Minnesota Stump Gardening: Building that Strawberry Bed - Part 2
I had four target areas to work with in this project. There was the dirt, rich black dirt with millions of earthworm castings, found in the front of our property next to a grove of dogwood trees.
The second area was the manure pile that our neighbor so graciously delivered this morning. He arrived at 9 a.m. with a flatbed trailer with two large tractor scoops full of dry, aged horse manure. We pushed it off the trailer onto my garden and made two piles. He was glad to be rid of it, I was thankful to receive it. It was a win/win moment.
The third area was the gravel pile located in the middle of the yard by the shed. Since the stumps are technically huge planters, I decided that I needed rocks in the bottom of my pots.
The fourth target area was my stump, located in the rear of my property next to the house.
The dirt area was covered with long, green grass. There was an area that I had previously dug dirt and I grabbed a shovel and started to work the dirt so I could scoop it into buckets. I decided that the five buckets that I had would make dumping the dirt into the stumps that much easier. I was right.
The dirt was hard, since it's been dry lately, so I went to get the lawnmower to clear myself a spot. I scalped the grass off, and then walked over the my garden shed and got my garden tiller ready to go. Filled it with gas, checked the oil, set the choke, set the throttle to rabbit and pulled the rope. It started. So, now I had to drive the tiller across the yard, some three hundred feet to my spot where I was procuring dirt.
The tiller has rear tines and it works the ground by spinning these knife blades around. I had cleared a spot that was about fifteen feet long by eight foot wide. I figured that would give me plenty of top soil to scoop up into my buckets.
The dirt had the roots from the grass finely chopped up in it. Hopefully, all that grass roots won't spend a lot of time sprouting new grass. Hopefully, it will just dry up and become compost.
It was time to insert my liners that I sewed together. I walked into the house and grabbed them out and took them outside. Apparently, they are sensitive to sun and it's best to wait until you are going to use them before bringing them outside.
How did they word it, sunlight causes degradation of the material. Even storing it, you were to keep it away from open windows.
Tile for Middle
I decided that I needed a guaranteed way to get water to the bottom of the stump, so I cut a tile that was the height of the stump and cut holes in it and inserted two three foot garden stakes in each end to keep it centered in the stump as I filled stump with dirt.
Since these are just huge planters, rocks were needed in the bottom. The nice thing about putting rocks in the bottom is that the rocks spread to the edges and ensured that my liner was to the edges of the stump.
That worked out nicely. It was also a great spot to put all the rocks and boulders that had surfaced in my garden lately.
The plan is to fill the stumps with alternate layers of dirt and manure. I have five buckets and two piles, and four target stumps. I put a little in each. I don't know, at this point, how many trips it will take, but I am thankful that I have the four wheeler to transport, since it's a good three hundred feet each way, plus filling the buckets and dumping the buckets.
I have to be careful as I put the dirt and manure in as to not get any down the tube in the middle. It won't be a big deal to get a little in there, but I want the water to be able to reach the bottom easily.
Manure in, next dirt in, then manure in, then dirt in.
I will continue in this manner until the stumps are full. I'm estimating that the stump is four foot by four foot by eleven foot around. As I do the math, I figure four foot high, so about sixty-four buckets of fill.
When you do the Topsy-turvy planters, you put the plant in and then fill. Well. I found it easier to completely fill the stump with dirt and manure and then, after it was completely full, to insert cut small slits in the fabric and insert my hand cupped around the root ball, into the hole I cut. The dirt and manure naturally fills in around the root ball, so it didn't take long to put four plants in each cutout.
Final step, getting hose from the house to the planter. It's about one hundred feet so I have about five hoses hooked together.
I let the water run in the center tile for a while, then watered the dirt in the top. Then, watered through the fabric in each side hole. Then, added water to each short stump.
I think I will leave the hose hooked up to the house. I'm going to have to get a splitter on it so I can fill the dogs water dish and water the strawberries. I will have to move it occasionally when I need to mow the lawn, but otherwise, it's good to stay there hooked up.
Once it rains a few times, perhaps it will maintain itself, but meanwhile, I'll have to make sure it's hydrated.