13 April 2011

Lab Work and Field Work

A couple of weeks ago, we sent a soil sample off to a lab to figure out what our soil was lacking. After being totally neglected for the last two years (and probably mostly neglected for some number of years before that), we were pretty sure the results wouldn't be pretty. Here's the short and sweet version:



Red denotes anything that's low, but as the explanatory text on the other pages says, low isn't necessarily bad. For instance, since excessive sodium can interfere with nutrient uptake, our sodium situation was described as "favorably low." We definitely have some areas that are unfavorably low, but our main issue is simply a lack of organic matter.

Why does that make us happy? Because "organic matter" means compost, and just hours before receiving these results, we went to Whittlesey Landscape Supplies to order a whole bunch of compost and good dirt (which is about a quarter compost). In short, we're already working on our yard's organic matter deficit. The rest seems workable over time.

While we were at Whittlesey -- and while we're already planning to rent a bobcat this weekend to spread all of the soil and compost -- we decided to go ahead and order gravel for the sides of the house and the area around the (to-be-built) raised vegetable gardens. We settled on this river gravel, which they described as 5/8" but looked like most of it is closer to an inch:



And seeing these 3-6" Arizona/New Mexico river rocks (bottom right-hand corner) inspired us to add half a ton (roughly half a cubic yard) to our order for the rain garden that isn't on our plans but seems like a great way to address our main water management issue:



All that shopping was exhausting, so Steve sat down for a minute...



...to test out one of our new boulders.

Then we wandered to the nursery next door, where we found (but didn't buy) these wonderful, huge agaves:



(For scale, check out the pallets they're sitting on -- the same size as the pallet the boulder is sitting on above.)

I love how agave leaves (leaves? branches? fronds?) have the shape of their other leaves permanently imprinted on them:



Although we may not get one this big, I can't wait to have our own agave.

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