sarah preisner

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since Feb 24, 2015
Zone 5B
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Recent posts by sarah preisner

I have sow thistle growing like crazy through one of my fruit tree guilds that I was hoping to revamp this year. I started to try to dig them up this morning and spent about an hour on one little patch, attempting to follow the roots FEET in each direction. My soil is really bad clay so digging the stuff up is nearly impossible, and the roots just keep breaking (from what I understand this just creates more plants and a bigger problem).
My question is what is my best method of attack? Keep trying to dig them out? Cardboard with lots of mulch? Pick the leaves as often as possible to try to exhaust the plant? Plant something else to try and out compete it?
I've included pictures for reference and in case I have not identified it correctly as sow thistle.
Thanks!
4 years ago
I'm looking for recommendations for a cover crop for my vegetable garden (apx 1000 sqft). I'm in zone 5 and have never used a cover crop so I'm not sure where to even start! Here are some considerations:
-has to be an annual
-would like to plant the cover crop after double digging and amending soil in the beds this spring (I plan on doing the double dig one time and strictly mulching after)
-it needs to be easily chopped down so I can plant in the beds later this spring and summer. I'm thinking of just clearing where I plant though and leaving the cover crop between the plants (does this seem like the best idea?)
-I'm hoping to get a load of wood chips later in the summer/early fall to do a more permanent mulch, so I'd like the cover crop to be high in nitrogen to help off set any nitrogen the wood chips will take.

With these considerations, what recommendations for types of cover crop do you all have?
Thanks!




5 years ago
Amazing photos! So inspiring! My goal this year is to work on improving my native cost soil (backwards I know, but I'm learning more and more every year and initially skipped over this just not realizing how poor my soil really was). Here's a view of my suburbia lot from my upstairs window.
5 years ago
art
Ok, I've been searching and searching but cannot seem to find a local source for expanded shale in large quantities. Suggestions on sources? Other materials that might work? Gravel or crushed concrete? Would fill sand equal coarse sand? What about lava rock?
5 years ago
Thank you all for your suggestions! Sounds like I should be focusing on building some swales in areas that collect water the most, would filling them with gravel and woodchips be the best approach, maybe even some broken pots or other inorganic material? My thought with the garden beds was to double dig them and amend the soil and then top dress them with some fresh compost. I had recently heard about the expanded shale, and to hear that suggestion from someone else is encouraging! I think I will go that route and add it to the soil with all of my new plantings as well.

My question then is regarding my existing trees and shrubs. Should I attempt to dig them up as best as possible and add inorganic material to the soil and raise them up above the soil by a few inches? Followed by adding mulch around them? They are very small so I'm not too concerned about damaging them. Should I also add any fertilizer to the soil as I add the expanded shale or other inorganic material to make up for the lack of nutrients in the soil? The soil results suggested adding a 12-12-12 fertilizer, and as I'm not familiar with fertilizer at all I have no idea where to start, any good organic brands? Do I top dress or add it directly to the planting hole?

Thank you again for all of the suggestions, I am learning more and more every day!
5 years ago
Hi all,
I am new to this forum and am approaching my second year in implementing permaculture techniques in my garden. A little background first. I live in a typical suburb neighborhood in zone 5 (michigan), and have pretty much solid clay soil. I also sit at the bottom of sloped yards, so my yard gets all of my neighbors rainwater (great unless it is extremely slow to drain like mine). I wanted to only do a no til approach to my garden as I knew the existing soil was not good enough to plant in. So I laid cardboard down and put organic matter (including leaves, compost, horse manure, straw, and top soil) in place for my garden beds, and wood chips down for pathways. My garden area seems to suffer, I am thinking the beds are not deep enough? I have really struggled with my fruit trees and bushes. I have apple trees, pear trees, peach trees, cherry trees, blueberries, raspberries, grapes and black berries planted. All fruit plants were planted within the last couple of years. When planting I mixed in some compost with my soil, but that was it. I've noticed a lot of the leaves turn a somewhat red color throughout the entire growing season (low oxygen?), and have not been able to get raspberries established for the life of me. I concluded that I needed to get my soil tested, so last fall I finally did.

Here is what resulted:
"Soil is hard and clumpy - needs conditioning - slow to drain. PH 6.6, Hummus 1 (very low), N 60#/A (low-mod), P 75#/A (low-mod), K 140#/A (low)"

They provided some recommendations on what to do to amend the soil, and I have some ideas, but am curious any one else's experience/recommendations. Help please!
Thank you!

Here is an aerial photo of my garden space for reference.
5 years ago