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May 02, 2016

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My sister always did a clover as green manure. White clover maybe? Not sure if that's a good idea where you are, especially if you already have deer, but it worked well for her. One other thing that came up in my square foot gardening research is the pumice (I think it's pumice) that's used on athletic fields? It's light, but it won't wash up to the surface as easily as other materials used to lighten up the soil. Might look into that too?

Find someone with a horse farm and a well-aged manure pile and have them send over a dump truck full. I'm not joking; if you're in rocky Appalachian soils (and it sounds like you are from the list of birds) you will need thousands of pounds of amendments if you want any kind of garden. Can you get fallen leaves from a local municipality with garbage collection in the fall? Same thing. Stick the piles uphill from your garden so runoff will do you some good.

Your average kitchen only generates enough compost every year for a couple square yards of garden.

Some sewer utilities will sell you their leftovers. However, this seems to be somewhat controversial:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/05/07/182010827/is-it-safe-to-use-compost-made-from-treated-human-waste

A worm farm will produce terrific compost, but the production output of the darned critters is pretty pathetic.

Here's what we did in Alabama, in soil highly similar to what we have here in southern Indiana (to wit: red clay):

In Huntsville, they collect leaves, lawn clippings and shredded wood from the city tree trimmers and pile them in enormous heaps, where they get wet from the rain and break down. They'll load it up for you for $5 a front-end-loader scoop. I think my old F-250 could take two and a half scoops, which would have it sitting flat on its rear springs.

Use that for mulch and weed control, taking care not to get it right on top of your garden crops.

Also, we had some local stables where the stablehand would have me back up the truck to a stall, he'd muck it out directly into the truck bed, then move onto the next. I'd leave there with maybe a ton of manure/hay, heavily laced with urine. That you have to unload in a pile and let it cook for a couple of weeks. Or: lay down newspapers between garden rows and put the fresh manure on top, weighting down the paper. By the time the manure has cooked out some, the newspaper is crumbly and the whole mess will till in.

After a few years of that, our soil was relatively workable. You should be looking at this as if it's a multi-year project, because it just isn't going to happen much more quickly than that.

Oh: saw a pileated woodpecker today. It was so big that I mistook it for a hawk, but I couldn't figure out what kind of hawk could have that much red in it.

Plus: 17 piglets in 24 hours. Two sows; first litters for each. We didn't intend for either of them to be bred, so it's been a lot of pen- and shelter-building the last couple of weeks. The piglets are a cross between mulefoot and American guinea hog. Should be interesting to see how they turn out. AGH meat is...just fantastic. And mulefoot meat is similar, only they're at least half again as big.

My wife is the gardener, but I am the cook. I have been pleased with thyme and oregano as ground covers.

She planted peppermint one year, but wow does that stuff get out of hand. Garlic chives have been fun to have around as well.

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