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Going in the right direction

 
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Location: N. California
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I'm in the process of extending my garden, and making two hugel beets, and clearing the paths and adding new wood chips to the paths.  For some reason this winter I started several large projects and didn't finish them.  The garden is the next project that needs to be finished.  I have the fence out in two spots, one path cleared and wood chipped, and one hugel beet done.  I could have started about three days before I did.  I keep stalling, not looking forward to the digging and weed pulling.  Last night about an hour before the sun went down I got started.  I was clearing the weeds from the spot that will be my new hugel beet.  When I first put this garden in I put down weed cloth under everything.  The raised beds were put in and filled with organic compost, organic garden soil, and organic chicken manure, and lot of other organic stuff along the way.  I also added organic compost every time before planting anything new.  At some point I learned I could get wood chips for free, and put those in the paths.  Since it's been many years the weed cloth has holes and the weeds climb through.  So I'm pulling weeds and I notice there is almost no wood chips left.  There is soil, with lots of worms.  I'm thinking about this, and it makes me very happy.  I'm happy because I realize even though it's hard work I'm doing the right thing.  My old raised beds that had the best of everything I could afford.  Beds I was always trying to make better in any way I could, never had worms.  I would even put worms in the beds when ever I would find one.  All that money, and work and my garden paths are healthier then my raised beds.  You might think this made me sad, and it did a little, but not too much, because I have been converting my raised beds into hugel beets, and they have lot of worms and mycelium, and life needed to truly have healthy soil.  It's just the little sign I needed to make what is a labor intensive job a little easier because I know it's worth every drop of sweat, and sore muscle I get. The job is taking me longer because I'm sifting the soil into the hugel beet I already made.  No since in wasting the soil created by wood chips, worms and time.  I would just dump it in, but I don't want to replant the weeds, only the soil or would it be compost?  What ever it is I'm using it and the worms are relocated as well.  
It may sound sappy, but I'm so very grateful.  I was on my hands and knees wondering why I was making so much work for myself, and my question was answered.  I'm always kind of amazed when that happens.
 
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Thanks for posting this Jen, you’ve made me very happy too!

I was getting a bit down because my source of manure for my raised beds got scuttled. Well, I can still get all the horse manure I want - but I’m too scared to take it.

Unfortunately in Australia our farmers are using some pretty horrendous herbicides on animal feed crops. It passes through the stock and has now made its way into the soil/compost loop with the result that many people around our state (Victoria) have purchased toxic soil/compost which has poisoned their gardens. It’s really terrible. Often the level of herbicide in the compost/soil is too small to be detected by tests, but apparently is still causing the telltale stunting and death of plants, even after commercial composting. So - I’m too scared to bring in random manure now

We are on hard clay mining tailings basically, and if I don’t build up raised beds I can’t really grow anything that isn’t tough as nails. So I’ve been doing lots of reading on this site (thank you Dr. RedHawk and others) and trying to figure out how I can build soil with wood chips/fungi and organic hay bales/coffee grounds plus the copious amounts of leaves I can gather here.

So, long story short - thank you. Your post has lifted my heart. Maybe I can manage with just woodchips and hay. I’d like to have chickens and muskoveys and rabbits at some point to create some clean manure, but that’s a while down the track.

Sorry for the rant, and thank you!
 
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