My new project: estimated time of completion-2009 with luck

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

I hope I have the energy to do this....

It all starts here-a sunny spot between house and woods.

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Eureka, CA

Ooooo...... I can see it now!

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Bulldozer Man helped out tremendously with preliminary tree removal. Saved me hours of work and worked so carefully, he only lost two branches off two trees.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

You get up here and help me Sannajane LOL then you'll see it before 2009 LOL!

I can't believe how such a massive metal thing could so gently maneuver a delicate tree! I dug one myself before he arrived and it took about an hour.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

This is on a slope so Dozer Man's job was to break up the rocky soil and try to level the slope down toward the kennel as much as possible.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Unfortunately, it's my job to remove rocks and sod as much as possible. I can't tell you what the ratio of rocks to any semblance of soil is- maybe 2:1

I feel the need for ibuprofen already LOL

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Got a start de-rocking last week. I think I've done the preliminary cleaning of about 1/30th of the bed. Then will come the rescreening for more rocks, then the hauling of new soil and compost.....then the planting! Yippee.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Progress! And I shall get out there again right now to fill, and refill the kitty litter buckets many times. Wish me luck and good knee padding.

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Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

I might go nuts there Pooch, I pick out any rocks bgiger than a nickel here.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

I hate to say it, Annie,
..but you could just buy a few yards of compost and put it on top of your rock bed and plant away~

Delhi, IA

How big of a bed will you get from this area? Looks pretty labor intensive to me. I like Jax's idea of topping it off with compost and going for it.

We added two major bones to my front bed today with the help of DS and Dean on crutches and I'm pooped. I had half the holes dug over a 2 week period and Mark saw it a couple of days ago and knowing his Dad couldn't dig holes here he came this afternoon. Tomorrow with Dean's help it will get 2 coats of paint. Imagine dahlias with no stakes. I figure to put them along both sides.

The blue pot is for a "fountain" planned for after the dahlias are seated. Isn't spring fun!!! But it takes a lot of energy. So far it has cost me 10 pounds (which I had to spare).

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Nipomo, CA(Zone 8a)

Annie ~~
We all love you too much to see you break your back doing this. I think you have rocks in your head if you think you should pick out all of those rocks! I agree that you need to get in a few dump loads of topsoil and compost, and call it good!
Dayna

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Oh thanks, Dayna. You're too kind. I have rocks in/on my brain, that's for sure! I want a minimum depth of 18 inches ( for general growing just in case I don't grow dahlias til I'm 105.) I don't care to elevate a raised bed that high. It will be a bit raised, but not entirely. On the uphill end where the rocks are worst, much topsoil will be added; but on the lower side I'd like to get out as many rocks as possible now and get as high quality soil as I can by next year. A few rocks are constantly heaved up here, but it will make a world of difference to get them out NOW for easier digging, tuber cleaning, stake planting etc later. Rocks and I don't get along well.

In addition to the rocks are thick veins of clay that need to be broken up. There is no pounding a stake or amending away that crud. I will get a tractor tiller to help me and hopefully unload soil too. That'd really help. As long as I can do the work, I'm gonna do it.

Al, you can come along with Sanna Jane and help! Nickel size rocks eh? You've got it worse than I do. I am constantly picking them too. They just aren't good garden partners- tangle in roots, take up space where roots should be growing, fall off mounds of soil and break emerging sprouts (that one reallly bugs me this time of year LOL)

Jam your yard and all plantings and fancy fence are just wonderful. Looks like a gardener's playground to me. And all the rocks are hidden LOL!

Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)

Now that will be a wonderful spot for your beauties. Dozer Man is my kind of fella.
Rock picking is a nasty, thankless but necessary job.
It will be lovely when it is finished and I applaud your vision.

Roxy has a kennel?

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Thanks Granny. I wouldn't say much vision is involved- just an evil necessity. Now you see why I can't ever hope for nice sculpted little oval beds or winding beds. If a bulldozer can't do it, or at least start it, it's not getting done here.

The kennel was intended for our first dog when she was a puppy and we unfortunately were working long hours. DH finally got it put up when she was about a year old LOL. We did put Roxy in after her spay surgery, on a blanket in the sun so she could enjoy the spring breeze instead of being cooped up in a crate. We put the goats in there in case there's a break in their fence and that's the same reason we're keeping it for at least now. Perhaps a greenhouse some day, but I shudder to think of all the nearby trees and wind: bad combo.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Hey, Annie.
Finally!!!
Love that dozer!
Am so glad you are working that area now!
I have seen that area with my own eyes and she does need to do everything she has said. It is a slope area so....................
But those darn rocks!
We all hate to pick them out.
You have some very large ones I see.
Well, you know what you will be doing for a few days then.
You will be so happy when it is done. I would definitely do the lasagna composting there. Grass clippings, veg. waste, leaves, etc, along with your horse manure too. My lasagna compost areas are wonderful!!! I can't say enough about them!
I will look forward to seeing your progress someday in real life again. Can't wait to see some dahlias there!!!
Good job!
Carol

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Carol and nice to see you post again. Busy with the new job I bet. I hope you have time to play in your yard too. Come by anytime, bring knee pads for rockpicking LOL.

I will indeed do some kind of lasagana layering along with bringing in new soil- you know, the pile that has been here for 4 years now. Will have to get more as well. There is a ton of barn bedding to haul and that is good stuff; breaks down in ~7 months. Then I want to try Jam's newspaper/layering method just so I can use a meatcleaver LOL! Bwa Ha ha.

It's going to be a great week in the NW! 80's sunny- one of the nicest springs in recent memory. I'll be nose to the grindstone picking rocks, of course.

Nipomo, CA(Zone 8a)

WHen my dad had to down all of the pine trees on his property due to an illness spreading among them, he had about a zillion pinecones all over the place. At first he offered the grandchildren 10 cents a pine cone, they were put into buckets like your cat litter buckets.
One day ( I am sure he had too much morphine that day :) ) he offered a dollar a pine cone to my enterpriseing nephew who went home that evening with over fifty dollars! I told him I would have picked up pien cones for that much. He said it only applied to those under fifty pounds. Do you have any local 6,7 or 8 year old kids in your neighborhood who would pick up rocks for a nickel a piece?
Dayna

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

As any NE gardener will tell you, the larger rocks will make a nice raised bed! No trucking them somewhere else, either!

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Man-o-man! That's a lot of rocks!

When I find a rock, I put it in the middle of my garden to show it off. I think I have found about 3 since I've been here -- 27 years. Our rocks are mostly big, tho -- about a foot in diameter. Unless they found a big ole 4 footer when they dug the basements back in the 1940s. They put those out by the street and paint a street number on them :)

I can't imagine going to dig a big hole and hearing that ringing sound -- don't you bounce back off the shovel every time you hit one? That would be very annoying, but picking them up one-by-one is for the birds....can't you pitch them off in the woods or something?

Suzy

Delhi, IA

Right now I'm looking for some nice rocks as Suzy mentioned to show off. Some of the photos from California folks on the forum show some beauties_____blue and all. Most of ours is just lime rock, nothing pretty.

Poochella, you are in the mist of a big project. Remember, every 5 gallon bucket you remove leaves you that much closer to your goal. Just imagine the pile you would have if you just made it your goal each day to remove a 5 gal. bucket of rock!!! In 2 months your pile would be pretty impressive. I have to view all projects in this manner to make it through. And best time for an unpleasant task is first thing in the morning. (I spent my first hour at 5 this morning pulling weeds) Good luck and keep your chin up!!!!

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Thanks all.

Dayna, I would gladly pay a neighbor kid, great idea, but we only have one candidate nearby and they are moving :( Such great neighbors too. I may be able to ask him for a few hours of rock picking before they leave. Worth a try.

Suzy, the rocks and clay are such that there IS no digging on many occasions/attempts. Your shovel just stops dead. That's when the chisel or my weed poker comes out to break up the barrier to proceed with the shovel later. Occasionally I'll find a larger 6-10 inch rock but mostly just tons of small fry. :( Probably literally tons LOL.

Jam, I'll keep your words of encouragement in mind. I am hauling the buckets of rocks to a pathway in the woods as I have done twice before, got a nice roadbed started. Perhaps a 4 lane freeway by the time I finish LOL!

I am lucky we didn't run into anything nastier underground. Neighbors just down the hill a couple hundred feet built a new house- fancy schmancy architect, all the permits, all the work siting the house just perfectly on their lot and when it came time to dig the foundation: the digger ran smack dab into a 40 x 20 foot solid boulder. It took 3 solid weeks of jackhammering to break it up enough to proceed. I much prefer the plunk plunk of small rocks in a bucket to the annoyance and jarring of a jackhammer.

I'll update my progress, right now the dahlias and perennials are crying for water-it's parched!

Mount Angel, OR(Zone 8a)

Oh, Annie, are you ever ambitious. I admire your pluck. I told myself after year before last no new beds. My hubby says it is time to stop. Well, I just started a tiny little itty bitty mum bed. But if I had rocks like yours, I would not be so ambitious. Frey's Dahlias not far from here has very rocky ground and she plants right in amongst them and they do just fine. I have also started planting out some of the shrubs my dd and I got rooted down by our pond(more like a swamp). Just can't bear to throw that stuff out.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Thanks Joann. Ooh, mums would be nice too! I figure my pluck is going to run out one year so I'm doing this now before I can't even entertain the thought. Then it will be done for myself and whoever follows in our wake. Like painting, prep work is 90% of the battle and I'll be really glad when this battle is over. Then, no more beds ( except I really want to get rid of the fruit trees and widen that lower bed) LOL It never ends, does it?

Hooks, TX

Annie,
I think fondly of you and Daisy each day when I make the rounds through my flowers. I counted this morning and have 12 different NW connection dahlias that are either in full bloom or just getting buds.
As with anything else a person enjoys, alas, I find myself planning more space for others that have caught my eye.

With a rock problem like you have, you are one more dedicated dahlia lover!!!!!

Thanks again,
Louise M.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

I have personally unloaded 5 yards of compost from my pick-up truck this season to spread on top of my rocky, rooty soil. I'm FINALLY done!!! With all of this shoveling, I'm thinking picking out the rocks might not have been such a bad idea! I DID actually take a chain saw to the bigger roots in my yard- with mixed results. Hitting rocks with a chainsaw is not good.

I used to work in advertising. I can't get a job these days b/c my skills are not "current". Hey, I just shoveled about a ton of compost- what other skills do they want??? Maybe now I'm over qualified ;-) ?

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Ah, Louise, so nice for you to say that. Am so glad they are still growing well for you.

Jax, 5 yards isn't much, LOL Try 25 yards of mulch, LOL But all is good work tho. Keep up the good job, LOL
No, hitting rocks with a chainsaw really dulls that chain. Hope you have a good shapener, LOL

Carol

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Louise, that's great news on the NW garden growing deep in the heart of Texas! I wish you many blooms.

Good news Jax: I've found a job possibility for your current skills LOL Put those muscles to work at Disneyland. How are your dahlias coming along anyway?
http://www.placesidratherbe.com/Incredible%20Hulk%20-%20Universal%20Studios.jpg

I've got down to the fun part on the first 3 ft row of the new bed: screening cubic yards of that soil for smaller rocks. Got the roadway in the woods half paved with the removed rocks and clay chunks. What's left behind isn't too bad; just needs to be mixed with decent soil and lots of earthy stuff. 25 yards might do it.....

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Annie,
How did you get a picture of of my MIL???

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Here I am nearly a year later having hand chiselled, dug, sifted, scraped, and hauled 100's of kitty litter buckets o' rocks and clay to a depth of 15-18 inches. Moved in new soil and compost and I lived to tell the tale! There are now 75 dahlias planted so far in this bed, gladioli to follow, maybe lettuce and spinach as space allows.

I did hire a neighbor kid who gave up after 10 hours of hard labor 'got busy with school.' I got busy with rocks.

Here is about 1/3 done. The mounds of soil have been sifted, with more rocks and untamed soil below them yet to be done. Those mounds had to be moved as I made progress to the area beneath them. I have shoulders like a bison now LOL! To the left, the light stuff is cast off vermiculite just because I was too tired to put it elsewhere.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

The sifter: two saw horses with my faithful screening frame. I had to change hardware cloth several times through the operation as the welds didn't hold up well to the weight and strain of the rocky soil.

The dog helped by dropping his tennis balls in the pit or soil piles at regular 3 minute intervals.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

I was under a deadline to take advantage of a front end loader here for other work who was kind enough to haul in new veggie/flower mix soil to the areas that were done. I had to move it, mix it with native soil, and level it when all sifting was done, but am very grateful. He saved me hours of loading and hauling by hand AND did it in the pouring rain.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

My camera is on vacation with DH but will post photos of the new sprouting dahlias and final result when it returns. This is absolutely the last time I will undertake such a chore, I hope.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Hey, Annie, that looks so so good!
I am proud of you, muscle lady! LOL LOL
In time, you will just look at your dahlias and see the pretty colors and forgot how much it was to do that hard work!
But I will believe it when I see it. You have lots of nice land there so I see you keep adding more beds, LOL
But really, I bet it will look so good with the new dahlias there. Can't wait to see the new pics.
Carol

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Thanks Carol. I hope it will look nice. I started out with a white, lavender and purple theme, then added reds, then adopted the added 'anything goes, just get them in the ground' attitude. So it will be a jumble of colors if all grow well.

There isn't nearly enough organic stuff in the soil, so the shoots poking through are doing it through soggy, packed, sandy soil. They're coming along fine though. I'll add more goodies to the soil each spring and fall; it really makes a difference over the years.

NO! I am not adding any new beds!

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Hey, you should have done the lasagna layer compost beds. They work great! Just keep piling on your grass clippings, plant material, and house compost. I am really amazed on how well this works and the compost/soil is much moister than regular soil.
LOL on the color scheme. It never works out. You know that, LOL But all colors will look great. That is how mine look anyways.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

WELL DONE POOCH!!! What a HUGE job!! Please keep posting pics. Thanks.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Thanks dahlianut. I'm glad I don't have a camera right now because with another inch of rain overnight it would just be pictures of puddles around the stakes :( It's been the June Monsoon here for 2 days arghhhh.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Pooch yesterday was officially cancelled in the RM group due to rain, rain, rain everywhere glub, glub, glub, glub.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

But just think, Pooch -- it will still be goregous planting soil when you are 80 and have long given up dahlias in favor of something easier like roses ROTFL!

Suzy

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