• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

it's a stump, it's a stumpper

 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am not sure where this belongs...  I found something in my yard, and I am unsure of how to continue.

In my front is a raised bed made from 4 landscape timbers in the middle of my yard.  On top of and slightly inside was a round of fake plastic rock looking boarder not put in quite right.  Filling this bed was a sorry little tiny Rose Of Sharon plant surrounded by a bunch of red dyed mulch with a little grass/weeds coming in around it.

As I was pulling the weeds and grass out I noticed the strange lack of life.  No worms to speak of.  I decided it may be the dyed mulch and didn't like the fake look anyway.  I took off the plastic rocks and dug away most of the red mulch, thinking to rebed it with cardboard and mulch with good healthy mulch and be able to grow food after a few seasons of detox crops. 

Well so then the plant wanted to fall over.  Poor little ROS was planted in the mulch with roots running barely under the surface.  A little more digging reveals that under the mulch is a thin layer of soils.  Under that, under the ROS, is a stump. 

A stump covered in plastic and surrounded with gravel.  The gravel appears to be quite deep unlike the soils layer.  At first I thought, “oh good, I needed some gravel for that puddle in the drive“.  I quit digging though upon realizing how deep and wide the gravel is. 

When I first found the stump I had planned to just plant the plant next to the stump but now with all that gravel will there ever be worms and life there?  I am not sure what kinds of poison they put on the stump so this is another non food bed…getting too many of those around here and I am not liking it. 

Should I take the plastic off and dig out the gravel or simply cover it all over like I found it but with shallower rooted plants?

Could this be a gray water or other type holding thing?  Septic tank is in back.
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
it is a wooden stump? like and old tree? I wonder if someone had an ugly stump they first decided to kill and cover with gravel and when that was still ugly just put a small raised bed over it. if you can create a deep enough raised bed over it the worms should be fine. is the plastic extensive enough to prevent drainage? personally I would renovate the whole thing. I can't imagine it being some kind of grey water system if it had a tree growing out of it at some point.
 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good morning Leah,

Thank you for taking the time to reply.  Yes it is a tree stump.  The gravel is around it, plastic is over it, and all covered by a thin layer of soil. 

I too would have built a bed over a stump, but no plastic or gravel, just lots of horse manure. 

I just became so overwhelmed at the sight of what I unearthed.

I am thinking that it all needs to come out.  The gravel is not going to rot the stump like the manure will.  Gravel is better in drive than in the garden.  Or at least some of it till I give in.  It looks to be pretty deep to me.  What do you think they put on the stump under the plastic?

Oh, and remember that ROS plant?  It still needed to be planted somewhere, couldn't just leave it to die.  I decided to do a little pruning and found it was two tiny plants. 

Would it be better to use just horse manure around stump or a mixture of manure, wood (oak) chips, and or hay?
 
Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just a guess here. I am thinking that they did not use anything on that stump. You of course would need to get a soil report to be sure. I think the tree fell or was cut and new growth came up all around it. They cut that growth back and then covered it with plastic and gravel to smother the remaining life out of the tree. It looked like hell so someone (Realtor, angry spouse, etc.) wanted it dressed up or hidden.

Gravel isn't really a problem if you have plenty of dirt and organic matter, it adds drainage and helps break up a heavy clay soil. But if you have a lot of it you might want to fill in the drive or build a few hills etc to spread it around some. Maybe burst the raised bed and use the gravel to extend or re-engineer the bed etc. On the stump good old fire during the wet season should handle most of it. Another thought would be to plug it with mushrooms and let them do the work.

If it is attractive enough to be feasible I think I would burst the beds, spread out the gravel and move it around to engineer a new raised bed with the stump exposed, mushrooms plus a nice flowering vine to crawl up/around the stump maybe. Could also bore deep enough down the stump to fill with soil and plant directly in the stump. Remember some drainage holes if you go that route. Succulents would serve well here for planting the stump. The right succulents would also work as pollinator attractors. I have been incorporating succulents into all of my gardens over the last few years and the pollinators really love it. The gravel could be path material also through the newly designed raised bed. I wouldn't worry about the worms probably they were driven away by the red dyed mulch and the general lack of anything they desire. Just make sure there is another way besides coming up through the gravel for the worms to get into the garden. Bursting the raised beds will do this for you.

Some pictures might help others see the same things you are and help them give some better suggestions or ideas.

Jeff



 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you Jeff for the well tought out answer.

Where do I get a soil report?  Is the same as soil sample for amendments? 

I took photos but can not seem to resize on new computer.  Still learning vista.

I am thinking I need to get a container to put the soil in to reuse later.  Dig out most gravel and use as fill in drive (nice as I have a large puddle right where we get out to open gate) then refill bed covering stump not with plastic but with horse manure (I have a seemingly endless supply).  I will not rebuild beds to former height (fake rock) but will keep the landscape timbers.  It is going to take a while for me to dig it out as I have plenty of other things to do too. 

For future refrence... do I mix any wood or hay with manure?  What would be good detox crops to grow?  They need to be ornimental, and shallow rooted over the stump, soil cleaners or builders. I hear that worms are the best detox going, anyone know anything?

Side note... I found that trailer mats will kill weeds but not grass under them if moved around often.  I learned a long time ago that they will kill everything under them if not moved. 
 
Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Usually you would get a soils report from your local extension office, but since you think poison/chemicals are involved you probably want to contact a local environmental laboratory. I am not familiar with the various chemical ways to treat stumps but hopefully there is only a few specific chemicals used that you could then have the lab test for.

Your best best I think would be to find out for sure if there is anything in the soil or not. Your local extension office should be able to direct you to local sources for tests and labs if necessary.

Once you know what you are dealing with you can search out plants that detoxify soil. Unfortunately it depends on the toxin which plants will work. Sunflowers for example are supposed to be good for leaching out heavy metals, I have heard though you have to dig them up and bag them and send them to an incinerator to properly dispose of the heavy metals. I have also read mushrooms are being use in soil remediation with remarkable results. But remember if there is contamination all these things will require retesting at some point maybe even multiple times to be sure it is gone. If it is not too much soil it might be cheaper to have it simply dug up and taken to an incinerator directly.

Okay so having said all that I did a bit of research on chemical stump removal and it appears that potassium nitrate is the most common chemical used in stump removal. To use it you would drill holes deep into the stump and fill them with the potassium nitrate. It basically speeds up the rotting process, sounds like from 20 years to 10 maybe if your lucky. So if the stump doesn't have any holes....you are looking better and better, if it does a regular soil report might show an increased level of potassium and/or nitrogen which would suggest the use of a chemical stump remover. On the plus side potassium nitrate is commonly used as a water soluble fertilizer to provide both nitrogen and potassium.

On the manure it would depend on the type and the intended use. Manure high in hay, grass or straw content (like your horse manure) can often be composted by itself with no additions or even used in small amounts directly. With a lot of it you could do hugelkultur with it by covering the logs/wood with it before adding your top soil. Other hotter manure like chickens should be mixed with browns and fully composted before use, or left in place over the winter to compost naturally and be planted in the spring otherwise it will burn all but the toughest and heaviest feeders.

Jeff
 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey, thanks again Jeff.

Like I said I have covered the mess for now and will get back to it.  I am not ready for all that digging right now.  But what I have been doing is dumping cart-fulls of manure in places I plan to plant in the spring. 

I hope to have dead spots of high fertility to plant in...right now it looks like big piles of poop

I will have company this week and then my time will have to be split even more as I will have 2 project horses to work with.  But also a housemate/helping hand.

When I get back to this project I can let you know but I think my real wealth as a gardener is all these horses. 

But truth be told, I only got into gardening to find creative ways to get rid of horse poo. 

 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
listenstohorses wrote:
I only got into gardening to find creative ways to get rid of horse poo. 


I bet some neighbors of yours would be willing to colalborate on that.

They get free manure, and you both get company/help on some jobs that are easier with more than two hands.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  It is a strange forum that has lots of information in it though I thought it would not turn up much.
  I wanted to say just forget it for a day or two, sometimes when you tackle a small job and find out its a bigger one and haven't had time to think about it, about how to handle totally unexpected issues it  just seems overwhelming and a day or two later it seems easy.
    We are educated to think of Sherlock Holmes pacing up and down trying to think of the answer to his case and artists doing the same and for some people like me, no one has indicated that part of manual work is thinking about how to do it, manual work is meant to be simple, unintellectual and then i feel bad if it needs thinking about, i feel as if i am not working when i think about whatever it is, so if a manual job springs on me, rather than being a job I had been unconsciously planning for, for awhile i feel confused, as thinking is not part of what I used to deem appropriate to manual jobs. i don't sit down and think for an hour or get out the encyclopedia, i just freak out.   
    What fun died mulch. agri rose macaskie.
 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you so much Rose.  That is exactly what I did, covered it over and had a great week of company.  We got some pens put in the barn and many much needed fixes in place on our home.

Rose, I have read many of your posts and want to say thank you.  You have taken much of your time on several occasions to give information. 

I now have a housemate/helper and plan to get back at that front bed in the next few days...in fact I think I will go out and uncover it right now to let in a bit of rain/sun.  Also with it uncovered it will bother me till it is done, lol. 
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
25
books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great information.

I like Jeff's idea of uncovering and using that stump (if you could).  And using all that gravel where you need it, what a find.  But I can sympathize with you on the amount of work this would be.

Stump Burning - if you want to get rid of the stump you can make a small dip in the top of the stump and put a few briquettes in a pile on it.  Then light as you would for a barbecue   Add briquettes as needed.  They will slow burn down into the stump - burning from the inside out, and safer than a regular fire.

Water and horse manure will go a long way toward breaking down the stump for you, but they will take time and you will have to landscape, as you've mentioned, living with the stump for a good while. 

One way to cover the stump decoratively would be to put down a large tree branch (5" or more diameter ) with curves and twists, then back fill behind it making a raised bed with tree trim.  If the branch has moss on it - Bonus!  You could use a lot of your manure in the bed.

Blessings,

~Jami
 
                                
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Have you considered the possibility that this may be part of a french drain system? If so, you need to proceed carefully. (The large vein of gravel is an indicator to me that drainage may be involved ... )Altering it in any way could substantially change the drainage around your house, probably not for the better.

perkinsnac
 
                                
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"Could this be a gray water or other type holding thing?  Septic tank is in back."

Oops, missed that first time through your post. Yes, it could. Some field lines do indeed use gravel.  Also, such a bed might be used to disguise mechanicals of some sort related to a septic system ...

In all, I'd be very leery of considering it a great source of free gravel. My guess is you'd have a real mess on your hands if you go digging this up.

Good luck,

perkinsnac
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 20430
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've only read halfway through the thread but have too many things in my head to hold back.

landscape timbers:  I would get rid of those.  In my garden, I would much rather have rotting wood than have wood that rots slowly yet poisons things.

A plastic rock could have some use.  Somewhere.  I suppose.

The dyed mulch is really creepy.

The stump:  does it have holes in it as if somebody tried to drill holes and then put toxic gick in the holes?  If not, then it is probably perfectly fine to use as hugelkultur.

Gravel:  yeah!  If there's a bunch in there, sift it out and use it for something gravelly!

I think the dyed mulch, landscape timber and plastic rocks are pretty good signs that we don't have a graywater fan here.

graywater: Based on plastic over the stump - I would guess that it is a type of tree that kept shooting up suckers.  So the owner put plastic over it and gravel over that to put weight on the plastic.  And then dirt and dyed mulch over that to hide the gravel. 

I suspect that the stump has no poison on it - because if it did, the owner wouldn't have used the plastic and the gravel.

soil report:  I think a toxicity report would be what you are looking for, but those are freaky expensive.  I would probably skip that.

getting rid of the stump:  there are a lot of fascinating things down this road (burning with a sort of burn barrel is probably the most effective; filling it with salt-lick salt and having deer chomp it away is not a bad solution either) - best left for a new thread.  I think hugelkultur would be the best solution.

french drain:  I would think that if it were a french drain, there would be no stump.

(made it to the end!)

I would filter out the gravel, get rid of  the timber, the dyed mulch and the plastic.  I would use the stump as the center of a glorious hugelkultur.






 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul, I love your spin. 

Yes I have some low areas in my yard that could greatly benifit from the topsoil and low places that hold water in my gravel drive. 

I am feeing better about it, but have not looked too hard at it yet.  I pulled the mats off the other day and saw a bunch of white and yellow plants, stuff trying to grow under those mats...mush be tough stuff...it is hot under there.  I recovered till I get out my shovel and cart in the next week or so.

I hear that earth worms do a great job of detoxifying soil.  Know anything of this?  I already have lots of mushrooms growing out of my horse poo piles so figure when backfilled with manure I should get the benifits of fungus there too.

See I have plenty to do here, and friends and family thought I might get bored and into trouble here, lol.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
listenstohorses. Thanks a lot for the praise .
and Paul Wheaton. Please whats a grey water fan and please tell me more about rotting wood opposed to wood that rots slowly and poisons things.
    your bit, " It would not help warming or cooling things as it got hot in the sun and then radiated heat to the plants for instance, it would not provid a surface for dew, humidity laden air, to condense on at night and in this way providing a poor mans drip for a plant.

  I have found a lovely modern and maybe kitch-ish, lively coloured though it looks as if the colours are achieved by bits using plants like heather or red earth, garden designer whose strange division of the garden into modern abstract art areas, sort of Kandinsky or  Klee-ish painting overall designs might fit in with the strange permaculture upheavals in the natural landscape caused by making berms an ditches and lakes, provide an aesthetic for them. look up "Site of Reversible Destiny", site, in this case is in the terrainal sense not the internet one, in google and open up variouse of the articles to get a fair idea of the garden from the photos. It does not take long to see the few fotos in each site, it is not like looking up youtube videos, strangely time consuming.  It is designed by Shusaku Arakawa, and Madeline Gins. agri rose macaskie.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 20430
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul Wheaton. Please whats a grey water fan and please tell me more about rotting wood opposed to wood that rots slowly and poisons things.


greywater fan:  Somebody that is a fan (advocate, aficionado ...) of greywater.

rotting wood:  If you have wood that is "treated" so that it rots slower, it is treated with a toxin.  So as it slowly rots, it releases the toxin. 

 
Jeremy Bunag
gardener
Posts: 231
Location: Central IL
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Would putting some mushroom dowels and "fungussing" it up work, as a centerpiece to a quirky garden?  Or is it too deep already?  There's all this talk about fungal remediation that may help with whatever might have happened to it...
 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well here was todays project. 

At one time there was a propane tank here.  When the tank came out there were big concrete base pieces that had to go, they left big holes.  So...

First, out of the pasture with stones to fill holes then with the top soil from that stump bed.  As you can see someday this will also be a nice garden bed, I hope.  it is on the south side of the house so should get plenty of light and warmth. 

So many projects here.

Next I will post photos (if this works) of the stump bed morning and evening, not before and after yet by a long way but making a dent and and doing other projects as we go.
053.JPG
[Thumbnail for 053.JPG]
064.JPG
[Thumbnail for 064.JPG]
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i agree with Jeff and Paul about your stump area but i would have the soil tested before i remove anything to another area..as if it is dangerous you don't want to spread it around anywhere..except maybe the gravel into the driveway.

it appears close to a building..so you will want to do something..my guess would be to build a pretty little raised bed by adding good soil on top of the old mess..and then plant shallow rooted plants on top of the good coil..that are not food plants..maybe things like iris and daylilllies and other perennial plants..they live throughjust about anything..i wouldn't put any deep rooted plants in this area at all..ever.

esp since they could damage your foundation to your buildling

 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The bed in these photos here is a virgin bed, used to be a propane tank here.  Better photos are at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2016321&id=1391592328&l=2543a06f15 ; of various projects around here including my "pet stump" and all.  Any and all suggestions and advise welcome.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 20430
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Next-to-the-wood-house stuff is different. 

I would not allow any soil to come within six inches of the wood.

 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I appreciate the advise about next to house plantings and wood.  This bed is next to concrete foundation and will settls and be much lower as it is mostly fresh horse manure and grass clippings with some wood branches thron in.  Oh, and the paper feed sacks of course.

Someone mentioned concrete leaching and changing the PH... something else to think about.
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jennifer Smith wrote:Good morning Leah,

Thank you for taking the time to reply

I too would have built a bed over a stump, but no plastic or gravel, just lots of horse manure.
I just became so overwhelmed at the sight of what I unearthed.

The gravel is not going to rot the stump like the manure will.; Gravel is better in drive than in the garden.; Or at least some of it till I give in.; It looks to be pretty deep to me.; What do you think they put on the stump under the plastic?

Oh, and remember that ROS plant?; It still needed to be planted somewhere...

...

Would it be better to use just horse manure around stump or a mixture of manure, wood (oak) chips, and or hay?


Jennifer,

I disagree with some of the above information. What photo is being referenced in this? or?

My principle disagreement is with the comment on gravel. Gravel is very good at creating moisture wells. Moisture is a good thing for the right kind of rot to happen. Horse manure can dry out. Especially if you've accidentally left (or time has created) air pockets.
 
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!