What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

decomposing wood deployed

on May 13, 2014

I’ve mentioned before that we have a lot of rotting wood cluttering our yard, most of it left after selective tree removal by previous owners of our property. It’s too far gone to use for firewood, so I’ve slowly been incorporating it into a structure I call our hugelkultur mound. It isn’t what’s usually meant by hugelkultur, since I plan to plant it with eastern redcedars (Juniperus virginiana) rather than grow vegetables on it, but the idea is the same: wood buried under organic matter that’s used as a growth medium.

Now, however, we have a new use for some of that old wood.

Our lot is covered with second-growth oak-hickory woods, so we don’t have enough sunlight for vegetable gardening except in the narrow opening beside the street. Thus I sited my garden there. It hasn’t been ideal; the soil is the nutrient-depleted red clay endemic to the US southern piedmont. (That poverty is partly due to its extreme geologic age—minerals have leached out over the millions of years—but mostly are a consequence of the disastrous practices that went with cultivating cotton from the late 18th through early 20th centuries). It’s also quite compacted and on a slope. With those challenges, I’ve satisfied myself (and the local white-tailed deer herd) with a modest plot … until now.

Nimue signed off on expanding operations, so yesterday I let a tiller beat me up for two hours as I turned 600 square feet of hardpan into a nascent Eden. Well, that’s optimistic, but it’s stirred up, at least. Since I don’t want it to wash down the hill in our first summer thunderstorm, I’ll shovel and rake it into terraces, and frame them with chunks of the old wood. They will serve both to help retain the soil (as they quietly melt into it) and mark the border. “Something special is happening here!” they’ll say.

I've just begun placing the wood blocks, but you get the idea ... kind of like playing with blocks!

I’ve just begun placing the wood blocks, but you get the idea … kind of like playing with blocks!

Indeed, scallions will happen! And potato onions! Egyptian walking onions! Tomatoes! Heirloom cowhorn okra grown for decades by Nimue’s grandparents, entrusted for preservation to me! Squash, in the prickliest varieties I can find to dissuade the deer! Though if they take an occasional leaf, I’ll accept it. Because there is enough, and shall be.

shedding style: re-purpose, relocate
destination: the garden of eatin’

Comments welcome … might some unlikely thing in your world be transformed by a new use?


4 responses to “decomposing wood deployed

    • revdarkwater says:

      Thank you! I feel very “behind” the season (we had a long winter, then summer suddenly broke upon us) and I’ve been busy in the other gardens I work with. But this is putting the fun back into it.

  1. […] I honestly feel it counts: I completed the first terrace of our street-side vegetable garden, and moved enough rotting wood to edge the […]

  2. […] calendar and abundant rains, I haven’t been able to spend much time lately developing our front-yard terraced garden. We got the lower and upper beds planted and mulched, but the middle terrace still needs the hand […]

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