Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Everygreens and High PH


We have a row of pine trees along the east side of the barn and they look pitiful at best. They are a long, long ways from the water faucet and they are really yellow looking. Pine trees are EVERGREENS not, EVER YELLOWS like ours. Problem being that the soil is not acidic enough to allow the trees to utilize the iron in the soil. Even though we now know the soil is very sandy and typically sandy means acidic, it isn't acidic enough for the evergreens. Maybe it isn't acidic at all. I don't know where I tucked my ph meter in this move.
Nor is it acidic enough for the rose bush up front. I found some Miracid on sale and doused the lot good yesterday along with three other pine trees in the yard. Not a fan of commercial fertilizers but this yard is looking desperate and I'm afraid many of the plants will die if intervention doesn't happen very soon. In fact a number of bushes and trees have already died or are nearly dead.

Today it rained and that should help send the Miracid mixture deep into the roots. I'll do it again in a few weeks. In fact I have probably enough for the summer and that will give me time enough to work on research on how best to care for these trees and bring in some manure. I'm going to use commercial fertilizer for these trees and the other ones as well. Later I can go more natural. Couldn't tell until now when the buds are forming or rather not forming what we had to work with.  Lots of dead to cut out. I'm fearful for the plum tree. Not many blossoms forming and I'm hoping it is just slow not mostly dead.

The previous owners complained about the thin top soil. I think the problem is they asked for 17 years of growth and didn't add anything to the soil. The neighbor said they never saw in the eleven years they lived next to them any manure brought up here and he didn't think they fertilized. The amount of manure I need is staggering hence, the move to commercial fertilizers. If I don't act fast many more plants and trees will die.

Nearly every tree has the main trunk snipped off at the top when it was young and a side branch has become the main shoot upward. Some of the trees are really warped. Four will go bye, bye because they are dead or nearly dead and in this condition. Apparently people don't know that deer are browsers. That means they like to eat trees and brush, along with grass. Goats are also browsers so beware. That is why you always put fences around your trees. 

The apple trees are like this and the funniest looking things. They also haven't had their branches trimmed.  They can't be very productive in the condition they're in. I'll add a new tree by the worst one and then when it is up and going remove the one that looks really bad which is this one.

A number of bushes are dead. They put them at the base of the down spouts instead of putting extenders that ran the water from the roof away from the base of the house. That might of worked during the drought years but now that we are getting lots of moisture, the roots have drowned.

Too much water means no oxygen for the roots. I'm going to have to cut them out and remove all the rocks around the base of the house. Another couple bushes I think we'll remove also as they are placed randomly and in the way. From the one decent rose bush we will add starts to a crooked row they started out back. It has just two plants that are thrown into a spot and I want them in a row.  

The yard looks like someone took some dice and threw them into the air and where they land they put in trees and bushes. There is a row what I think are lilacs behind this going to be a row of roses for the rosehips and then trees that are in rows and not in rows beyond that. These are the really sick trees or dead trees. That area will need lots of cleaning out, then we will put in a row of evergreen trees, small ones because of the cost. This will form a three layered wind break and shrink the length to which we have to drag a hose to water for the here there and everywhere trees. We hope in the coming years with this layered effect and some snow fence to tame a bad snow drift that curls around the house and of course the wind that drives it. It will also give us room to drive a tractor or trailer into the fields beyond. They didn't use the fields so they didn't have a way to get into them as the garden fence and trees block a path. Don't get the idea that I love rows. In fact I like groupings but rows are needed for a wind break. The front I wish had been done in groupings but no such luck.

My fear is that the plum tree won't make it. Only one side shoot area is forming buds so far, the lower left shoots. The right top has dried up plums but shows no life so far. This tree will have to be replaced for sure if it is dead and then I'll have to wait years for plums. Here I thought I was getting a highly producing yard but alas, I'm afraid the yard got to be too much for the couple. Maybe they never did much but put in plants. There is a lot of money worth of bushes and trees. Nothing but the cottonwoods and one other unidentified tree look good though. Too many think the soil should do all the work. Take, take take, just doesn't work whether it is soil or the economy.  

The cherry trees I haven't looked at but they, I'm sure, need care. As for the raspberries, the previous owner tried putting in a snow fence by them this past winter to tame a drift and the huge snow drift it formed broke almost all the canes. Not sure we will get much from them because of that. It looks like the strawberries and raspberries are old plants and need the up shoots moved to new beds. Have any of you acidified the soil for strawberries and raspberries. I'm wondering if I need to? Do you know if your evergreens look yellow then you will need to add acid to some of your other plants like grapes too. I have some to put into the garden when it quits snowing. Looks like next week or so.

The garden has been tilled until the soil is packed.  Clay packs and so does sand. Surprised? Yes, tilling packs the soil instead of loosening it. I'm sure the owners did what Kirk's dad does and tilled, tilled, and tilled again trying to keep the soil loose but it just kills the micro-organisms and the worm holes that form tunnels through the soil naturally loosening it. I can see our garden was tilled last fall. That exposed the good guys to the cold causing many casualties. A large number of the micro-organisms that break down the soil and feed the plants were lost in all this tilling.  Ideally you don't till at all. The previous owners complained about their garden saying it had very little top soil. I'm seeing a wealth of opportunity in comparison to the soil we had to work with before. At least it is a grayish brown not a light tan. I can do something with that.

Sand I read looses calcium quickly but I'll add lots of egg shells and goat milk and that will be easily taken care of. Sand needs lots of humus because it looses nutrients, packs, and water runs right through it but I've talked to a rancher about getting some manure - I just need the time and the right weather. We had rain today and snow is in the forecast. Snow is always in the forecast this year.

 Kirk had only one day off of seven and we spent it putting away a small amount of the load we brought home last week and building fence. Two of the goats have figured out how to shimmy under the barbwire fence to the neighbors field. The goats are running out of grass to eat so we added a large new area. When I asked why they didn't eat hay they just looked at me like I was stupid. That large new area for the goats is full of all the things we brought home like the smoker, the fencing, the horse shed, the pig shed, the, the, the. Next chance we get we will move all that stuff to its permanent homes then extend the fence even further.  We want the goats to eat the grass down to the nubbins which includes the dead grass and such. That is why I part we are slow to move the fence. What springs up after it is allowed to rest is a much more healthy field. This is another area we will research as I don't think there is enough grass and too much of this one weed I'm not sure of what it is ---yet.

As things green up, I'm seeing a huge amount of yard work that needs done. I'm also seeing possibilities too. Kirk brought up the idea of putting some chokecherry trees and other wild berry and fruit trees into our draw at the bottom of the field. Fence them off from the deer and with a little babying the first few years they could really be an asset. The draw over the fence to the other side of us we think has chokecherry trees. We will watch and when they bud up we can tell. Then if so, we can ask for some starts for our own draw. My sister is going to try and bring me an elderberry tree start. They are used medicinally for many things. We figure the ginormous snow drift just up the draw from us and the rain that will flow down it should do the trick for watering once they get rooted.

Working with the land is our goal.That includes in the years to come a cellar dug into the side of the hill. So many plans, so little time, so little money, and so little energy.

That means prioritizing and this year our main focus will be clearing out the old and dead and revitalizing what we have before adding very much more.

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