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Tabatha Mic
Posts: 26
Location: North Central Mississippi
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I need babysteps! I might take 3 or 4 at a time, but I gotta go slow & easy or I'll never get it done!

So, background...
In zone 7b, North Central Mississippi.
I'm on 2.? acres of land, just inside the city limits, with access to another couple of acres at my folks (all on one lot)
Heavy, soggy, gray, wet clay soil. I'm slowly improving different spots with spoiled hay, poop from my rabbits, goats & chickens, leaves and anything else carbon based I can lay my hands on.
No fruit trees yet, mostly swamp maple, sweet gum & oak trees, with a few pines and muscadines for variety.
I do have a huge section of wild blackberries along my fenceline, lots of yellow dock, purslane and chickweed.
Picking up 3 black rainwater tanks in the next few weeks to collect water from my roof, and the roof of the goat shed.
Building a 5x15, 3 section compost bin out of salvaged pallets and finishing the sawdust toilet.
Picking out some fruit trees this weekend, hopefully can set them out the same day, as long as it isn't still real soggy.
Trying to figure out where would be the best place for my asparagus, which will (WILL DANGIT) be planted this year.

Helps!
 
Gary Park
Posts: 146
Location: St. Louis, MO
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I planted my asparagus in some soil that is not great, but I dug holes about 1-cubic foot and filled with a 50/50 mix of bagged topsoil and leaves/grass clippings.  They flourished their first year, turning into large ferns.  I'm expecting some harvest this spring, and I plan to keep adding grasss/leaves a few times a year to amend the soil.  If the soil is always soggy, maybe creating some swales or berms to plant on the peaks would work for you?  Especially fruit trees.  There's not a whole lot that likes soggy all the time.  Can you post pics of your compost bin setup?  Sounds interesting.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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So much you can do with damp ground! 

Here's a video about gardening in a wet climate:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugFd1JdFaE0

Consider digging a pond or marsh garden, where you can grow a lot of interesting and edible plants:  http://www.pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=79
 
Tabatha Mic
Posts: 26
Location: North Central Mississippi
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Sure thing, definately when we finish. I might try to take a few of the process, but my hands are usually IN the project soooo... The pallets I'm getting are huge, thick and thankfully, not treated. They are 5' long, with three planks per pallet, plus the 4x4 braces. I think they hauled metal parts on them.

It's very similar to this:

After reading a bit more on here, I think a hugelkulture would probably help a great deal in my garden areas. Raise the beds up out of the soggy mess, but hold enough moisture so our hot & dry MS summers don't cause as much problem... I've seen them before, but have yet to do anything like it. Ya know... there's a big pile of brush over across the highway from me, its a thought!

That sounds like a plan on the swales for the fruit trees. Would I need to build something around it, like a rock or wooden wall? Or just pile the dirt up, wide & high?
Would a hugelkulture be good for that?
 
Tabatha Mic
Posts: 26
Location: North Central Mississippi
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Ooooo, thanks for the links Ludi!
*scurries off to read*
 
Gary Park
Posts: 146
Location: St. Louis, MO
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The designs I've seen using the swale idea did not have any retaining walls, just a nice swooping pattern down the hillside(or in your case, level?).  The fruit trees were planted at the peaks, with some other plants planted 1/2 way down the side, and still others where the water pools shortly before being absorbed into the swale berm.
 
Tabatha Mic
Posts: 26
Location: North Central Mississippi
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After reading a bit more, I don't think I could use a swale, per se... Maybe just a raised area for each of the trees and a longish one for the asparagus, if that's what you meant?
I'm on flat as a pancake land. Well, except for a very slight dip in the center (right where the mobile home is now, thanks movers) where the water tends to collect.
We dug a trench that helped out a lot last year, but I'm thinking its time to re-dig it.

I'm all excited about the hugelkulture tho, I really think my veggie garden areas would benefit from it. It will be too late for this year, but this fall I could drag off my good soil, pile up the sticks & stuff, then put my good soil back on top. Hmmmm

If I hadn't already been improving the soil for a 1-1/2 years, I'd probably try to just dig a stinking pond 

 
ronie dee
Posts: 619
Location: NW MO
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To figure out where the water is coming from (Uphill) then figure out how to get the water to bypass or move around your garden spots - then go on downhill, I would ask everyone  that i could ask.. anyone that stops by or anyone you can drag there. Someone may say something that clicks and makes sense. Trying to advise you without seeing the place and studying what is going on, is beyond me.

Also that compost system you pictured, is a lot like the one i saw in David Jenkins videos. I believe that Jenkins has a lot of good ideas, but i think the active compost pile needs to be covered. Covering the straw is OK, but straw will last a very long time without covering.. The active compost pile needs covering to slow evaporation and keep nutrients and bacteria from escaping (a tarp could be used).

Clay soil needs humus and sand to make good soil. So you might look into using the sand with the sawdust and/or just getting sand to the soil some way.
 
Tabatha Mic
Posts: 26
Location: North Central Mississippi
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No, sand is a no no with this stuff. I tried that one year and got concrete
I did mix in a bunch of aged compost and old potting soil and it still packed down with the next rain. Once the summer dry hit, it really was like concrete.
Just compost itself seems to be the best thing for this soil.
This is my 3rd year of gardening on this spot, so I've made some progress and learned a lot of what NOT to do 

Consider that I am in a slight bowl, otherwise its flat as can be. I could get someone to do dirt work buuuuut... All the water is rainwater, it just can't GO anywhere
The raised beds I had in the backyard worked well, I'm slowly moving the dirt in them to the front to raise up the garden areas. Hence my excitement over the hugelkulture.

I can get this drainage system at work (I work at a handyman's dream warehouse), its designed for draining areas, sorta like a french drain, only with pipe instead of tiles. I do have a ditch I could run it to, that may be an option. I've considered making that ditch into a cattail area before.
And yep, that's Jenkin's compost bin I will have wire over the compost, wouldn't be hard to cover with a tarp or plastic. Come to think about it, my current freestanding pile does better when its covered.
 
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