Tyler Ludens wrote:I agree with your idea of planting a living mulch - you might want to look into natives if you haven't already, especially native legumes and plants for pollinators. Not exclusively natives, though, just natives in the mix. I wouldn't bother about rocks if you don't have them on site, too expensive to buy and too much trouble to haul if free. If you have to haul something, haul feed for your critters, not a bunch of stupid rocks!
Native seeds and plants: https://www.prairiemoon.com/
I'm always interested in your projects because of the challenging conditions there at your place!
Ben Zukisian wrote:I have had some success increasing water retention and soil accumulation around blueberries and fruit trees with rings of woody debris of varied sizes that you could use as the foundation of the edge of your crater with soil over the top. It is a bit like hugelculture but for below/ground-level plantings. This will hold water from heavy rains for awhile, even absorbing condensation on dewy nights. It also decomposes into soil very efficiently and adds fungal inoculation (which builds up on every year of wood growth). I use hard to work with/rotten pine/spruce mostly as this is whats available to me locally. This is ideal for blueberries which grow in this type of environment naturally, but as long as it is not a alkaline dependent plant the wood will not excessively acidify the soil as much as people assume it will because the fungus from the wood will get naturally selected for the tree's ideal ph modification by the plant trading sugars for water and nutrients. Wood also acts as a heat sink and produces heat to start growth in the spring earlier..
Steve Farmer wrote:I used to "dig" (actually with a hammer drill as I am planting trees in solid rock) my craters then plant immediately. Now I dig the crater a little bigger than the rootball as before, then drill several holes down with a metre long masonry drill. Then I fill the hole with water at least once a week for a few weeks before planting. Each crater is found to contain rabbit droppings after the first watering, and further waterings wash these in, along with dust, leaves and whatever else has blown in. The trees that end up in the hole seem happy enough.