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Dale's roadside gravel pit and compost grinder

 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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My 7.5 acre property is long and skinny. I have just over a kilometre of roadway which is made of the silty gravel that lies under most of the property. This material packs to a hard, relatively smooth surface with loose pebbles on top. The pebbles tend to wash toward the roadside as the road is used. The soil is probably 85% silt and 15% gravel and rock. When I need rock or gravel, I take the wheelbarrow to the roadside and gather some. A winnowing process removes organic materials from the pebbles. A new batch of rock and pebbles is turned up whenever the road is graded. I'll never run out of this abundant supply of clean agregate.

Last summer, I cut down about 200 cottonwood, alder and maple trees in the 3 to 6 inch diameter range in a road improvement/hugelkultur materials work binge. I cut up all of the trunks and hauled them to the garden. All of the leafy branches were left to roast in the hot summer sun. The leaves became crispy dry in short order and I found that driving over them produced a nice fine product. I decided to leave the branches on the road where they were driven on for a couple weeks. My tenant Randy, is an excavator operator. His big truck has dual wheels that easily grind leaves, little branches and bark. Eventually I gathered up the larger branches which had lost all leaves and most bark. With a relatively clear road, Randy began driving faster and like magic, all of the organic materials were blown into neat little rows to either side of the road within a few days. I was able to easily gather wheelbarrows if the stuff to add to the hugelkulturs.

This is the least labor intensive method that I've ever used to reduce materials for composting. We didn't drive up and back over the material to break it down. Only the regular coming and going of Randy and his friends was used. These guys often approach at a speed which makes dust. They slowed down.

Almost all unwelcome visitors to my place arrive aboard ATVs or motorcycles. I suspect that they will take the other road by the power lines once they discover that mine is regularly covered in branches.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I cut a few hundred more young, 50 ft. trees. Most were felled across the road and processed there. I've dropped most trees within falling distance of a 1000 sq ft hugelkultur bed. The small branches that cover the logs, work as a sieve which allows the powdery soil to pour through while trapping rocks larger than an apple. As the soil is dug, Randy drags rocks over 100 lb to the roadside. I toss the remainder that are sifted by the branches into a long pile along the road.

The first photo shows roadside leaves used to mulch potatoes. They are heavy with silt and don't blow around.

Some of these rocks are the size of a laundry basket. Many will be used to shore up the south face of the hugel bed which adjoins the road. The flattest specimens will be used for hillside steps and other building uses.

The last photo shows an area of branches covered with soil and the rocks on the surface.
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Dale Hodgins
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Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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When we excavate to 30 inches deep, the beds produce about 10 lb of rock per sq ft. The 1000 sq ft bed has given me 5 tons of rock. This is a blessing and a curse. It slows the building process but exposes lots of rock for later use. At this rate, the production of an acre of hugel beds will turn up over 200 tons of rock. Some areas will be dug deeper, so I need to invent projects that use rock.
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Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I processed some wood on the roadway and left the little stuff. Two weeks later they looked like this. I rake these up for mulch.

In some areas, I'm getting a build up of rubble in the 1-4 inch range. This provides a perfect base for stacking firewood between trees and stumps.The north side of the road is the hottest, dryest part of the land. There's more sun and reflected heat from the road. Wood dries out in a month. It can't stay there for the winter, but its the most expedient place to stack little bits as it is produced. In the fall, all will be gathered as I drive along the road. Most firewood is produced within 30 ft of the road. This means that there is very little handling of wet wood. Only nice dry stuff is hauled to storage.
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Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I gathered some ground material today. Most leaves came down in a wind storm last week. I'm getting one full garbage can weighing about 30 lb, for every 20 ft of roadway. I'll only clean up the road on a 300 ft stretch near the garden. This is much quicker than I could gather material from a lawn. There's no grass and it's all concentrated along the sides. The leaves will be covered by coffee grounds as supply allows.
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allen lumley
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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books fungi hugelkultur solar wofati woodworking
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Dale thats definitely stacking functions, I have a friend that the workings of time and tide swings me by his place once a month, he sells cedar fence posts off of
his land and is peeling the bark off preparatory to building a Cordwood house I collect bark off of his driveway, that has had stones ground into it until it feels like
gritty thick velour cloth , this stuff makes the best char cloth and probably 200 re-inactors and as many again Hunters carry some Big AL char cloth.

I have even run into people who don't know me from a sack of door knobs tell me how good it is ! Big AL
 
Marianne West
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Pretty cool stuff you are doing, Dale. Will be interesting to see what you are going to do with all the rocks.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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allen lumley wrote:Dale thats definitely stacking functions,

I collect bark off of his driveway, that has had stones ground into it until it feels like gritty thick velour cloth , this stuff makes the best char cloth and probably 200 re-inactors and as many again Hunters carry some Big AL char cloth.

I have even run into people who don't know me from a sack of door knobs tell me how good it is ! Big AL


I assume that they are Civil War re-inactors. Is it just for fire starting, or is it used for cannon or flintlock guns ?

I gathered 15 cans of leaves and spread them in a couple ridges on the hugel bed. They were covered by 300 lb of coffee grounds.

The frog was lurking in the rock pile.
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Dale Hodgins
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Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Marianne West wrote:Pretty cool stuff you are doing, Dale. Will be interesting to see what you are going to do with all the rocks.


Thanks Marianne. Everything I do produces rocks. They will go in walls, foundations, steps, drain fields, rubble trenches ... I will use some nice flat ones for steps in this project. The banks are very steep. Steps will make it safer.
http://www.permies.com/t/39047/projects/Dale-series-farm-improvement-projects
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allen lumley
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
58
books fungi hugelkultur solar wofati woodworking
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Dale : Fire starting, Often the flintlock and especially the flintlock pistol is used to 'throw' the spark, the Cedar Char just catches it!

A lot of rein actors will tell you, that the kind of frontiersman who wood waste cloth to make char cloth wasn't really a woodsman
at all, but a town-y with candies and a clothing allowance as someones bonded servant or journeyman !

Many of them Actually carry an old butane lighter, that has run out of gas and still throws a spark ! But I didn't tell you that! Big AL
 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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The grinder is still doing it while I'm away.
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I'm constructing what I believe will be one of the worlds largest cordless vacuum cleaners.

My 56 volt cordless blower will be used as the power source and a large garbage can on six inch wheels will be the reservoir.

The vacuum head will rest on small wheels and will be set so that it doesn't pick up much gravel. I will walk slowly along the road and vacuum up the lighter grindings.

After the organic material is vacuumed from the roadside,  the blower will be used as a winnowing device to make pure gravel for other purposes.
 
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