Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Long Term Project Finished!!!!





Two years ago I started playing around with wood chips and planting. I had read about the "Back to Eden" gardening method so I thought I would give it a try.

I had load after load of wood chips brought in from the local power line crews. They are always looking for someplace to drop the stuff and since they were in the area around then the Small-Hold was really convenient for them.

Well the experiment for gardening around here was a complete and total failure. The practice was good in theory and had a lot of beneficial effects but whomever uses this method had better not have to deal with Johnson Grass or Morning Glory and they better damned well have a good supply of wood chips. I tried chipping my own to keep up with the loss due to rotting and it was impossible.

However there were some good things that came out of the experiment.

1. Wood chips proved almost perfect for filling in ruts and wet areas in gate opening and other high traffic areas. I spread a bunch of it out around the old nag water trough and behind the barn and it made those areas almost mud free for going on two years now. As the wood chips degrade they turn to dirt too and then turn those spots into higher areas.

2. Once the wood chips degraded the soil where they were put was some of the best quality you can ever find. By the end of the first year any spots I had filled with a light layer of wood chips had regrown grass and was able to be mowed without clogging up the mower blades too.

Of course I still had this huge pile of wood chips so I decided I would wait until they were a bit easier to work with and then spread em out over the last section I plan on planting fruit trees. Kinda  mini-orchard area if you will.




Well that project is finally finished except for the fun part which will be putting in some trees come Spring time.

I been leveling out the wood chips and bordering the area with railroad ties to keep them contained.

I will eventually have to start mowing this area so the wood chips are not an anti-weed barrier. In fact as I was leveling the wood chips out I already removed about 200 miles worth of Johnson Grass and Morning Glory rhizomes.




There is just literally no stopping them. Even putting down a ground cover plastic does no good as the rhizomes sneak in from the sides and grow vertically sending up a shoot every couple of inches. I must have pulled out miles and miles of the roots after I leveled the chips out. The above picture is just one of many piles of the stuff.

For a couple of years however it will keep a lot of the grass and weeds from growing up and competing with the new trees. As the wood chips continue to rot down it will also make the soil so rich I won't have to worry about fertilizer for quite some time either. Lastly the layer of wood chips will also act as a barrier against water evaporation so I won't have to be as diligent about watering the new trees next Summer.

By the time this mess of wood chips completely rots down and the grass has taken root the trees should be well enough along that mowing won't bother them. I also plan on dumping some of the barn waste in the enclosed area as the wood chip level drops which will also help with drainage as the trees age since this area will be a bit higher than the surrounding yard. Kinda like a giant 64 foot by 32 foot raised bed.

I left one section of rail road ties out so I can drive the lawn mower up into the raised area whent he time comes that it must be mowed. For the first year I imagine spot weed eating will be all that is needed.




I wrangled up two snakes while leveling these wood chips out too. A little juvenile Black Snake and a full grown Garter Snake. Neither one of them were very happy about the disturbance but the Black Snake got more than he bargained for when the Rocky and Company saw him. They were convinced they could in fact eat him although they never did manage it but it was hilarious to watch them chasing him around in front of the barn.


The chickens seem to like coming out the front of the barn whenever I leave the door opened. Today they managed to get within 10 foot of the dog before he took off after one but the hens are getting used to the dog now and know how to get away from him.

Got two 12 hour days scheduled tomorrow and Tuesday so posting will probably be light. At least I got this long term project out of the way finally.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!


14 comments:

  1. I can't believe all of those chips are finally gone, you had truck loads of the things.
    I really dislike Johnson grass, it is another case of the government helping us from what I hear.

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    1. Sf - Oh they aren't gone yet. The ones I put around the horse tank are mostly worked into the dirt from their hooves. The ones behind the barn have been broken down a lot but filled in the wet spots quite well and the last piles of them are now about as level as I am going to get them for fruit trees. I will let em set over Winter and that should rot em down a lot more and make the raised area even more level. I don't plan on refilling the fruit tree area though but will just start mowing it when the time comes. I do have some ruts down int he pasture to hay field gate I would like to fill in if I get anymore though.

      Ya Johnson grass is horrible in the garden. I must say though it doesn't make too bad of a hay crop and it works pretty well as a pasture grass as even with a lot of over grazing the sheep can't seem to manage to kill it either :)

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  2. PP - you sure are moving along with your projects! 64 by 32 raised bed?!?!? that's just crazy! but i will be very interested in seeing how it all comes along! i think that a lot of people have great ideas and some work for some and not so much for others. we tried the hugelkultur method for over 3 years now and only the strawberries seem to thrive in it. but i envy your access to all of those wood chips - i'd kill for some! jam chops up our tall, weedy grasses in a bucket with the weed whacker and we use it but to have all of those wood chips - deevine! send me some wood chips and i'll send you some seaweed! hey do you want comfrey or borage seeds? i got tons coming in.

    congrats on all of your hard work! sending much love. your friend,
    kymber

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    1. kymber - I can get wood chips in the nearby town too and I will get some more as they do work ok as a mulch in between the raised beds with the plastic down. I still have to clean em out every few years though. I would be happy to send ya some but the shipping wood be cutting things close (pun intended). Some Comfrey and Borage seeds would be welcomed actually.

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  3. I need to get some delivery's of wood chips we have a few saw mills nearby so might see what they have got, I love the idea of a big raised bed mini orchard, we plant trees in the Autumn here rather than spring :-)

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    1. Dawn - The best source for chips here are the guys who trim the trees that get into the power lines. If they are in the area they are usually begging people for a spot to dump them. The closer the better. The wood chips only block the weeds for a short time and then it looks a little ragged when the weeds are coming in but when it rots down it is the richest soil there is.

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  4. Ditto on the wood chips and Back to Eden. It did not stop the weeds in FL at all! It does make some good dirt and we used it as well to build up areas that were low and wet during the summer months. Overall using it as a hole filler or ground leveling it was a great much less expensive method then buying dirt at hundreds of dollars a load.

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    1. Izzy - Ya I loved it as a hole and rut filler. The chips would kinda mesh together and then act like a tough matt. As it rots though it does require a new layer but it stays better than dirt when it gets wet too.

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  5. I am working on a version of this Preppy. I have wood pellets which we use for our indoor rabbits. I am experimenting with various ways of managing them for use on the garden. I'm hopeful that it can fill in some of my compost needs (after all, I am buying them anyway).

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    1. TB - It should work since rabbit manure mixed in doesn't need to be cooled off I don't think. One can never have enough compost!!!!

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  6. PP,

    I'm all for great soil, but not clearing out weeds! We have plenty of wood chips in TX around and in garden beds, what a mess of weeds though. I will say the soil looks very rich in color. Poor little garter snake, chickens thought they would be eating you as an appetizer, lol.....

    Don't work to hard!!!

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    1. Sandy - Except for lugging those RR ties around this job was mostly tractor work. Much easier on my back :)

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  7. We have a wood mill near us from which we buy all our wood. I think the chippings are free, so when things quieten down here (lots of work going on inside the house at the moment) we shall go along and get some. My front garden could do with some extra help in regards to levelling the grass in the 'lawn'. Nice post, and I learnt a lot. Thanks.

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    1. Vera - I found the wood chips really worked well in the high traffic areas as they kinda packed down and meshed together so it would by pushed out of the hole when ran over like dirt always seems to do. It did take a lot longer for the grass and weeds to push through but once the chips did break down it seemed to become a more permanent fill.

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