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a joy to dig  RSS feed

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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Today I had to do some digging in an area where I had been sheet mulching for a while..and it is such a joy, to dig down and not see just plain dirt, but to see wonderful humus that the seeds and bulbs are going into..you just know thinigs are going to love to grow in that..feels good to give the plants a good start..Finally getting the soil built up in this area ..time to move out into more areas farther from the house ..zone 2 here we come.
 
jeremiah bailey
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Mmmm.... hummus. er... humus! Something tells me that more went into your "dirt" than sheet mulching to get good humus. If that's all, then I've been working too hard.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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well this particular area was backfill to make a slope around a 4' high drainfield..i've been working on it for a short while..on and off for 5 or 6 years..just adding stuff as i come across stuff to add..and allowing the plants to die down in place..perennials..leaves..etc.

mostly adding things like straw and wood chips and manure..right on top of the soil around my plants every year and trying to keep the bare soil covered with something..there was some topsoil and some clay in the fill as it was taken off the field by the contractor..also a good deal of sand.

(and trees, and roots, and fenceposts, glass, concrete..you name it..)

these gardens have been built up with mostly transplanted shrubs and perennials from holding gardens after our fire and any new plants that I could afford to put in..this year we added a couple dozen fruit and nut trees..but only dwarf fruit trees down the bank a bit so as not to be ON the drainfield propery.

Here are a couple pictures of the area taken 2 years ago in late spring..June or July..when it was just getting established.
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this is looking up the slope at the drainfield from the east field by the pond.

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the smoke bush dies back to the ground every winter, honeysuckle are now about 10' tall, this was taken a few  years ago..it is getting pretty solid with perennials..but I always find room to tuck some squash and melons and cucumbers in a bare spot or two to scramble down the banks.

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I'm standing on the circle of lawn that is the raised drainfield that slopes down on all 3 sides..house behind me..the shed and apple tree were there  before the drainfield were put in..there are steps going down from a small deck by the shed..

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2 years ago I moved in a few hosta divisions and some violets and put in some poppies and a few iris and daylillies and some ajuga here..this spring it is already completely covered with blooming violets of purple white and lavender..it is so lush and beautiful..this was taken right after i had completely transplated the new plants to the area..
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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I forgot to mention, because it was a drainfield (and full of weeds) I was not able to rototill or anything like that..perchance would have damaaged the drainfield..so my only choice was to pull weeds or cover them..there are still a lot of weeds that sneak up through the mulch every year..we still have a lot of pulling to do..but i try try try to smother them with more mulch..more mulch..more mulch all the time..or plant things with huge leaves and strong roots to cover and shade out the weeds..some areas are nearly weed free now with ground covers filling in and plants growing very close together as you can see by the one picture..but there are some areas on the east slope..picture # 1..that is still a mass of quack grass..and I'm putting more and more mulch on it as I am able..problem is..being able to get enough stuff to drown out all my weeds on my property without resorting to sprays..sure not enough energy to pull them all !!
 
Leah Sattler
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I totally get it! it feels so good to reach down under the straw/hay mulch that has been there for a year and feel the layer of soft moist crumbly soil that you know is just bursting with life!

I love the pictures you post they are truly inspirational. I am a weed smotherer too. it works great but getting enough material can be challenging especially when you are working with a large area!
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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yes getting materials is very difficult for me, I have a hip replacement and our truck is very very very tall and can't get the guys to get a step put on it for me..i can get in the passenger side..barely..with the pull up strap..but can't get in and out of the driver side so i can't safely drive it..so if i want stuff hauled I have to count on Ron (head injury and lots of mental issues..and very little "want to" or Joel who has his own stuff to do and works ..

we bought the truck to haul stuff with..but honestly..it doesn't haul much.

I bought the wood chips and bought the manure..we have free manure offered to us..but to get anyone to go there and get it is just not happening..i've been begging every summer for many many many years..last time we got some was a few years before our fire (and that was in 2002)

I will be asking my son to help..but now that I have bought the "dairy doo" and have that to work with..i can wait a few weeks to get the manure to put into compost pile for next year..

we also have a chipper..but husband took it apart to sharpen the blades and couldn't remember how to reassemble it (head injury short term memory loss..kinda like alzheimers)..so it sits unusable..(as well as our snowblower and 2 cars..)...Joel will get to fixing them.."when he has time"..
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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I can attest that sheet mulching or "lasagna" gardening along with regular moisture can do wonders for poor soil!

I'm in Central Florida.  The ground around my house is mostly rather fine sand.  We have a wet season that often lasts from mid summer through October and the rest of the year can be quite dry, especially the hot dry part of spring.  This sometimes causes people to call this a wet desert, we get a lot of rain but most of it falls during only three months of the year.

Anyway, All my good garden spots started out as cardboard covered by wood chips, leaves, grass clippings, compost and mushroom compost.  There are now parts of the garden that you can plant seeds into nice beds of dark brown humus with sand down below.  There are actually worms to be found in parts of the garden now and I've only lived here a couple years.

Now I do have an advantage that organic matter does break down quickly in a sub-tropical climate at least anywhere it stays moist.  Even pathways that only got wood chips are turning into stuff I would really love to plant in.

Drawback, it takes quite a lot of organic matter to get fast improvement but a good portion of our organic matter has been delivered right to the house for free, when ever we see tree services working in the neighborhood, we offer them a hand spot to dump the truck if they want/need to.  Otherwise we usually pay a neighbor to use his trailer to bring us loads of mushroom compost.  (we don't own a truck)  We used to also use bins in the van to bring home the free compost from the county but that was often not available, poor quality, and required driving a long way to get it.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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I see, but there is one caveat in Michigan. We are going GREEN bigtime when it comes to energy here now and all of the woodchips and sawdust from places that used to practically give it to you..all of them now go to the cogeneration plants..

we have plants all over michigan now that burn wood and plant waste to make energy..so nothing is going back into the soil..not even the tree tops.

garbage from restaurants, sawmills, pulpers, etc..all is going to cogen plants and being turned into steam to produce power for factories.

they are even actually CUTTING forests now to burn for energy..reducing the amount of firewood available to people who use wood for fuel, and reducing habitat for wildlife.

used to be people like us would manage the wooded areas removing the DEAD trees for firewood..now pulpers remove the live trees and chip them up for pulp and energy..leaving nothing in the forest except maybe baby tree seedlings that take 50 to 100 years to grow.

we had a problem when they reforested several hundreds of acres of woods behind our home (state land) and the bear and deer had no where to go..so they came here..where we still had forests and plants..the deer weren't too bad other than pruning back a lot of stuff..but the bear were fairly destructive.

the aspen trees sent up new growth and filled in in about 5 years..which gave them some cover..but the hardwoods haven't grown back...it is such a sad thing to see when you drive back there..this has gone on all over our state
 
jeremiah bailey
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That's harsh. I just finished school here in Indy. Many of my classmates were from Michigan and were always saying how the Governor is doing a very poor job. I had no clue how poor. I guess there is a whole new meaning to "Green" energy. I was thinking about moving up to Michigan. I think I'll stay in Indiana now.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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You know maybe it does sound harsh, and yes our governer is a real peach..but I love Michigan and no matter how much money you offered me for my home here..i would never move..ever.

I would highly recommend Michigan to anyone that wants to move here..sure we have some problems..but what state doesn't.

I think they thought they were doing something good when they created the plants to burn the waste wood..i don't think they realized that unscrupulous loggers would cut down wood to sell to them just cause they could.

yeah she should have probably had better oversight..but what government oversite works properly around here anywhere..Mich or not.

I hate that they stripped our forests for money..yes..but they are growing back..bit by bit and I am able to forgive their ignorance..and pray that this state will come back better than ever..eventually..

Mrs Granholm is on her final term as governor..now Obama is talking about making her a supreme court justice..i would be happy for her to be gone..but good grief not that way.

just pray we get a decent governor in this election..maybe one that will respect our forests we have left
 
jeremiah bailey
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Actually my real reasoning is that my wife thinks its too cold there. We had our honeymoon there. I loved it. We stayed in Allegan and visited Holland and a winery I think in Fennville. The countryside there is beautiful. It is good to know that she's on her way out. If we did move there, I think I'd like to live in the UP, based on what I hear from my former classmates. My wife wants to move to Florida, but I'd like to live either far north or somewhere between here and Florida. I like Tennessee and N. Carolina. I'd like to do more year-round gardening. But anywhere with good, rich soil would be great!
 
Gwen Lynn
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Gotta say I agree with your wife, Jeremiah.

I lived the first 25 years of my life in the Chicago area, I'm working on the rest of my life in Okla. and I'm as far north as I'd ever want to be. To me, the winters here are less than desirable...but mostly bearable. Except for the ice storms!

It would take a lotta $$$ and guarantees that I'd NEVER have to start a car on a sub-zero morning, AND I'd have my own human sized "terrarium" room with a pond/waterfall, perfect, light, temp, humidity...then I'd MAYBE consider going back up north.

I've been to the main mountainous areas of most of the contiguous US. When I'm there I think, if I absolutely had to live where there was a loooong winter, there would have to be mountains. But...I'd probably chicken out. Cold weather just ain't my thang!
 
Leah Sattler
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I have never lived outside of oklahoma. it took no more than the bi-yearly visits to south dakota to see my grandparents to convince me I could never live up north. It was cool when I was a kid getting to play in the giant snowbanks but now I realize that we were totally trapped when it snowed like that!!! for some reason the older I get the less inclined I am to go play in the cold and wet and think it is fun! If I can't go outside I start pacing the house....and cleaning obsessively......and cooking...which results in eating......and messes........and more cleaning.......
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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ah so you don't like the snow eh? with winters like this we tend to agree...
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However, then there is this:
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and the view of my front yard from my living room window is so peaceful in the wintertime...
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and it is rather hard to keep the birdbaths full
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but one thing for sure, nothing more fun than sitting by a fire under a blanket with a good book watching the wildlife
 
Gwen Lynn
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It's kinda ironic that this thread is called "a joy to dig" and we've ended up with pix of a roof being shoveled off! LOL!

Brenda, where were you in 1967? In the Chicago area, we had what has become known as "the big snow" back then. Can't help but wonder if that same storm made it all the way up to you.

Here's a news link recalling the storm on it's 40th anniv. I was just a little over 6 years old when it happened. I lived less than a block from my grade school. I remember walking there & hardly any other kids or teachers were there. I guess they probably sent me back home that day!

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=weather&id=4973699

I didn't really like playing in the snow as a kid. As soon as I was wet & cold, that was it & I was done. Everybody liked to go sledding at a nearby hilly river basin. I wouldn't go if we walked because everybody was up for 2 hours of sledding. Not me, after a 1/2 hr, I wanted to sit in the car (with the heat on of course!) and wait for them to finish. Guess I was a desert lizard in a former life! 

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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i have lived through some pretty horrendous winters here..the worst one i remember before this one was in the 80's..but there were some humdingers in the 60's as well..I WALKED a mile to school when i was a child..so I went through a lot of bad winters..i remember one time walking home from school sick with a fever in a blizzard and I thought I would die.

I also remember one time driving home from work and i couldn't find the turns..and I prayed and the snow stopped..i got home and looked outside and it had started again so fierce i couldn't see out my window.

I have had some horrendous horror stories I could tell you..but still..I wouldn't move to a hot place for anyones money.
 
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