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Digging the first nursery beds

Digging new beds

WhetstoneThe spot where the old farmhouse used to sit has been earmarked for years as the future site of an experimental nursery, but this was the first year we planted into the area.  Mark started reclaiming the spot about a year ago, a process that involved of lots of weedeating to kill off blackberries and honeysuckle, plus digging out huge poke stumps.  Last fall, I kill-mulched one bed on the side closest to the trailer, using double my usual thickness of cardboard (two layers instead of one), and that bed still came up in blackberries and was a problem over the summer.  So I decided to lower my standards and dig out all the roots in that and another new bed instead of kill mulching for next year.

StonesAnd I'm glad I did!  After a week of Thanksgiving eating and writing, shoveling really hit the spot.  I've decided the biggest problem with no-till gardening is that you don't get to dig often, and I love to dig, so projects like this make my day.

But it was also good to dig that area for more serious reasons.  There were lots of big roots, including one blackberry root mass about the size of a four-year-old fruit tree, so I suspect it would have taken at least two more years of mowing before a kill mulch in that area would take.  Plus, the Appalachian foundation of piled up rocks means Kayla and I disinterred more stones during our digging project than Mark and I have found during the entire rest Wheat pennyof our time on the farm.  The timing was perfect since I want rocks to use around my new grape and didn't have any on hand.

And then there's the pure pleasure of finding ancient possessions in the soil around an old home site.  Sure, most of what we found was broken window glass and rusty nails, but Kayla went home with two nice marbles and a little ceramic container that looked like it might have held makeup or ointment.  And I found a rusty coin from 1951, probably not worth much, but fascinating for the notion that it was being held in someone's hand sixty years ago.  I think the second picture from the top might be an old whetstone too?

If I get industrious again, we've got about three more beds we could dig out in the old house area, but since I've got other digging projects on the front burner, I might let Mark mow those areas for another year first.  Either way, it's exciting to have two long beds to fill with experimental perennials --- more on that in a later post.



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