Sunday, August 2, 2015

Check Those Soil Maps Folks!

I guess I could write a book called, 101+ things not to do when homesteading. Or How to Be a Dummy Homesteader. Either way, homesteading, or even just some light gardening can be really hard and time consuming. Where I'm at was stripped of forest starting in 1810 and not too long after it was cotton farming. The land here is above the fall line, so it's beginning to become hilly, this terrain, plus rain, equaled uncontrolled run off and erosion of the very deep clay soils of the piedmont. The fertile top soil which was created by ions of forest litter accumulation, was quickly lost in run off.. In other words, forest don't need fertilizer, they make their own. These concepts don't seem that un-obvious to me. Even as a child I knew that incline equals water flow, and everything flows with it. But I guess money has away of making people ignore the obvious end results in order to earn a dollar today. I do believe that money is evil in this way, hence wanting to disconnect from the monetary system and grow my own food. But it's proved difficult on my property. I looked at a USGS soil map after we bought. We have severely eroded cecil sandy loam. We also have a lot of the colloidal clay. Colloidal clay, is clay destine to compact back into a hard pan clay no matter how many times you bust it up or amend it.
Just something simple like trying to stick a solar landscape light into the dirt is met with frustration. I can only push it an inch deep. This is soil I've only recently broken up for the nth time.
So what are my options? I can make compost, and I can buy dirt to add above it in a deep raised bed. This is kind of expensive.
We constructed a large garden and fenced it in this past spring. I've only just finished row 2 of 4. Each row is about 16' long and 3' wide and raised into mounds about 18" deep. I suppose, in some ways the pan layer which holds water might help keep the plants hydrated. The spot where the garden is has poor drainage. When we dug the post holes and it rained, the holes held a foot of water for several days.
In some ways, I enjoy the challenge of the horticulture process. But I can see that on a larger scale it's going to not only take a lot of hard physical work, but also time. I'm already losing time with my family to toil out in the "Big Garden". If I was to even attempt a market garden it would cost too much of my time to be worth it. My time is the most valuable thing I have. I think that's why employment has always been a fight with me. Like school, they are taking me away from my projects, and priorities for 8 hours or more a day. There's no monetary compensation for that. Even jobs I enjoyed, like trucking, took up too much of my time, 70 hours a week, and the pay was between 28-45K a year. What's that an hour? When you driver over the road, you are, in a way, on duty 24/7 because you are with the truck for 14 days at a time or more.
I rethinking what I'm doing. I might shift to become a supporter of local and organic agriculture. If they want to do the work, and are blessed with the know how, I want to support it. I'm more of a supporter than a leader. I'm an idea person, but can't bring most of those ideas to life. I might be gifted, but I also have ADHD, so one cancels the other.
I'm always inspired, all over the place, distracted.
I think I'll shop the farmer's market, and try to shop from a new vendor each time. Because I want them all to be successful.
I just don't think I have an aptitude for agriculture. I've been gardening since I was a kid. I've only been successful transplanting the wild edibles. It's just one of the many things I love but don't have the aptitude for. But that's OK.
I've come to realize that this house is too small, and the property is too big for me to handle in my current financial bracket. It's almost greedy to have this much land. No, what I need is a house big enough for 3 people, and their hobbies. That's going to be my next post and podcast, the difference between "Tiny Housers" and those who can't afford to live in anything bigger than a tiny house.