Post date: Nov 26, 2016 7:27:45 AM

As many of our helpers know, we are rock miners here at Sugarloaf! Any time you want to dig for some reason; like to plant a tree, slow and sink some water in a swale, or some other useful activity, we have to take out rocks. From gravel size to um, well... to what is just possible to move, somehow... So, as we attempt to flatten out and plant our recently terraced area (with excavator), it is incredibly slow going, hard work. The flies aren't making it any easier! So, it's small areas and usually no more than half a day at a time.

This is the top of the terraces. The very top triangle is being sheet mulched to suppress the weeds and grass and will later be planted with bushes for nature habitat (and will extend down the side along the duck fence). The first terrace has corn and squash planted and the second is the same. The syphoning of water from the duck pond nearby (and above) worked very well - both to clean out the pond and supply nutrient rich water to improve the soil:

top terrace

The partly completed 3rd terrace has these potato mounds (most of the visible rocks have been dug out):

potato heaps

Another little patch further down is an experiment to see if corn can be transplanted - I found a cob from last season that had sprouted all these little plants:

corn transplants

Somewhere near the middle, we observed many tomato plants coming up, probably seeds from former pig area, so we mulched around them by pulling weeds near them and adding hay on top. There are some squash volunteers too:

volunteer tomatoes

This photo shows the general pattern - dig out the inside of terrace until it is level or slightly lower and use that soil to fill somewhere that is low. The areas with less green show how shallow the soil is and indicate lots of rocks hiding underneath. The terrace with the spade is too hard to fork up, so we eked out some holes, filled them with compost, planted butternut seeds, and mulched over with hay. We spread these out as a kind of inoculation because the soil is very poor and will need as much improving as possible:

This little sub terrace eventuated because of where some rocks couldn't be removed and where it was wider anyhow. Remediation/soil improvement included biochar inoculated with Em, sawdust, rock dust, lime, compost, and soybean mulch. This has been planted with corn, parsnip, carrots, and sunflowers.

carrot terrace

Now, hoping for some rain to hydrate these terraces again and nourish the seeds and plantings :)