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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 June 28, 2018   #1
bower
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Default it's a tad rocky here...

This is a multi year project I've been working on. The terrace I started in 2015. The area is southeast corner of my house near the greenhouse, which is where the natural topsoil from the building site was piled before construction in '91, next to a small natural valley or drainage/catchment area, which does have standing water in extreme rain events.
The excess topsoil - which is a red clay pH 4, was moved over several years in the 90's as a foundation for my raised beds in the main west garden. This soil on its own is like poison to vegetables or any of the many things gardeners normally grow, but it is all we have here above the rock, and farmers considered it a better start than nothing, back in the day. There are many places where there is not even any clay, so... farmers started in the best spots, ridges where there is clay...
The terrace area garden has been neglected after redistributing some of the clay, and never "finished" as a garden although some compost was made there and some things grown on the top. I started working on this area in 2015 mostly because weeds that host mildew - forget-me-nots and red clover are sadly the worst - were providing spores to blow into the greenhouse and messing with the tomatoes.
This pic is from 2015, when I started work on the terrace. The stone steps in the foreground were built many years earlier with the help of a very strong friend. Big rocks!!
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Old June 28, 2018   #2
Worth1
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Looks like the Ozark poor farms.
Not to be insulting by any way.
The rich folks got all the bottom land.
You should have seen the pile of rocks around our family garden.
If I hauled and raked rocks in the morning I got to take the truck swimming and fishing in the after noon.


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Old June 28, 2018   #3
bower
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Since the soil is so rocky here, naturally rock is the material for shaping out beds, terraces etc. It's handy. Rock has benefits as the enclosure of beds, being a solar collector for warmth which is a big plus here. Rock is handy to make paths that you can walk on without a lot of mowing..
Bags of leaves and horse manure topped the first terrace in 2015, and I had multiplier onions and peppers planted here in 2016. Shade is an issue, I am still working on because this south facing sheltered area should be a really good place if not for the shaders...
Spring of 2016 reshaping beds on the top and a pathway to walk on...
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Old June 28, 2018   #4
Worth1
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Sta5rting to look like Easter Island.

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Old June 28, 2018   #5
bower
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In 2017 I firmed up the beds on top and planted my 2yr old garlic there in the fall.
Here is how it looks this spring from the other bank.
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Old June 28, 2018   #6
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So this spring I am working on the west corner by the steps. I want to level up the top and make another bed on the shoulder as well as the lower end south. I want a sheltered bed on the side of the steps as you go down too. In the long term I would like for this and the other lower terrace to be rich enough and sunny enough to make asparagus beds, but that's a way off. They could also be good places for peppers, sheltered entirely from the winds. Peppers have done great on the top in a good sunny year, so it's not a bad bet.
Seemed like a peachy plan, but one of the rocks in my new bed is a tad bigger than I expected...
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Old June 28, 2018   #7
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@Worth, no shame in the poverty of it, it is what it is! I could hardly pretend it is royal soil.
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Old June 28, 2018   #8
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It took a couple of days to move this sucker, a bit at a time.
I couldn't lift it, but I managed to pry it up with pick and shovel and get it as close as possible to the plywood retaining wall. So when that aged piece of woodstuff deteriorates and is gone, the big rock will be there to start the' permanent' retaining wall, that is rocks. I regret it was too big to move because I'm losing some bed space as a result, but so it goes...
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Old June 28, 2018   #9
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So now the job is to build up some material that is fit for plants to grow in.
I had the sods and weeds from the top, which I laid to one side. Then I dug three drills for the fish that I found in my freezer when I defrosted it a couple weeks ago. Yes I already trenched my tomato plants in containers in the greenhouse with three bags of caplin I thought was the last of the hoard... apparently not. And you can see where the urge to build new beds comes from, when you find old fish in the freezer....
No pics of the fish natch, it's a dirty business done very early in the day before the flies are out and you don't want any of that fish juice lurking on a camera button or the like.
So then the sods/weeds went back around it, and evened it out with a bit of peat, then a big bag of maple leaves, some kelp I removed from around the garlic, and a sprinkle of peat to keep the leaves from blowing away before I add more layers...
It got hot, work was over for the day.
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Old June 28, 2018   #10
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Incidentally the wood framing on the beds is mainly for the benefit of animals. The silly rails or sticks pointing up are my "moose rails" just trying to make my vegetable beds visible to moose. And it's a warning to them because in fall there's likely to be wire or other obstructions in the bed I don't want them to step into.
Hares also, will never think twice about hopping up on a rock-bounded bed, but they are not so confident about raised wooden beds, might be a trap. Indeed.
All the wood in my garden is presently scrap - stuff that was lying around from past repairs etc. I am determined to use up whatever is available.
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Last edited by bower; June 28, 2018 at 08:26 PM.
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Old June 28, 2018   #11
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You've been doing pioneer work. Best wishes to finish your goals in the time you want.
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Old June 28, 2018   #12
bower
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Tx for your good wishes Salsacharley. It is an ongoing challenge for sure, I'm just happy to be well enough to continue with little projects year by year.
Back in the day I was proud to work with a wheelbarrow and no machine on the land. Ha ha. Nowadays I dream of having a little money to rent a mini-backhoe!!! Heck that would be a lot of fun.
I think there's something in the soil that makes gardeners optimists.
I could really see me having a day with that mini-backhoe, somehow.
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Old June 28, 2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
Looks like the Ozark poor farms.
Not to be insulting by any way.
The rich folks got all the bottom land.
You should have seen the pile of rocks around our family garden.
If I hauled and raked rocks in the morning I got to take the truck swimming and fishing in the after noon.


Worth
Where did you live in the Ozarks?


I grew up on various farms in southwest/central Missouri. We weren't poor, we were subsistence. If we had more money, we would have been poor.
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Old June 28, 2018   #14
GrowingCoastal
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Lots of work visible there! And also see a laughing face in the rock border in the third picture. Any hope of finding some labradorite when you unearth those rocks?
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Old June 28, 2018   #15
PhilaGardener
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bower View Post
Ha ha. Nowadays I dream of having a little money to rent a mini-backhoe!!! Heck that would be a lot of fun.

Ah, for power tools!
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