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Topsoil from forest?  RSS feed

 
bill archer
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Location: Oregon Zone 8b
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Hi Permies,
I started over the weekend to move logs from forest down to a trench that will undoubtedly only serve to channel the vast amounts of rain directly under the house. My hope is that the logs retain water while preventing flooding at the same time. I'd like to work with what we have, and notice in the forest area where trees have fallen over the years there is lots of red dirt, nothing like the clay/rock we have on the lower levels of land. Is it OK to use this dirt as the topsoil, which will go on top of the thin layer of horse manure? Is this the right order? logs->green/compost/twigs -> horse manure from quality fed horses -> forest topsoil? Perhaps after digging up the forest dirt, I can plant a tree that will aid in food forestry since a hole will be prepared for it anyway. Thanks for your help as always.
 
Joshua Finch
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Topsoil from a healthy forest... is quite tempting. If I were to remove any topsoil, it would only be small amounts to put into planting holes in order to inoculate appropriate transplants. I would not remove topsoil for entire garden beds. Personally, I would be after the organisms from the soil more than the soil itself. You can build the soil with the help of these organisms.

So either bring small amounts to put right around the roots of transplants, or bring organic matter into the forest. Put this OM (clean, disease free woodchips and such) down in a location where it is likely to be colonized by the forest organisms. Once colonized, you can then bring this material back into your garden to transfer them to your soil.

I'd also be wary of removing too many logs from the forest since they are acting as nutrient and water sponges there. Careful consideration of the needs of the forest would always be foremost in my mind.
 
James Slaughter
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They're also often providing habitat for some of your garden friendly predators.
Be aware of certain varieties of fungus, as not all these guys are beneficial.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armillaria
 
Joshua Finch
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Yes, I forgot to mention the risk of harmful organisms making the best of your collection efforts. Good reminder James!
 
LaLena MaeRee
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Also, I see you are in Oregon and mention horse manure. I do not know how far this contamination is spreading, but you may want to be aware of the herbicide currently wreaking havoc on Washington~
Contaminated Manure
I figure it can't hurt to spread the word, maybe we can help get the spread of this stuff slowed down some before it wipes out more of our food.
 
bill archer
Posts: 58
Location: Oregon Zone 8b
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James Slaughter wrote:They're also often providing habitat for some of your garden friendly predators.
Be aware of certain varieties of fungus, as not all these guys are beneficial.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armillaria


Had no idea there was a risk here. All the videos etc I've watched didn't warn about this.
So if I have to get my logs/brush from the forest, should I be looking out for mushroom growth? What about the green mossy stuff growing on the older logs, is this unsafe? Is there a way to know for sure that I'm getting quality logs/wood from the forest?

I've included a pic of my efforts thus far. I usually have an hour or so of daylight by the time I get home. Definitely been manual labor.
IMAG2395.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMAG2395.jpg]
 
bill archer
Posts: 58
Location: Oregon Zone 8b
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Joshua Finch wrote:Topsoil from a healthy forest... is quite tempting. If I were to remove any topsoil, it would only be small amounts to put into planting holes in order to inoculate appropriate transplants. I would not remove topsoil for entire garden beds. Personally, I would be after the organisms from the soil more than the soil itself. You can build the soil with the help of these organisms.

So either bring small amounts to put right around the roots of transplants, or bring organic matter into the forest. Put this OM (clean, disease free woodchips and such) down in a location where it is likely to be colonized by the forest organisms. Once colonized, you can then bring this material back into your garden to transfer them to your soil.

I'd also be wary of removing too many logs from the forest since they are acting as nutrient and water sponges there. Careful consideration of the needs of the forest would always be foremost in my mind.


Thanks for the info/advice Joshua. When you say colonized, do you mean covered with natural things from the forest like fallen leaves/twigs etc?
When you say too many logs- this is something I also wondered about. Am I harming the forest habitat by removing fallen logs/debris to use in the hugel bed?
 
bill archer
Posts: 58
Location: Oregon Zone 8b
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LaLena MaeRee wrote:Also, I see you are in Oregon and mention horse manure. I do not know how far this contamination is spreading, but you may want to be aware of the herbicide currently wreaking havoc on Washington~
Contaminated Manure
I figure it can't hurt to spread the word, maybe we can help get the spread of this stuff slowed down some before it wipes out more of our food.


Thank you so much for this, I had no idea! A local Equestrian center posted an ad for free manure to get rid of their pile. I'm worried now! I assumed that an equestrian center would only be feeding the best to their horses, and that it would be OK.
What should I ask? Is there a way to know whether or not I'm getting good quality manure? It's probably not worth the risk if I can't get good answers.. Perhaps I should be safe and buy from an organic farm I can trust. Free just sounded too good.

 
Joshua Finch
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By colonized I mean that you should be able to see a large masses of mycelium on the material you brought, say wood chips. You'd be able to pick up the wood chips in chunks because the fungi have bound them together with their mass. Given that it would take at least a few weeks for such a level of growth, your wood chips (the substrate) will probably be mostly decomposing organisms. However, I would imagine that if you had a substrate of wood chips, then had leaves/compost on top of said substrate, that you'd also be able to have other types of organisms there as well. So you'd be able to bring both types of material back to your garden. I've never done this technique, only read about it in Edible Forest Gardens.

And about the number of logs, the answer would be "it depends." I have no idea what your forest looks like, how many fallen logs there are, how much brush is left behind, etc. Even if I did, I'm not qualified to say. Just something to keep in mind is all.
 
bill archer
Posts: 58
Location: Oregon Zone 8b
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Joshua Finch wrote:By colonized I mean that you should be able to see a large masses of mycelium on the material you brought, say wood chips. You'd be able to pick up the wood chips in chunks because the fungi have bound them together with their mass. Given that it would take at least a few weeks for such a level of growth, your wood chips (the substrate) will probably be mostly decomposing organisms. However, I would imagine that if you had a substrate of wood chips, then had leaves/compost on top of said substrate, that you'd also be able to have other types of organisms there as well. So you'd be able to bring both types of material back to your garden. I've never done this technique, only read about it in Edible Forest Gardens.

And about the number of logs, the answer would be "it depends." I have no idea what your forest looks like, how many fallen logs there are, how much brush is left behind, etc. Even if I did, I'm not qualified to say. Just something to keep in mind is all.


Got it! Much appreciated. I've posted more Hugelkultur based questions in the big HK thread.
All this talk of bad organisms, contaminated horse manure etc is terrifying! Due to the amount of labor involved in making this little HK bed happen I am considering the purchase of some yards of material from a local retailer. Posted my option in the HK thread as well. Hopefully by mixing steer compost with forest dirt it will improve the dirt.
 
bill archer
Posts: 58
Location: Oregon Zone 8b
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bill archer wrote:
LaLena MaeRee wrote:Also, I see you are in Oregon and mention horse manure. I do not know how far this contamination is spreading, but you may want to be aware of the herbicide currently wreaking havoc on Washington~
Contaminated Manure
I figure it can't hurt to spread the word, maybe we can help get the spread of this stuff slowed down some before it wipes out more of our food.


Thank you so much for this, I had no idea! A local Equestrian center posted an ad for free manure to get rid of their pile. I'm worried now! I assumed that an equestrian center would only be feeding the best to their horses, and that it would be OK.
What should I ask? Is there a way to know whether or not I'm getting good quality manure? It's probably not worth the risk if I can't get good answers.. Perhaps I should be safe and buy from an organic farm I can trust. Free just sounded too good.



When I arrived to check out the manure/sawdust mixture there was a local veteran gardener who had been using their manure and said it had been good for them. Also looks like a couple acres of hay is grown on-site. Going to try it out and see what happens. Here's hoping
 
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