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Collecting material from beaver bog and putting it in my garden

 
David Bates
Posts: 79
Location: Mountain Grove, Ontario, Canada
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The front corner of our place is a Beaver swamp. That is, it's actually a bog since there aren't any trees. This year I am going to see if the Beavers can help me improve some soil.

Since the Beaver bog is pretty shallow and the Beavers need deep enough water to stay under (without freezing) all winter, they build what we refer to as "Beaver Highways". Deep channels that they dig from place to place including an even deeper pond where they keep their Winter larder. They stay in the lodge, there are no "above water" exits all Winter, they need to have channels and ponds.

So why am I writing this in "Soil"? When the Beavers dig their channels they take all the peat, mostly rotted leaves, water plant roots, Beaver crap, Turtle crap and other assorted "biomass" from the bottom of the bog and put it in hummocks. I just got back with a toboggan load of this stuff. It *looks* amazing. Like years and years worth of stuff that couldn't rot in the stagnant water and is now exposed to the air. It smells fertile and rich.

So I wish I had some litmus paper to measure the pH of my Beaver bog crud but I think that mixing it with a bit of poor soil is going to provide me with some excellent stuff... to start my tomatoes in. I'll work the rest of it into the place where I want to grow Spring lettuce. If that works I may even go out there and plant an apple tree or two.

Fun eh?
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1331
Location: northern California
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We had a beaver at one of the places I lived at in GA. The landlady didn't want it building extensive dams and creating a swamp, so I took up the chore of dismantling the dams on a frequent basis. This yielded lots of sticks and logs, which were dried out for firewood, and what I called "beaver muck"....as you say, stuff the beaver had gathered together from wherever and packed and plastered the dam with. This stuff made a wonderful soil amendment for the acid and infertile soil we were gardening in. We were already adding plenty of wood ash to the gardens so pH wasn't an issue. The biggest problem was actually moving the stuff from the creek uphill to the garden.....it meant a lot of wheelbarrow work. But we were desperate for soil amendments. Some of the leafier stuff I piled up and added urine and let it compost into wonderful potting soil....
 
David Bates
Posts: 79
Location: Mountain Grove, Ontario, Canada
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Excellent news, thanks! I thought it might work. You'd prefer moving it here. I can get a wheelbarrow's worth of it on my toboggan and pull it over the snow... the only trouble is that the bog is melting and the hummocks are still frozen(ish). I can get a new melted layer off every day, I figure. Until the day I go through the ice.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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David so when you say hummocks do you mean on the dam or is there some other place that they pile the "soil" ?

I no longer have beaver, the local ranchers got rid of them years ago. I still have old dams and lots of old bogs that have dried up so I am looking forward to gardening in these old dams.
 
David Bates
Posts: 79
Location: Mountain Grove, Ontario, Canada
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Miles Flansburg wrote:David so when you say hummocks do you mean on the dam or is there some other place that they pile the "soil" ?


Miles, the Beavers pile the soil on old stumps and clumps of shrubs. There is no flowing water so there are no dams. The piles are about five feet above the surface of the snow and about six feet in diameter. Not lodges, just the junk they needed to get out of the way to create deep channels in the bog. Gardening an old existing Beaver dam sounds excellent, I hope you can find some that run in the right direction for you.

It's a few degrees below freezing here this morning but the sky is blue. Once the Sun has been up for a few hours I should be able to get another toboggan load. In the meantime I am sitting here boiling Maple sap. Hard life, eh?
 
Rion Mather
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Miles Flansburg wrote: I still have old dams and lots of old bogs that have dried up so I am looking forward to gardening in these old dams.


I have read old stories of farmers doing that very thing. I would think that soil would be extremely high in nutrients.
 
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