Help with huge rocky area

I have a huge extremely rocky area and I am not sure what will grow best. The soil is alkaline and is full of weeds. All suggestions are welcome. Jennifer
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wrote:

Ugh. Sounds challenging.
I think I'd use either containers or raised beds, and 'make' the soil - fill the containers or raised beds with either a pre-mixed soil (purchased) or purchased top soil or purchased mushroom compost, or regular compost - or whatever you can find, scrounge, or purchase in your area.
This is basically what we've done: we have impossible heavy, heavy, heavy clay laced with rocks. We used tire planters and filled them with purchased mushroom compost.
Tire planters:
http://www.tirecrafting.com/03gardengrow/03gardengrow.htm
I would have preferred regular raised beds made out of lumber or cement blocks, but we could not afford the lumber or cement blocks, and old tires are free.
This has worked very well for us.
Pat
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How huge is "huge"? I ask because (don't laugh!) you might want to bring in some rent-a-goats to do away with the weeds, rather than rent machinery. It's being tried by government entities in some places with success.
How rocky is "extremely rocky"? Are they big boulders or small rocks. How deeply dug in are the rocks? Could they be removed by hand labor?
If so, and if you are willing to spring for a large quantity of soil modifiers, and are willing to wait at least a season for the conditioners to change the PH of the soil, no reason why you couldn't grow whatever your climate permits.
You would probably need to use a heavy-duty tiller or some equivalent machine to really dig up and turn the earth, so it will better absorb the nutrients and other modifiers from the conditioners you put in.
In any case, once the weeds are gone and the soil modifiers are introduced, you could sow a "green manure" crop like alfalfa, which fixes atmospheric nitrogen into the soil.
Sounds like a marvelous project -- to transform a "wasteland" into a productive piece of earth. You will need some faith and a lot of persistence -- but it can be done!
Good luck.
--
Persephone




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I have a friend with some goats but there are no fences to separate the lawn and the area. Extremely rocky is rocks the size of basketballs and smaller (I think this place used to be a creek bed) but still has soil not completely rocks. I have dug about 4' down in several different places and it is the same everywhere. ***I want to do this project at little to no cost.*** (I was challenged that this is not possible) The resources that are available to me are horse, sheep, and cow manure from local ranches, pine needles, leaves, and grass clippings from neighbors, plus any other scrounging (cardboard, tires, so on). I think that I am in zone 5 (zip 96104 California Mts.), with little precipitation during the spring, summer, and fall with temperatures in the upper 90's - lower 100's. Winters here regularly get below 0 F and we get about 30"of snow or more. The local "wild" plants in the area are Mint, Elder Berry, Wild Plumb, Choke Cherry, Sagebrush, Bitterbrush, Lilac, Junipers, Pines, Fir, Quaking Aspen, Poplar, Locust. I may have missed some but these are the ones I can remember. I am keeping a photographic log of the work and I will post the pictures annually. Please keep the suggestions coming. Thank you, Jennifer
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Stake them out on chains and collars like you would a dog.

When you have rocks, build a wall. You can use it to keep the goats in and other critters out..

Any oak leaves available? High acid content to counter the alkalinity. Add the organic material just the same. Might need to add dolomitic lime.

You seem to be a wierd 6.

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wrote:

You might want to read 'Lasagna Gardening' by Patricia Lanza. I'd think you could manage quite well with those ingredients...
Or not read it: just put down the cardboard first, then pile everything else up on top and wait for it to rot. :) And it will make soil for you.
I'd ignore the rocks, as I (I personally) would not be capable of getting them out. Getting them out would enable you to till, but you can use a no-till system with the rocks in place. If you think about this: trees and weeds and so on manage to get their roots past rocks.
We've put tire planters (tires with the sidewalls cut off) down on top of rocky soil, then filled the tires with mushroom soil, and planted in them. Very good results.
Anyway... that's what I'd do.
Pat
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Uh, yeah... does the lawn need mowing <g>? Actually goats have to be supervised, lest they crop the lawn down too far. Take a book out there and ride herd on them.

They lie!

Hey, you're home free! Many gardeners would love to have access to such resources! Personally, I'd stay away from the tires, in terms of soil modification, but everything else sounds right on.

Fantabulous!

I hope you don't have to do all the backbreaking rock removal, etc. by yourself? Even if you need to hire somebody and bring in machinery in the initial stages, do it, so you don't get discouraged.
Others offered some good suggestions, like rocks (if the right shape) for walls, and oak leaves, etc.
Do a little research on composting and K.I.S.S. (keep it simple...) meaning, don't go for fancy equipment solutions when you have the space to just pile up the compost ingredients, cover them, and let them smoke (remembering to moisten from time to time).
Will be looking for your updates!
--
Persephone




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Doria wrote:

I wouldn't remove the stones and rocks, it's a unique landscape that can grow plants and look nice in time. The garden at my currrent house is very standard carefully landscaped bowling green striped lawns and curved flower beds without a stone in sight, and really it's a rather artificial and unexciting landscape to work with.
Look for plants that like poor soil and would grow well there. A few bushes like budlia may work, and you can put down poppy seeds as they grow like weeds in even the worst conditions. I find that the right planting on waste land can attract a lot of nature like birds and butterflys. But, if you want to turn it in to a suburban garden for partys and playing tennis, this isn't the way to go. -- Bry ------------------------------------------------------------------------ posted via www.GardenBanter.co.uk
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Pumpkins and zucchinis! Dig up a small circle of soil and improve it with humus and mulch, then let the vines spread over the rocks to their heart's content. Keep the water up to the plants in dry weather. Hill the soil before planting the seeds if your locality has a lot of rain in summer. Also try melons.
I can't comment on their liking for/against an alkaline soil. I don't know, but my guess is that they don't mind.
--
John Savage (news address invalid; keep news replies in newsgroup)


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