Sunday, March 26, 2017

The World Will Always Need Ditch Diggers

The world will always need ditch diggers.  Or so they say.  More on that later...

The mild February weather got us an early start on our spring projects.  Now, gardening has begun, not early, but promptly on time.  All (most) of the leaves and branches from our unusually high winds have been rounded up from the garden and landscaping.

The beds we will use this year have been uncovered, and fertilizer applied to the landscaping.  We 're trying Milorganite.  The University of Georgia published a study which suggests that Milorganite will repel deer and rabbits for up to 5 weeks.  So that went around all my crocuses, and sprouting day lillies as well as into our ground cover before it grows thick and impenetrable,

The original location of the apple tree
When we first planted this apple tree (above), we did not have the large patio where the cold frame sits, and we had a different lawn mower.  When we upgraded from the regular zero turn mower to the larger diesel version, the mower deck is now just a little to wide to fit easily between the patio and the mulch around the tree.  So we chose what now seems like the perfect place for an apple tree.  I don't know why we didn't put it there to begin with.

It was wet, it was mucky, and it was heavy.  But we were able to dig a trench around the tree, loosen the soil underneath, and then my Dad showed up at the perfect time to lend moral support as we wriggled a tarp underneath the root ball and heaved the heavy, awkward, muddy, soggy tree out of its hole.  After that it wasn't too much trouble to drag the tree around to the new spot where I had a hole already prepped.

We now have a large, round, empty  hole in the lawn.
Now it is just a matter of firming up the empty hole.  We started with crushed 2 stone.  After that gets rained on a bit, we will add top soil.

Now about that ditch...

The tree filled our Friday work day.  Saturday was uncovering the garden and working on The Ditch.  The Ditch is a french drain which drains the back roof of the big garage, our very very wet side yard which stands in inches of water every time we get a lot of rain, and the neighbor's side yard and driveway.  The original design was a pipe bedded in washed 2 stone, covered with stabilization road mat and then shredded bark mulch.  The stabilization mat was to keep the mulch from filtering down into the gravel, but as it turned out, the mulch was not to be the problem.  Because the one side is a significant slope, all the soil under the stabilization mat washed down the slope from around the trees, and packed full the 2 stone surrounding the pipe.  This resulted in slow draining and in the fall when we were cleaning up leaves, the mulch on top was unbelievably, wet, ankle deep and mucky.

The new plan is a dry creek bed arrangement with all stone and zero mulch.  And the soil all underneath the mat.  It just wouldn't be fair to show you a finished creek bed and talk about how fun it was to arrange rocks and pick out the plants if I didn't show you all the back breaking work that goes into a landscape like that.

In February, Tim shoveled out all of the old mulch.  40 tractor bucket loads.  And this weekend, we recruited neighbor Mike's help and we dug up the ditch and his lawn on the other side of the fence.  This is all handwork as we try to save the pipe and maintain the grade.  The muddy 2 stone is going to the neighbor's new barn area as fill.  Not easy digging.  It took about three and a half hours to do a little more than half.  The far end is yet to be done.

We removed each section of pipe and ran water down it until it was coming out correctly into the roadside ditch.  Then we reversed the original arrangement and put the stabilization mat UNDER the drain pipe, and new washed 2 stone on top.

The next step will be to turn this big pile of unwashed, uncrushed, straight bank run into a realistic looking creek bed.  Then we'll add some edges of ground cover, some grasses, but no mulch.  There is a lot of rock moving to be done between then and now.

Unwashed Bank Run
 In other gardening news: today I got my first planting of peas in.  I also direct seeded (with last year's left over seed) lettuce down each side of the peas because I just couldn't resist.  I will still start lettuce in pots in the cold frame.  And I set out the freshly painted toad house.

The Toad House got a face lift over the winter

Friday, March 10, 2017

Go Fly a Kite!

In honor of this week's persistent destructive high winds, I have begun my spring decorating with a kite flying bunny.

I already planned to have him sitting here on the school desk at the side door to welcome guests.  The most logical activity this week would be kite flying.

Go Fly a Kite!