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Kelley Burnham

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since Oct 03, 2015
Concord, CA
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Recent posts by Kelley Burnham

I suspect they may have evolved from Bountiful Gardens, also from Willits and no longer in business. I loved Bountiful Gardens, bought from them regularly. They were affiliated with John Jeavons a while back. Good work being done there.
I had no idea a spade could speak so eloquently

This guy may not know he's a permie...yet.

2 years ago
Thanks everyone for your replies. I will post pics in the next couple of days, and try to do a pH test.

Kyle, I have lavender planted, and it's just as stunted as the crops/annuals. If only the crops/annuals were affected I'd assume something, likely the redwood, is hogging nutrients and water, but lavender likes lean dry soil, so I that tells me there's more to it than that.

I have quite a love/hate relationship with the redwoods. The genius who planted them 30 or 40 years ago thought nothing of what was to come. They perpetually clog the roof gutters with their relentless litter, shed prodigious amounts of biomass year round (which would be great if it actually composted and played nicely with others) and were planted directly over the sewer lateral and too close to the overhead power lines, wreaking havoc with both. I cannot dig anywhere on my property without finding roots. If I leave a potted plant on the ground they will grow into the container. They are, of course, in my compost pile. Pretty admirable tenacity, but Jeez! On the other hand they provide fantastic shade in the summer, although too much in winter. Beautiful trees. They grew particularly deep green and healthy after finding their way into the sewer lateral. Sigh. I'd like to meet the guy who planted them...

Oops, was that a rant?
3 years ago
Patrick, I'm convinced their roots can colonize a city block, maybe more.
3 years ago
Ben, there was once lawn covering the whole yard, but that was 7 or 8 years ago. When I tore up the lawn, built the raised beds and planted other things in ground, all areas grew consistently. This dead zone seems more like a decline over time. There are no buried lines in that area.

I've always suspected the redwoods play a part in this, but have nothing to back my suspicions. Their roots aggressively seek water and nutrients and colonize everywhere that is irrigated. This problem patch is closest to the drip line of the trees. I wonder, could there be exudates, tannins, or fungal strains that support redwoods but exclude other plant life? And, in just that small area?
3 years ago
I have strange and persistent dead zone in my garden, and I'm hoping you all can help me figure it out. I have an urban front yard garden with raised beds and in ground plantings. There is a small area, roughly 4' x 8', where no plant can be happy. Part of this area is inside a raised bed and part is in ground. No matter what is planted--annual crops, perennials, cover crop, nitrogen fixers, etc, all will be stunted and sparse. Even weeds don't like it much. The thing is, plants don't necessarily die, they just don't grow. Seeds germinate poorly, and transplants stunt. Eventually they succumb to pests or bolt in their stunted state. I have a healthy lavender hedge that runs along the front edge of my property, and as it passes through this zone the lavender is stunted. Not sickly, not seemingly stressed, but they have spent over a year in the ground and have pushed out almost no new growth and no blooms. Next to them are lavenders 4 times their size, planted at the same time from the same plant stock.

I have no gophers, moles, voles, or ground squirrels.
I have double-dug and added lots of compost and organic matter to the raised bed, twice per year.
I mulch, and chop and drop from healthy areas of the beds
I have used fish emulsion, kelp, bat guano, vermicompost, bokashi, and other amendments.
I have tried to seed and transplant cover crop, to no avail.
Sunlight and water are consistent with the healthy beds.
There are no allopathic species around that I know of. There are 2 redwoods 20' away.

Anyone had this happen?
3 years ago
Hi Pat, I have a small urban lot, and I use two swales in the backyard to capture roof runoff. Because of some existing trees and lack of precious real estate, I opted to make my swales and paths one in the same. The swales are narrow and therefore not terribly deep, but they hold and distribute an amazing amount of water. My lot is quite flat, so I was able to dig one of the swales off contour (the bottom is level), and I have backfilled them with the largest wood chips I could find, my reasoning being that the larger chips mightl be less apt to float out, create larger voids for water, and decompose more slowly than small chips. I installed these last winter, and watched them through a few good rains and all worked well, however I'm in CA where the rains have been few and far between. If we do get the El Nino rains this year, they will be tested. Hoping!
3 years ago