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Playing with Stumps in the City

 
kara mia
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My research on incorporating permaculture and hugel-ish elements in urban settings keeps leading me to wonderful threads in this community. So am signing up and asking for a little input. I'm renting in Vancouver, BC. Limited resources at the moment, but landlord and roomie are offering some space and supplies for my experiments, as long as it looks decent, and i do the work.

My Project..."The Stump"
She's about 3 1/2 ft diameter. Full sun location. On a gentle southern slope, with more bark exposed in some spots than others.Time has already hollowed nearly a foot deep leaving walls. Around the stump is easily liftable dry lawn grass plus some volunteers like holly, hazelnut and a dagger bush from other parts of the yard.

I was originally thinking of playing with hugel-meets-lasagna-meets-composting inside the stump and leaving the outside exposed to watch nature do her thing. I've read lots of tips here about working in and over stumps depending on the situation and goal.

THing is...I have just rescued 1/2 dozen dwarf blueberry bushes, some strawberries, a raspberry and a mini pine.....And the landlord has given me a bit of organic soil that happens to be suitable for acidic plants and raised beds. Seems the Fae are conspiring, cuz I can't get the idea of a "Berry RIng" around the stump out of my head, using the exposed outer trunk as a back wall for a bit of a raised bed or planted pockets...using clippings coffee grounds, twigs and needles and this new bit o dirt with some rocks to steady the slope. THen either planting in the top too, or using it as a small hidden yard waste composter.

So I am wondering if this sounds doable in general, or if experience says just cover the whole thing. And Specifically, i am debating whether i should just fork the grass, flip it over and move it about to create more depth and level the grade, dig 'down, or just work on top of it....and wondering how far from the stump plants should be so they dont get too disturbed as the stump breaks down.

Any tips or advice from seasoned stumpers would be so appreciated!
Kara

attempting to attach a couple pics from me exploring the area


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John Elliott
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Fill the hole in the stump with some reasonably good soil mix and plant some winter squash. You've got 3 months+ before the cold weather sets in and you could get some nice squash out of it. Use a squash variety that is more of the bush type and has big leaves and it will make people take notice of what you are doing.
 
Dale Hodgins
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There's no hope of getting mature winter squash in Vancouver if planted in August. We may not get frost until November, but a month from now, summer heat will be over.

I would fill the stump with coffee waste and let the worms do their thing. I've used 2 tons of coffee this year, on very woody slash piles. The blueberries are a good one. Wood chips are freely available from landscapers. Cover the whole thing with a mix of chips and coffee. I average about a 200 lb. per haul on visits to several Starbucks bins. Chard, kale and garlic are good winter crops. It's going to need some summer watering at first. Several projects around here look like hell because they have dried out badly. My 2000 sq. ft. of hugel/slash piles are doing well. Most stumps in my damp areas have naturally occurring huckleberries in them.

Stumps look good surrounded by salal and Oregon grape. It's available for free, when land is cleared.

A hollow stump seems like an ideal core for a key hole garden.
 
John Elliott
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Dale Hodgins wrote:There's no hope of getting mature winter squash in Vancouver if planted in August. We may not get frost until November, but a month from now, summer heat will be over.


Oh well, I kind of thought that might be pushing it. But it would work here!
 
Dale Hodgins
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John Elliott wrote:
Dale Hodgins wrote:There's no hope of getting mature winter squash in Vancouver if planted in August. We may not get frost until November, but a month from now, summer heat will be over.


Oh well, I kind of thought that might be pushing it. But it would work here!


We would get some lovely big leaves and possibly some blossoms. My gardening partner is constantly watering tomatoes in order to ensure that we have a ton of green ones when the cold weather hits. I think the idea is to trick the plant into behaving as though it's spring.

I often see people gardening like mad on something that was started too late. It's best to totally prepare the site with a fall planting and be ready when spring comes. The garden that we started on July 09 last year, contained many things that didn't fully mature.
 
kara mia
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THank you John and Dale for your speedy replies, ideas and advice!
Oh, i had the vision of squash flowing out of this, but alas, missed the squash boat for this area, unless i wanted to play with nursery rejects, lol. Have been saving grounds and sourcing chips, YaY...was even given some chard, kale, peas, carrot, and corn salad seeds to try small late season plantings in other spots of this yard, so perhaps my stump can be part of that. A little of this and that here and there and observe who is happiest where. If nothing else I'll get extra greens. I adore Salal and O-grape, am keeping my eyes peeled for volunteers And yes, i wondered about a kind of Keyhole, too, thanks for mentioning that....Once the landlord said sure, have at the stump i went into what can i do right away, now - today, hahaha. I will pause and muse. Maybe.

And pardon...if i went with the fill/cover and do a little fall planting, were you also including sticking the baby blueberries around nowish, or holding them in pots till thing stew and settle a little more?

Thanks again, you guys
 
Dale Hodgins
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Jewell Hemenway
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I planted my two year old high bush blueberries in a mix of fine composted bark with a little bit of compost. One grew over five feet tall the first year and the other over three feet tall. Like mentioned keep well watered the first year or so. In the wild huckleberries (a close relative to blueberries) grow on stumps in the Olympic Mts.. The largest blueberry bushes I have ever seen (15 feet tall) were grown in a cement pit where rotted logs had been tossed. With my older blueberry plants I have found that with time they will develop huge tree like roots and don't require watering in our dry season.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do. That stump will be looking good soon.
 
Tim Wells
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stump hole looks perfect for a blueberry plant into ericaceous acicdic compost (ph 6 is acidic enough imo)

i would excavate soil and replace with acidic round outside of stump for blueberries

you must do what you have been dreaming of or you will always wonder if that would have been better than the advice here!
 
Judith Browning
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My raspberries seem to love being planted around stumps. I have several stump 'guilds' going...some discussion in STUMPS AND THEIR ROOTS AS A BASIS FOR FRUIT TREE GUILDS
Mine are all white oak stumps and various ages but none were newly cut when I planted. I would have strawberries there too but the deer here love them. I had planned to try blueberrries also. I don't think I would plant them together with the raspberries though because of their different PH needs.
I love your idea.............I think that the roots underground will benefit plants similar to the idea of hugelkultur. I have had interesting things show up around the stump also...I think birds like to perch there and have planted echinacea for me at two of them The chocolate mint seems to work great with the raspberries in one area and I have oregano and thyme and feverfew at another......and cherry trees and other plants circling the stump.
I planted the raspberries within three feet of the stumps....the closest within a foot and it is maybe the best.

I haven't done any mulching, I just cover the ground with plants and the bark, etc from the stump and old tree itself.
we have a lot of trees around so the planted stump areas seem to catch enough blown in leaves naturally.

one more edit.............I didn't add any soil to the area....just dug into what was there, which was pretty nice (since it was decomposing bark and leaves) but rocky...I cut and pulled some grasses and still do , but mainly tried to add enough fast growing things to cover the area quickly.
 
Dale Hodgins
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A note on stumps and wicking.--- I have found that stumps on my dry slopes decay slowly. They get lots of winter rain, but they roast in the sun all summer. Taller stumps last longer. They present more surface area to the sun and wind. Undergrowth near them is less vigorous. Some stumps in the same zone were cut off close to the ground and were soon shaded by Oregon grape and salal. These stumps now have salal and huckelberries rooted in them and surrounding growth is more vigourous. It appears that tall stumps, in full sun, wick their moisture to the sky, while short shaded ones stay wetter and wick moisture to surrounding plants.
 
David Goodman
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You're thinking along the right lines for sure.

I once took a chunk of log with a rotten hole in the center and grew a fine cabbage in it.
HugelstumpCabbage.jpg
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kara mia
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I am so grateful for everyone's input...and for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences...Oh, and for the apple, Yum and Thankyou!

Dale - Thank you for the more than kind invitation, I'll certainly touch base if I'm in the area, what you're up to sounds amazing. And BiG. Appreciate your wicking wand wisdom, this is a different stump for me since she is in full sun.

But OHgodz peeps she's a beauty, and apparently been here for many years...she's crumbling into spongy bits, revealing secret stashes of stump dirt. The neighbours must think I'm insane as I exclaim you gorgeous thing, show me more, haha.

Jewell, Tim, thanks for your suggestions and support,,,been a while since i had garden space, am like a kid in a candy store,,,,mix a little vision, practical application, and nature's inclination, something cool's bound to happen, even if it's riddled with boo-boos.

Judith, thank you for the link to the other discussion. As I explore this yard, I am finding some kind of fruit tree volunteers, so that will be interesting reading for sure. Your creation sounds divine...and raspberries with chocolate mint...be still my heart! Since I've basically been gifted or rescued this set of stuff at once, I'm feeling they are saying some kind of proximity, please ( I'm a little weird that way ). Maybe as we radiate out from the stump out the raspies will be happy on a fringe of the ring, lol. Gotta luv that furred and feathered labour, today i had to ask the squirells, hey darlins, are you planting those nuts for me or thee

David, that is a mighty fine cabbage, indeed, thanks for the pic. How about stump spuds, radishes, carrots oh my!

Am off to water my baby, dream and dig a bit more ... oooo and snag a christmas tree that obviously missed last year's chipping service. THanks again for the welcome, inspiration and suggestions.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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