Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lasagne Gardening

This is our first raised bed garden plot.  It is approximately 4' x 10'.  We plan to build several of these over the next month to get started on our spring garden.  We decided not to till the ground at all.  The soil is very compacted and somewhat clayey, but there are many earthworms (several for almost every spadeful of ground) and we don't want to chop them up with a tiller, nor do we want a heavy tractor on the land.  So, we are doing a type of sheet mulching, or lasagne gardening.


First, we laid cardboard down on the grass and staked it down.  The stakes also hold up the walls of the raised bed, which are logs from downed trees in the woods.  Next, we collected horse manure from the pasture around the garden.  Within about 100' of the garden, we collected enough manure to make a layer about 6" deep.  Next, we put down a layer of leaves (not shown) and finally a wheelbarrow load of good soil from near the creek.  We watered the whole bed with several buckets of creek water, then covered over with another layer of sheet mulch (cardboard/newspaper/brown bags) and weighted it down with wood.  We will pull back the top sheet mulch layer and add more compost/manure/leaves/soil until we eventually get a thickness of about 12" - 18", then we will plant our vegetables through a slit in the sheet mulch directly into the compost below.  Eventually, the grass under the garden will be killed, the bottom cardboard layer will decompose, and we will end up with a nice pile of rich soil, or so the theory goes!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Planting 120 Bareroot Seedling Trees

During the last two weeks, we have been planting bareroot seedling trees.  They were purchased from the Kentucky Division of Forestry.  We bought 10 each of 12 different species:  Loblolly Pine, Flowering Dogwood, Red Mulberry, Pawpaw, Black Cherry, Persimmon, Eastern Redbud, River Birch, Chinese Chestnut, Hazelnut, Black Locust and Shortleaf Pine.  About two months ago, we planted 100 Eastern Red Cedars, and next month, we will be getting another 100 Loblolly Pines.  Our goals are increased privacy, wildlife food and shelter, erosion control, reforestation of some of the pasture, as well as some fruit and nuts for us!  Here are pictures of River Birch, Loblolly Pine and Cedar trees.


Much of our soil is clayey and badly compacted, so we are "soil staking", which means driving wooden stakes on a diagonal into the ground near the planted trees.  As the wood rots, it provides open space for the roots to grow into, and humus.  We dug the holes for the trees 8" to 12" wide and worked rich soil from the woods or near the creek into the clayey soil of the hole.  The soil from the woods helps to inoculate poorer pasture soil with mycorrhizal fungi, which has been shown to benefit new trees (see Edible Forest Gardens).  Here is Randy soil staking a Black Cherry tree in front of the cabin.