Preparing the Soil
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

April 6, 2011

I’m out of shape or is picking earth really that difficult? I look over at Tony; no, no, picking is in fact a pain. There is a top layer of thickly webbed moss and liverworts, intertwining their roots under the surface holding everything together. Spread throughout this matt of growth, sprouts long sedges and grass. I figure for transplanted sprouts to take hold, we will need to remove the mosses and turn the thick clumps of dirt into a fine granulated soil. This allows our vegetable sprouts to easy grow through the soil.

                To start off with, I took a weed cutter and cut down all the grasses. Thereafter, the ground has simply required tilling. A pick-axe followed by a shovel seems to get the job done nicely. It is exhausting work mixing the soil about and pulling up all the upper layers of fine roots. But after a half hour here and there spread over a few weeks, Tony and I are finally starting to see results. The earth is starting to resemble a garden patch, but this has led to new problems.

Little time working many times over

It has still been raining consistently through the end of March and beginning of April and without the mosses to absorb the moisture, the ground is quickly turning into a mud pit. So each time we finish tilling now, we pull tarps over the soil to keep it relatively dry. This is also subsequently helping us by drying out all the moss that we’re working to break up. We hope to create some water channels to help drain the patch when we’re ready to plant. I was thinking of using long grasses laid in the channels to help limit erosion and using a star burst formation with four channels beginning in the middle and going to each corner to help move excess rain off the patch. Tony suggested we use some wood planking from a shed he wants to tear down as a garden border.

keeping the soil dry

Who knows, we may have more than a few vegetables to show for our work by the time we’re done. I’m looking forward to finally planting.

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