Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rock Removal - Two Different Approaches

I just prepared this garden bed for the next crop. I did a bit of digging....adding manure and shredded paper. And in the process, I removed a pile of rocks. 

Everytime I dig this bed, I remove more rocks. I think I've harvested 5 or 6 crops by now, so that's 6-7 times I've taken out a pile of rocks. 

Ok....go ahead and ask. Why didn't I just remove all the rocks the first time I dug up this bed? Good question. 

I've discovered that people have different approaches to rock removal. I learned this by watching the community garden volunteers. Their method is to remove ALL rocks up front, then deal with the garden from there. Because of the large volume of rocks being removed, this means that there is very little actual soil left to plant into before one hits solid pahoehoe lava. Of the soil that is left the volunteers shovel it up to make areas of 3-4" deep soil, thus leaving other areas devoid of soil....just bare lava. Thus out of a 22' long garden bed, it is not unusual to have 5-6' not useable until replacement soil can be made. 
(The bare stretch beside the shovel is solid lava, no dirt.) 

Now, I personally have a different approach. Actually, I have to say that I was surprised to see how the community garden volunteers handled the situation. It would have never crossed my mind to take part of the garden out of use. But then again, I'm focusing on being able to feed myself from week to week. 

My method: 
...plant between the rocks. Get a crop. Then remove some rocks but replace twice that volume in compost & manure. Plant and harvest a crop. Remove more rocks and add more compost & manure. Repeat, repeat, repeat until all the rototiller-eating rocks are gone. This way the garden area is still producing crops during the rock removal process. Yes, my method can take a few years before the rototiller can be used. But at least I'm getting food in the meantime. 

Which method is "right"?  Both!  It's just different strokes for different folks. Ya do whatcha wanna, if it makes you happy. Since I don't use a plow, I really don't have any issue planting around the rocks. While I'd prefer to use my little rototiller, a shovel or fork is fine with me too. The tiller is just faster and uses less muscle power, which at my age now, is something to take into consideration. Yes, it would be nice to have deep soil that I could quickly rototill in all the garden beds. Some day that will be the case. But I'm still in the process of creating all those little garden plots. Since I'm only one person, it will take years to remove all those rocks and replace them with homemade soil. 

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