
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Old May 11, 2018   #3
FourOaks
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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

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.
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Old May 11, 2018   #4
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Lucky duck! Loose soil, free leaves.

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Old May 13, 2018   #5
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Lucky duck! Loose soil, free leaves.

Nan

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.
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Old May 15, 2018   #6
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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.





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.





Mostly rotted and composted down.





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





This is what one load covered. So..... its going to take a few more loads. I plan to head back the next few days to get more.
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Old May 15, 2018   #7
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Looks rich! I don't think that'll blow away easily.

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Old May 15, 2018   #8
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Looks rich! I don't think that'll blow away easily.

Nan

I certainly hope it doesnt blow anywhere.

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.
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Old May 16, 2018   #9
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Mmm, maybe you want a little wood on top.

Nan
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Old May 16, 2018   #10
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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!"





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.





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.





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.
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Old May 16, 2018   #11
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You've got rich soil, go to it!

Nancy
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Old May 16, 2018   #12
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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.

I'm glad you were able to get started on this bed as I know it's been in the works for a while.
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Old May 16, 2018   #13
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The worms will be happy.

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Old May 17, 2018   #14
FourOaks
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Originally Posted by Nan_PA_6b View Post
You've got rich soil, go to it!

Nancy

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:
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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.

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

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.


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The worms will be happy.

Worth

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..





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.





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.
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Old May 17, 2018   #15
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Be careful with dwarf trees. They have shallow roots and fall over. Might be good to put them up with guy wires.

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