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Paul calls up Evan, who has some land in Massachusetts, and paid for one of Paul’s consultations.

His land is ¾ acre, near some train tracks, so unlimited rail spikes, and has a lot of trees, mostly oak, some pine.  It’s near farmland, so he gets a lot of non-human visitors like skunks, foxes, coyotes, turkeys and deer.  
Evan got a load of compost and woodchips from a local pig farmer to kick start his land, which is quite sandy.  The problem with commercial compost is that it always contains persistent herbicides, usually broad-leaf herbicides that kills everything but grass.  Probably best to give it away, or otherwise get rid of it.  If the commercial compost has broad-leaf plants growing out of it, it’s probably fine, but homemade is always going to be better.  Compost and woodchip guy says that he doesn’t spray his product, but he might accept wood that has been.  Although all the tomatoes that Evan grew in the compost look pretty good, so maybe he’s got some decent compost.  

Usually locally-sourced woodchips are from urban trees, so chances are that they have been accidentally killed with herbicides, though not always.  Maybe 5% of wood chips will be free of pesticides.  If you want herbicide-free wood chips, go out of town to a forest mill, as the forestry service is too cheap to put herbicides on their forests.  

Evan is building a fence around the property to try to keep gophers out.  Paul recommends putting rocks around the bottom of the fence to help keep diggers out while letting air get to the fence to help it from rusting.  
It’s best not to pursue perfection – just to find ways to do better.  

Relevant Threads

Composting forum

permaculture consultation with paul wheaton

Railroad ties thread

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