Sunday, October 4, 2009

Turning a corner in the Bamboo Grove

September 2009

A couple of weekends of work, digging in the Bamboo Grove. We widened the trench that we dug back along the fence so that we got the most of our work. As long as we were digging in this area, it seems we should get as much dug up and the rocks removed as possible.

The technique we are using is fairly simple. We use the pick-axe -- actually a combination grubbing hoe and axe -- to break up the dirt. We pick out any rocks in the dirt and put them in the plastic tray. They get transferred them to the wheelbarrow and taken around to the driveway to get rid of.

In addition to rocks, we find roots. Bamboo roots. These are cleaned -- knocked against something hard to shake off any dirt -- and then thrown in the plastic garbage can. This is taken around front on Wednesday mornings to be collected by the City as "organic debris" along with any lawn clippings, or leafs. The City grinds it up into compost.

Once everything is separated from the dirt, it is then hoed back out of the way. Eventually there is reasonable pile of dirt, and we shovel it back onto the pile of dirt that we have dug up. This process -- pick axed, hoe, and then shovel -- means that all the dirt is pretty well mixed up, and we avoid having significantly different types of dirt.

In addition to the native dirt that I'm digging up, I buy bags of composted dirt -- the cheapest kind of stuff I can find. This has been stuff called "Organic Humus" at Lowe's. It's about $1.10 per 40 pounds. Mostly it looks like dirt with a high concentration of shredded trees. Each bag is 40 pounds, so I can get about 7 bags in my car, or I take the Forester and can get up to 20 bags.

The only down side of this is the plastic bags that it comes in. We have gotten better, bulk stuff from the Organic Gardener, but it's much more expensive, and further away, so it costs more in both time and money.
I've actually found that the plastic bags become a convenient way to package up and then discard rocks and debris. For example, the ground up limestone that came from the trench they put the electrical, cable, and telephone wires in, seems really useless. It's too fine to be rock, but has no real nutritional value for the trees and shrubs. All it would do would be make the soil really alkaline, and it already is pretty alkaline. So I put it in the bags that the humus comes in and then put it in the trash pick up on Wednesday.

Right now, I'm accumulating these bags. I plan to use them as weights (sort of like sand bags) to hold the forms for the cement wall that I will pour along and under the fence.

So having dug along one fence to the corner, the next job will be to continue digging around the corner and along the other fence. I went out yesterday and used the electric chainsaw to cut down all the bamboo in a swath along the fence some 3 to 4 feet wide. This defines the area that is to be dug next. In the picture below, there is water in the trench that I have been digging. This weekend it has been raining a far amount.