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Building my soil for fruit trees & veggies

Posts: 15
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
forest garden trees urban
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Hello permies!

I've got an area of my yard that is currently covered in grass & dandelions. I dug one foot of soil out and there were quite a few roots & worms, but also quite a few small stones. I filled it up with water and it drained in 6 mins.

I did the mason jar test & am having a hard time interpreting it. To me it could be 1/3 of each sand, silt, and clay?  Sorry for the ripple in the jar at the bottom. Any help interpreting would be appreciated!!

I'm trying to decide how to tackle the soil & planting:

1. A big layer of sheet mulch and plant fall rye & deep rooted soil builders?
2. Dig out stones & loosen soil without turning, then #1
3. Dig & amend soil & then #1

Also curious about digging a hole 4X the diameter of the tree ball vs. putting lots of sheet mulching to build soil from above.
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Posts: 2980
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
forest garden trees urban
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I myself have a lot of rocks.
That is to say,I have lot, and the soil of the lot is filled with rubble from the house that burned,was pushed into the basement and buried.
I have planted a small orchid on this lot by arduously digging wide holes for the trees, and by importing wood chips and leaves.
So far the oldest tree is producing well, the others are still to young.
For vegetables, I have built compost bins of  orange snow fencing,and I will grow in one spot for a while, then pull up stakes, allowing the compost to join the soil.

If I had your soil, I think I would plant Austrian winter peas and tillage radishes, both if which are yummy, if I didn't just plant my desired crops right away.
Posts: 531
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
hugelkultur fungi trees books food preservation
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Looks like sandy/loam soil to me, but I wouldn't worry about it too much if you're gonna sheet mulch the whole yard (a good idea I think).  If it was me I would kind of draw out a design and with your tree locations and plant beds along with paths borders etc. and then start the sheet mulch process with different layers for your foot paths (high carbon sheet mulch)and only amend the areas you are going to be planting in.  After that then plant your trees, and cover crop if you want to in your plant beds, or just lay your mulch in heavy (deep mulch method) there so nothing really wants to grow until you're ready to plant.
Posts: 247
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
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I'm going to make an educated guess that Vancouver Island has the gravely sandy loam that the rest of us west of the Cascades are dealing with.   Which is to say, digging out stones = hahahahahahahaha(sob)
Frankly, our soil is really good for growing Douglas Fir and cedar trees, not necessarily for vegetable gardening.  I have found that a two years of broken down mulch starts to make a nice planting area in this region.   I just started doing some fall planting and the areas that have two years of nicely broken down mulch have retained water once I down about six inches, which has kept my new trees and shrubs alive without irrigation this summer.  Anything just planted into the sandy loam without a good layer of mulch has had a harder time and needs more irrigation.   At this point, when I'm starting a new planting area, I put down cardboard, pile mulch over the top and forget about it over a winter.  With a little help from the rains and the earthworms, it starts to be usable by the next spring.  Throw some daikon and other cover crop down if you want to keep it from being a weedy mess.  The daikon does a good job of breaking up the soil surface and then rots in place.  

We can fix it! We just need some baling wire, some WD-40, a bit of duct tape and this tiny ad:
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