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my personal quest for super soil

 
gardener
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So I just read Redhawk's the quest for super soil post in the thread he started and it sparked a fire under me to share my experience thus far in soil building & remineralizing and include some pictures, which I have been meaning to do but dragging my feet and been busy with life. I wanted to start a new thread instead of include this in his thread as I do not want to distract from what he's sharing. I really admire and respect Redhawk and what he has shared with us, and I've learned a lot from his posts. I had read in books about having healthy plants that don't exhibit disease symptoms and aren't bothered by pests and I all but didn't believe it possible. I was of the notion that bad bugs fly around everywhere and come to feed on and lay eggs in gardens and that's just what they do, and that diseases are everywhere and having to spray to treat disease was just a part of gardening. I kept reading over and over in different books this repeating conclusion that if soils are healthy, balanced, full of minerals and teeming with microbial and fungal life, that the plants grown in them will be so healthy that they can defend themselves and be unfazed by diseases, and parasitic pests that come to eat my crops won't bother with them. The science behind it started to make sense, so I started to build my soils with compost and leaf mold, I took steps to remineralize my soil, and I did the important and so simple step of mulching my raised beds. Soil life needs the same things we as people need to live: food, water, shelter and air.

This year (2017) is the best garden year I've had so far. While I still have work to do with my soils, I am experiencing in my garden what I had only read about. I have plants that aren't infested with pests or sick with disease. Do I have pests? Yes, a few here, a few there in most cases. My kale this year did not do well, it was covered in worms feasting on them. My tomatoes are exhibiting some disease symptoms. My musk melons are growing at glacial speeds. What has done remarkably well are some of my squash, potatoes, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, and strawberries. Beans are doing very well also. I did and still do a daily check for squash bugs, and on average I find two clusters of eggs and just roll them off and squish them. Interestingly, I've only found a total of 6 squash bug egg clusters on my yellow squash and zucchini combined since the beginning of the season but I find an egg cluster or two daily on my spaghetti squash. My beans look great so far, last year I had major mexican bean beetle problems, this year I've seen two adults (there's likely more that I don't see) but the bean leaves look fantastic, not riddled with holes and I don't see any orange bean beetle larvae having a field day. I've never had potatoes look this good. I grew my first ever cabbage this spring that didn't have any holes either in the head itself or in the giant broad leaves. The spinach and lettuce looked like something out of a gardening magazine.

I'm not trying to boast here, I just want to share with others, especially those new to gardening, that this is possible. I used to use OMRI listed controls to spray my veggies that had problems. This year I haven't used any. The only pest control I've used is my fingers. I told a few folks last year I was planting strawberries, and they hemmed and hawed about the problems I would face and the bugs would eat holes in all my berries. That has not been my experience at all. I'm harvesting pristine strawberries that don't have any holes in them and haven't sprayed anything. The soil biology and chemistry that I've read about from Redhawk and various books is proving to be true. I'm making it happen in my little garden. Focus on the soil, nurture it and everything else seems to fall into harmony.

Here are some pictures I just took.





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James Freyr
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more pics.
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pollinator
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I like that line, like something out of a gardening magazine. Several of your photos qualify.

I have known people who put hours and hours into diagnosing and treating pest issues.

Just imagine if they put all of that time into improving their soil. They'd have so much spare time, they could create habitat for the snakes, lizards and frogs. Then they could make a spot for the swallows and bats to live.

I like the idea of planting lots of different things. And then no matter what the weather does, or the bugs do, some things will find suitable conditions and give you a good crop. That's one of the benefits of intercropping. When something dies or is eaten, you're not left with a gaping hole. The crop that thrives can move into that space.
 
gardener
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Outstanding James, I would like to applaud you on your efforts and sharing the outcome.

Redhawk
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Just imagine if they put all of that time into improving their soil. They'd have so much spare time, they could create habitat for the snakes, lizards and frogs. Then they could make a spot for the swallows and bats to live.



First, GREAT stuff James, you're officially venturing into the world of permaculture. =)
Dale is very correct in asserting that instead of trying to FIGHT something, working against, work to create what you DO WANT. And good soil is definitely what we want!
When land is cleared, there is nothing left to protect the topsoil which erodes away, or is baked into the atmosphere by the sun. Land is naturally full of life and abundant in a wide variety of nutrients, the goal is to simulate and accelerate the process of building these things back up. A growing number of folks use the "Back to Eden" method of gardening in a deep, broken down, mulch layer. Others meticulously layer "brown" and "green" matter, while some develop forest or semi-forested ecosystems for their own use.
All of these things work, and they all work better together in my opinion.
Seriously, that garden looks IMMACULATE. It obviously appreciates the care you've put into learning and applying it all. Other than that layer of mulch, what have you done to build topsoil?
 
James Freyr
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Hey thanks Redhawk! The soil is certainly improving and I'm seeing results in tasty veggies and happy plants with less disease pressure and pest problems. I still have some work to do but it's satisfying to see some results. I still have a few problems, but much less than last year.

Wyatt- I garden in raised beds and haven't necessarily done anything to build my topsoil. I have very clayey soil that drains poorly and on top of that I live in an area with a high water table and ponding water is common after rain. 8 years ago when I moved in my wife and I tried a garden in the ground with dismal results. Back then I didn't know anything about soils and soil building techniques. So I built raised beds and filled them with a soil blend from a local nursery. It was a mix of topsoil, compost, sand, and wood chips. I did have the wherewithal to amend each year with whatever organic matter I could get my hands on. One year it was earthworm castings. Another year it was leaf mold. All those amendments are good and well, but I still hadn't learned the science of chemistry and biology behind soil, soil life, the soil food web and how everything is connected. In two short years I've had big improvements with few simple changes, like abandoning certain practices. I quit turning in soil amendments with a shovel like the leaf mold mentioned above, I just placed it on top and let it be. I quit pulling dead plants at the end of the season, and just cut the stalk at or just below the soil surface, leaving all the roots in place undisturbed to decay. Those two simple things, along with the straw mulch on top, and suddenly the earthworms appeared so no more buying earthworm castings.

As far as adding minerals, I focused on trace minerals. Last fall when I was amending beds and covering them with straw I added some granular kelp which I had bought as a supplement for my chickens. Early this spring I sprinkled on some azomite, and later on I chose to add some sea-90. I applied the sea-90 at half the recommended rate, as it looked like a lot and I thought to myself that I can always add more later. The kelp had all winter to break down and the sea minerals dissolved readily in the next rain so I believe some improvement I'm seeing is from those. Azomite is a mineral ore and takes a while to break down, so I believe it will gradually have an effect over the course of twelve months, maybe more. I did also add a small amount of calcitic lime, like a handful, to maintain the pH where it needs to be, as pH's can gradually decline over time from rain and the act of mineral/hydrogen exchange by plant roots.
 
James Freyr
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The weather has been fair and there was a break in the rain this morning, and I’ve been meaning to add compost to my raised beds while they’re empty. There’s no better day than today, right? So my compost has been a long time coming and I’ve included some pictures below to show what I’ve done and how I’m using it. I figured what I’m doing certainly pertains to my never-ending quest for super soil and I thought I’d resurrect this thread and add a little update.

So it’s feels like spring, it’s been in the 60’s and even 70’s for several days, but is still very much winter according to the calendar. Today is February 22nd. The last few years I’ve been sowing seeds in my garden in march and planting my indoor started plants in late march, so I need to get busy getting the garden ready. Spring seems to come earlier now than it did twenty years ago. Our almanac last frost date for my area is April 15th, but the last frost date has been coming in March for a number of years now.

To get ready for the new growing season, yesterday morning I sprinkled Sea-90 on all my beds, and we got an inch and a half of rain yesterday and overnight. All the sea-90 has been dissolved as I couldn’t see any little white particles today. With the break in the rain this morning, I headed to the compost pile and figured I’d add a 5 gallon bucket of finished compost to each bed. You’ll see in the pictures my compost bin setup with my supervisor overseeing my work this morning. I use pallets stood up on end and screwed together, as they were free and took about a half hour to put together. So the bin on the right is where I started in about January/February of 2016, dumping chicken coop bedding, food scraps, autumn lawn mower clippings full of chopped leaves and grass (when I happened to get around to raking) and garden debris. That pile grew and shrank as I added to it over the course of that year and then I stopped adding to the right side in November of 2016, and proceeded to start filling up the left side. I utilized the dreaded big blue tarps to cover the piles occasionally during excessive rainy periods. I also left the right side essentially covered for a good portion of 2017 and even so far this year, but I would pull the tarp away and fluff the aging compost about once a month, just to keep oxygen in there. This pile shrunk at glacial speeds from what it was to what it is today. Today it looks dark, has a crumbly texture, and smells really good and earthy. This is what I’ve been waiting so long to achieve - a finished compost, with hardly any identifiable pieces of what was originally put in there. I’ve read this can be achieved faster, but I’m a sort of lazy composter, with compost being on the back burner so-to-say, just letting it go at it’s own pace in the background. The pile on the right looked like the pile on the left in November of 2016, and now I’ll spread it in the garden, and stop adding to the pile on the left, start a new pile on the right, and leave the pile on the left untouched to slowly finish at natures pace for a year (though I’m moving this fall so it will be the next guy’s small pile of gold).

The picture with the fork in the compost tries to show something that I was not expecting. I have terrible, dense, hard clay soil here. Even with all the soaking rain we’ve been getting it's still very firm and I can not push that fork into the soil out in the yard. Beneath the finished compost, that terrible soil turned into something completely different. It’s soft, somewhat crumbly, even after all this rain, and I was able to easily with minimal effort push my fork into the earth. The tines are in the native soil about 4 inches deep. This was a surprise for me this morning. It’s a great example of how adding organic matter, not even working it into the soil but merely having it on the surface, will with time, improve the soil beneath, just like how adding wood chips on top of soil will, again with time, improve the soil beneath.

The picture of my raised bed is how I’m applying my compost. In fall of 2016 I mulched my raised beds with straw and I sowed and planted in that straw spring of 2017 (as seen in the pictures above). Today I’m sprinkling a 5 gallon bucket of finished compost right on top of the straw (which is really beginning to break down now), and over the course of this coming week, I will cover this straw and compost sprinkling with wood chips from the giant pile that I got the other day by virtue of the tree trimming guys happening to be working down the road and stopping to ask them if I could have the wood chips when they finished for the day. They were more than happy to give them to me so they didn’t have to pay to dump them, and I was more than delighted to get 30+ yards of wood chips that the guys said was mostly red & white oak with a little sweetgum and a bit of hackberry and pine.
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Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Woo Hoo ! look at that awesome soil your building kola.
simply outstanding proof that microbes work the wonders we see in nature.
I am so very happy for you James, your veggies will only get better and better for you and your family.

Redhawk
 
James Freyr
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Thank you Redhawk! Your kind words mean a lot! and a lot of what I'm doing is taken from what I've learned from your writings in your awesome threads here on Permies.
 
gardener
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That's great looking compost & soil from this TN clay. Should be able to produce a lot of food in the gardens. TN Valencia peanuts will grow in the clay & help improve the soil. It appears the weeds are under control on that part of the pavement too. Good job.
 
pollinator
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Awesome James!   Thanks for taking the time to document your progress.   Now I'm full of envy and admiration and heading right over to Amazon to buy Sea90 which Bryant had recommended but I procrastinated :)
 
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Wow those are some amazing strawberries and the leaves look huge!. I too am working on the soil and adding minerals. This coming year will be the first year with adding minerals according to soil test. Last year I had major issues with root knot nematodes. They were probably in just a couple of beds years ago but over time, not knowing what was wrong with the plants, I spread them around through the compost. Really hoping that minerals and mycorrhiza help!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Mary, yes indeed the mycorrhizae along with other mycelium will take a big bite out of destructive nematodes, the minerals will help both your plants and your fungi and bacteria.
 
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On Sea-90, check with your local (not chain) feed and seed. They may be able to get it without delivery fees. There is an animal feed version and a soil amendment version. They seem like the same thing with slightly different granule sizes.

The big win is when you have animals doing your spreading for you! Thats another big advantage from browsers.
 
James Freyr
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Chapter 2

I want to mark this post as a new beginning. All my posts above and those raised beds are from my old garden. That house is on the market and my wife and I are moving to our new farm here in a few weeks. Someone else will inherit my former soil building efforts.

My new farm. I'm trying to get a little cabin ready to move into and also get an area ready for our new garden, and try to get some more soil improvements done. I've attached below the results of the soil analysis I had done back when we closed on the land purchase. In about november of 2017 we had the entire farm limed. The pH average of the soil was 5.3ish. In the spring of 2018 before I got busy building a cabin, my wife and I chose our garden area and I broadcast some Sea-90 and gypsum with a push style spreader.

Here's my approach. I believe in chemistry and biology, but I don't want the word chemistry to be misleading here. I am not about to go applying ammonium nitrate or di-ammonium phosphate or any chemical fertilizer commonly used in conventional agriculture. What I mean by chemistry is elements in the soil, the anions and cations. I had a soil analysis done, and I am targeting the addition of three select micronutrients: copper, zinc and boron. I want to give the soil a minor boost with these which I purchased from the co-op. I don't need much of each of these, just a few ppm. I need to be very careful with the copper sulfate, as copper can be an anti fungal and anti microbial in high enough concentrations. The last thing I want to do is kill any soil biota, after all I'm trying to nurture my soil, so the copper sulfate will be applied several times in very weak solutions. When I make soil additions using things like this copper sulfate, zinc sulfate, and boron I like to apply them right before it rains. Since I mix them in a pump sprayer, and I'm applying 2 gallons volume of mixed solution over almost a quarter acre, I essentially have droplets landing on all the dormant grasses, forbs, and mowing clippings so I need the rain to further dilute my applications and also wash these solutions into the soil. Aside from these three select micronutrients, I am also using two other sources for more micronutrients: Sea-90 and kelp. I think my soil could also use some phosphorus, and I will be getting this from rock phosphate. I hope to go get some Tennessee brown rock phosphate later this spring and apply it with a push spreader.

The biology part: Without the soil biota, the bacteria and fungi to mention the two big players, the chemistry is nothing. My main focus is building soil life, the chemistry is just a side act. I had my farm mowed twice in 2018, once in June and again in October after the first frost, so a lot of organic matter was cut and left in place via my neighbor who I hired to mow with his tractor pulling a 20ft cut bat wing bush hog. Before he mowed, he asked me if I was interested in him cutting hay, and I politely declined and I told him I'm interested in building organic matter and having all the grass and weeds cut and left in place. He commented to me how he thought the liming I had done must have helped since he thought the pastures were thick. It was an observation from a lifelong farmer that I noted. That was last year, and just last week, I started my first biodynamic preparation, a-la Redhawk style, found here: https://permies.com/t/75940/Redhawk-methods-making-biodynamic-preparations#628039 I am making horn manure, but I don't have cow horns or ground quartz crystals handy, but I do have mason jars and diatomaceous earth to supply the silica in lieu of quartz. I believe in the biology of biodynamics, I'm unsure about Steiner's (the guy who invented biodynamics) claims of the preparations harnessing cosmic energies from the universe. If they do great, if they don't great, I'm in it for the biology. I want to grow microbes and fungus. I went to my neighbor back home who is a grazier, and has a small herd of pastured cows. I scooped up and filled four quart mason jars with fresh cow poop while mixing in some diatomaceous earth. I then took these jars to my new farm, and armed with my small spade I inoculated each jar with soil from four different areas. Three were from the woods, and one of those three was inoculated with soil from beneath my mightiest old oak tree. I measured it, and the tree is 40 inches diameter breast height. The last jar I inoculated is from an area where my neighbor (the same one who mowed) had a hay ring where he fed his herd of cows for many years each winter. The soil in this spot is dark, soft, smells good, and I can easily push my little spade shovel into the soil 5 inches with little effort. Why scoop soil and inoculate from 4 different areas? Because I want biodiversity. I want to encourage and grow as many different kinds of good bacteria and fungi as I can. With some time, the native microbial and fungal life will essentially compost the cow manure in the jars. I can then mix some manure with water, and apply it to my garden. While I don't have a compost pile started at the new farm yet, I do at the old house, and I'm bringing a bucket or two of finished compost to make some compost teas to apply to my garden area as well.

It's february of 2019 as of this writing, and earlier in the week I mixed a very mild solution of copper sulfate, and also one of zinc sulfate and applied it to the garden area with a pump sprayer. I hope to get some boron applied this week. I'll make a few more additions, and hopefully some brown rock phosphate is in the budget and I can get that spread along with a bag of kelp. I will retest my soil and share the results later this year.


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Tj Jefferson
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James, this is a great summary of your project! I think it is valuable how you laid out your starting point, then initial goals, leading to proposed interventions. The interventions include the mowing/nonhaying I would say.

I am reading with interest, we didn't move, but are converting several acres to silvopasture and have remarkably similar soils (with the exception that it looks like you limed a huge amount, I would be interested what that costs per ton out there).

I do the same with electrolyte application, although since I don't have access to a large sprayer, I have been going out when it is windy and throwing the dust allowing wind dispersal (same minerals zinc and copper sulfate and borax). I am trying to get the levels up over 3-4 years with 3-4 applications per year, preferably just before or during active growth- so avoid middle of winter or middle of summer. I also decided to apply some phosphates, apparently it can be done without destroying fungal growth provided it is a slow increase (I think that was from Dr Redhawk). Running the chickens in their paddocks across it also aids in both nitrogen and phosphate improvement, but both of those are imported from outside in the form of chicken feed, so I am stealing them from someone else's soil. The chickens also have a DE bath in their paddock, so that is my application of silicates. I probably get 2-3 lbs per 1000SF that way, since they are so messy.

Adding animals I think will be a big assist, but the infrastructure and systems are critical. The pH should come up as the aluminum gets more organics to buffer it, but functionally at the roots Dr Redhawk's writings are pretty convincing to me that if stuff grows well, it shows the soil is alive and robust where it matters.
 
James Freyr
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Hey thanks TJ! The liming was a little over $1700 for 68 tons spread over about 34 acres. It worked about to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 a ton.

My garden area is my current primary focus. I have desires to remineralize the 34 acres of pasture, but like a lot things it's just time and money. I want to broadcast brown rock phosphate over the pastures, along with Sea-90 one and some kelp. I'm fortunate to live in the same state as where the brown rock phosphate is sourced, and it's a three hour drive away. It costs more than limestone lime, but if I recall correctly it's in the neighborhood of $80 a ton. I figured I can hire my neighbor (same mowing guy) who owns a dump truck, to bring 18 tons, which is the trucks capacity, and have him spread that over the pastures at about a half ton an acre. I want to start there, maybe it will need a second application. I'd also hire him to broadcast the Sea-90 as well. I really want to start growing some nutrient dense grass and forbs prior to bringing cows onto the farm. We can't afford cows now anyway, and I really believe that soil is the most important part of any farm. If feel like if I can hunker down and find a way to pay for these expenses on the front end over the next two to three years, that it will pay dividends in the future and be well worth the investment now.

One challenge I currently have with my soil is the low cation exchange capacity. I know that number isn't static, and I can increase it by building soil humus. My approach for this in the meantime is to keep mowing twice a year and leaving all the biomass in place and with a little help from my fungal friends I think I can start building soil humus. I know that things will really start to improve once I do bring cows onto the farm and begin rotational grazing, with the chickens following behind them every day or two or three, however often the cows get moved to a new paddock.
 
Tj Jefferson
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The liming was a little over $1700 for 68 tons spread over about 34 acres. It worked about to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 a ton.



Lucky! We pay well over $100/ton. There aren't any truly local sources I have found just due to geology. Same with the phosphate.

You are smart to think about the orderly introduction of livestock, nothing is more expensive than livestock with problems!

One little tip I will give you to get your organic matter up fast- I spread partially decayed woodchips with a manure spreader during the wet and hot part of the year. They decay very quickly and have made a big difference. I found out I can put down about 10 yards per acre three times a year and the soil just eats them. It has meant an increase in clovers and a decrease in grass, but I think the overall incorporation of biomass is huge. I spread lime or rock dust by putting it on top of the mulch so it doesnt gum up the spreader. If you can get lots of chips, it could pay off.
 
James Freyr
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Tj Jefferson wrote:

One little tip I will give you to get your organic matter up fast- I spread partially decayed woodchips with a manure spreader during the wet and hot part of the year. They decay very quickly and have made a big difference. I found out I can put down about 10 yards per acre three times a year and the soil just eats them. It has meant an increase in clovers and a decrease in grass, but I think the overall incorporation of biomass is huge. I spread lime or rock dust by putting it on top of the mulch so it doesnt gum up the spreader. If you can get lots of chips, it could pay off.



Yes, I totally want wood chips. My new farm is very rural, and there really aren't chipper trucks in the neighborhood pruning trees by the roads once or twice a year like I've seen back home and inside Nashville city limits. I'm still on the hunt for free wood chips from a source such as the power company, but again, it's proving challenging. I one day want to buy an old used chipper, a big one like the utility companies tow behind those covered trucks, the kind I can feed a four inch limb into and it'll gobble it up with no problem, so I can make my own chips whenever I choose from trees I have growing on the farm. But that's a ways off into the future. One alternative I have found, is a mulch company, and they have oak wood chips and will deliver them, but again it costs money. The nice thing is I know exactly what I'm getting, 100% hardwood oak. There is not a question of what sort of wood is in it, though that's never really been terribly important to me. Like everything else, it costs money. They'll deliver 25yds for about $700. Or, I can go big and get an 18-wheeler load, 90yds, for $1700 delivered. I still prefer free if I can find it, or look more closely at a used chipper, and apply that $1700 towards one and start making my own chips sooner than later.
 
Tj Jefferson
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James, not to turn this into a mulch conversation, but it you have scale like it sound you do, they will be interested. One of my suppliers drives an hour to get here (which makes me sad). This is a power company truck. Unfortunately their tipping fee is $80, and they pay three guys x$10/hr and expense the fuel against their taxes, so they make $20 a load. If you can accept a big truck, you have marketability. Are there sawmills in your area? They always have a big pile of scraps and chippy bits. I could get hundreds of yards, they are looking for a place to get rid of the piles. It takes longer, but I believe in Travis' rule of 2s- 2 inches diameter within two feet of the ground will degrade in 2 years. In your area there may be someone looking to offload moldy hay in round bales that got screwed up. That would be wonderful stuff. Those were my backup plans before I got into the chips big time.

This isn't a competition and I want to emphasize that. But it could be.... Hehehe The Carbon Games, new this summer. Plus I got a line on 100 tons (!) of pond settlings from a quarry, free. I will have to split the delivery but they want to get rid of it and I want it. BOOM! Economic love story. My next goal is to get people to put my fencing in for free. Any ideas? Travis suggested grants because I am doing silvopasture from USDA or NSCS but the process is geared toward the big boys that don't need the grants but are happy to take free money. I don't have time for that, or knowledge.

I'm interested in your preparations. Its on my list of things I might try, but its behind making hundreds of gallons of compost tea this summer, and I can only make 12 gallons at a time. So thats going to take me a while.
 
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My parents lived in town when I was growing up, and waited until the kids moved out to move to the country. That was unfortunate timing on their part from my perspective, as of their kids I was the one who longed for the rural life and who chafed at city life. But I did learn how to build soil fast, from watching what my dad did, and helping when I would visit.

They moved 25 miles from town. But in the autumn my dad would hook up the trailer to the truck and drive to the city. He would make the rounds of neighborhoods with lots of big old trees and collect bagged leaves. He checked for the collection schedule first and also cleared it with authorities so he wouldn't get in trouble for "stealing" leaves.

He collected vast, vast quantities of leaves. He ran them through a large chipper shredder, moistened them, and let them compost over winter. He did not try to balance green and brown. He had tons of leaves so just shredded, wetted and let rot. He then spread it liberally on their very poor sandy soil and within a few years he had some of the finest, most productive soil I have ever seen.

This was not exactly free, as there was gas involved to drive to the city and collect them and in shredding the resulting haul. And, there was an investment in the shredder. But it was cheaper than many inputs, nonetheless.
 
James Freyr
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Tj- Thanks for broadening my views. I need to do a little research on who's running chipper trucks and make some cold calls or send some emails, maybe one will bite if I offer a place for them to dump wood chips for free. I have an acre or two I could let them dump to their hearts delight.

Myrth- I love leaf mold! I think it is a most excellent amendment to use in a garden. My farm has approximately 24 acres of woods, and it's in a couple large-is chunks of 6-8 acres, with a bunch of small clusters of trees scattered about in the pastures, so there are a lot of leaves produced each autumn that fall into easily accessible pasture areas. My challenge is raking or somehow gathering the leaves among tall thigh-high grasses and other plants. I think my best approach is to collect some biomass from a fall mowing and build some piles of leaves & clippings to compost.
 
Myrth Gardener
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James Freyr wrote:Tj- Thanks for broadening my views. I need to do a little research on who's running chipper trucks and make some cold calls or send some emails, maybe one will bite if I offer a place for them to dump wood chips for free. I have an acre or two I could let them dump to their hearts delight.

Myrth- I love leaf mold! I think it is a most excellent amendment to use in a garden. My farm has approximately 24 acres of woods, and it's in a couple large-is chunks of 6-8 acres, with a bunch of small clusters of trees scattered about in the pastures, so there are a lot of leaves produced each autumn that fall into easily accessible pasture areas. My challenge is raking or somehow gathering the leaves among tall thigh-high grasses and other plants. I think my best approach is to collect some biomass from a fall mowing and build some piles of leaves & clippings to compost.



That’s why my dad drove to the city - let other people rake up and collect the leaves - it was less labor intensive. They had woods also. But how could they collect the leaves in sufficient quantity to amend several acres of poor sand? It was easier to haul in free leaves than it was to harvest leaves from the woods. Forest raking is a notion of more recent origin. 😸😹
 
I didn't like the taste of tongue and it didn't like the taste of me. I will now try this tiny ad:
Native Bee Guide by Crown Bees
https://permies.com/wiki/105944/Native-Bee-Guide-Crown-Bees
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