Friday, November 29, 2013

Tending To The Soil

We've been working on our soil for the past couple of weeks.

A week ago last Saturday we put six scoops of organic compost placed on our driveway. A friend's son had time and a truck available and through four trips to Valley Sod we brought seven scoops (a scoop being a skip loader scoop) to our house. The driver kept one and left the rest for us.

Over the next week or so I hand turned the dirt in both the "koi pond" and the "corner office". Normally this hasn't been an issue as the dirt in this area has been good quality. Not anymore, I'm sad to say. I know one year I turned the dirt in the "koi pond" during the halftime presentation during the Super Bowl (roughly a half an hour). This time it took around three hours.

The "corner office" dirt was even worse. I used to find worms everywhere in the "corner office", but not any more. I ran into one worm in the "koi pond"...that's it.

So I laid out some of the organic compost on top of the dirt in the front yard, added some gypsum and hand turned it in. Then my wife made an amendment "cocktail", consisting of some John and Bob's, Earthalizer and one other amendment and laid it on top of the soil. Then we added more compost on top and used a Mantis to turn the soil again. After that we laid hay on top of the dirt.

Hand turning and machine turning the dirt brought up about 50 cutworms, almost all full sized. I tossed them all into the street.

The dirt in the south side of the "koi pond" was better than the north side dirt. This is the reverse of how it has been historically. It was easier to turn and looked somewhat healthier.

We've also brought compost into the two new raised beds in the back yard and added compost to all the roses in the front yard.

I've started to hand dig the "Far East" in the back yard. Historically this has been the rockiest area. While the going is slow and I have dug out some large chunks of asphalt, I've been pleasantly surprised with the progress so far. It's not as bad as I expected. But I have a long, long way to go. Completing the back yard will take several weeks.

On Wednesday I spent all day moving the remaining compost from the driveway into a large pile in the back yard. We covered the pile with tarps on Thursday to keep it dry from this morning's rain.

In short: I believe our soil is depleted. I have some extra time at the moment and am trying to get our growing grounds back in good condition. The front yard is completely prepared. The back yard will take some time.