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Kena Landry

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since May 17, 2018
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Recent posts by Kena Landry

I'm not even that picky. I'll settle for "soil that is free of lead, arsenic, fuel or other contaminants". Even that is far from being a guarantee if they scrape off soil from a random building site.

Even the soil they used as filler is probably tainted by decades of urban run-off... Which is why I'll get it tested so I have some leverage if needed.
3 weeks ago
Also, there's wood chips and wood chips... I've had my best results building up my heavy clay soil with mulches that were either partially pre-composted, or in a form that decomposes fast. This is the opposite of what most people want in mulch, but I find that slow-decomposing mulches end up invaded by weeds, whereas quick-decomposing ones allow you to continuously top with new mulch.

Over the years, I've used whatever I could find, from free coffee grounds to shredded leaves, commercial bags of cocoa shells, compost, chop&drop material, etc. Ramial chipped wood (or BRF) is awesome, especially if slightly pre-composted and inoculated with mycorrhizae. Wood chips from larger branches and cedar mulch were far less effective at soil building.

As you may have seen in my other post, I now have to start over from scratch in my front yard, so I'm trying to get a first crack at the clay with daikon radishes. To be followed...
3 weeks ago
I've found comfrey provides a good barrier against invasives that send underground shoots or trailing vines. It makes a thick wall - both overground and underground - can be chopped  several times in the season for  very nutrient-rich mulch, pollinators love the flowers, it supposedly makes good chicken fodder, and can be used as a medicinal herb. Just make sure to get a sterile cultivar to avoid getting a third invasive.

I use mine to keep my neighbour's ground elder at bay and while some wheeding is still necessary, the comfrey makes it possible to have a somewhat stable situation.
3 weeks ago

Angela Wilcox wrote:Your stems look strong and berries look large and firm. Did you experience water stress this year either too much or too little?

No big droughts, but we had fairly hot spells. There were also lots of aphids early in the season, but predators eventually moved in and took care of that. The plant didn't seem affected then, but could it be an aftershock, or some kind of virus that the aphids transmitted?
3 weeks ago
It's actually what our subsoil looks like with gravel mixed in, and lots of compaction. It's a mix of whatever was under the street and under my neighbour's yard (our own dear soil and all of our plants are buried under the street a few yards down, since they dig as they go and use that to fill the area they just completed.)

No wonder we have issues with water drainage during heavy rainstorms. At least that part is local, so that's good I guess?

They told me they'd bring in about 3 inches of top soil on top of that, and when I asked where that would come from, they told me "don't worry, it's going to be good soil, you'll just need to add fertilizer". That did *not* reassure me in any way, but I'm excalating with the project supervisor.

(I feel like the cranky old lady at the town hall, but it shouldn't feel like I'm throwing a tantrum to ask for lead-free soil that will not poison my kids, right? It's like the bare minimum.)
3 weeks ago

I've been told by the contractor they still need to dig in two weeks, so actual green mulching is on hold until they're done.

But my test patch of daikon is doing fine. I am amazed it can actually grow in that hard packed clay with not a trace of organic material. Go radishes!

My mom is also sending me some mixed green mulch seeds from her favorite organic gardening pusher. I'll try to mix both.

I haven't been able to get answers as to what soil, exactly, they will use to repair, but I'm escalating inquiries. If I can't get clear answers, I'll assume it's contaminated top soil from any random urban construction site and tell them to leave my yard alone.

I've also started the process to get the underlying clay layer tested for lead (could be better than my baseline if it's clay from deep underneath, but could also be worse. In any case, I'll need that data. But soil lead tests are not common in Canada and complex to obtain.)

To be followed...
3 weeks ago

Casie Becker wrote:Where are you in general terms?  ...
Maybe you can work with your children to plant a garden that they can incorporate into their snow fort.  We always put our entrance by a thorny tree because we thought it would keep the adults and bigger kids out.

I'm in Montreal, so hot summers and plenty of snow in winter.

Love your idea of making the forts part of the design. It will probably help the girls feel responsible for the garden year round.
1 month ago
I will be documenting my attempts at saving my front yard.

Day 1:

- germination test to see if my existing buckwheat and daikon seeds are still viable.

- save what I can from the herb garden (move to containers)

- get the large visible rocks out

- assess the state of the damage (conclusion : it's all clay, machine-compressed into a thick layer. I can't get a showel in more than a few millimeters)
1 month ago
It's unlikely... They are upgrading post-war pipes so my hope is that we won't be going through that again in my lifetime... But we most likely have a few weeks left of disturbances still.

They might replant the hedge (which is not super useful in terms of permaculture but essential for some level of privacy) but they are unlikely to replace the perrenial herbs. I'll try to salvage what I can in containers for the remnant of the season.
1 month ago
I came back from vacation to find my elderberry fairly yellowed. It might just a normal seasonal change (but it seems early - can't recall if it was this early in previous years), just some stress from harsh conditions (not enough water, hot weather) or if it requires intervention.

It fruited beautifully this year, I can't see any pests...
1 month ago