Updated: Jan 29, 2019
Autumn weather has finally arrived, bringing nippy mornings and beautiful afternoons. Today iron-gray clouds lay low over the land. Despite the weather, the mulch pile is warm inside, and releases a healthy amount of fungi spores when I pick up a handful. The cut grass is also composting wonderfully.
I spent a couple hours gathering plant samples, adding to my collection of pressed specimens from the land. Many of the asters are still blooming, though most of the goldenrod is bursting into fluff. I was astounded by the biodiversity. Asters are still hard for me to identify, but I collected at least 5 species and probably many more.
I filled up a whole plant press that I was lucky enough to be able to borrow from the Clemson University Herbarium.
I encountered a few young persimmon trees, a stand of sumacs, little buried oases of moss and ferns, abundant sicklepods, and a Lactarius indigo (a super cool blue mushroom).
When I emerged from exploring, Concetta took a break from mowing so that we could plan out some future beds. She paced out rectangles and put in stakes, while I followed with string.
The end product was five 10 x 3 beds, and five 20 x 3 beds. Between every bed we left a 2-foot-wide path. Next spring, these beds will be bursting with flowers!
Then Concetta began raking windrows. She raked the mowed grass from between the beds into piles within the beds. The rows of grass will decay and become the perfect base for building up organic material. Our goal is to work with our land using sustainable techniques, so we won't be tilling the soil for these beds. Tilling breaks up soil aggregates and actually reduces soil health. Instead, we are building upwards, first with grass and later with other richer material.
We checked out the soil as we raked. The grass here isn’t too aggressive and pulls up easily enough. The earth beneath is of course red clay, but as far as red clay goes, its dark and soft. Concetta even found a worm, but I didn’t get a picture. I did photograph this little buddy, a roly-poly enjoying the grass.
During this last week, Concetta and Hunter visited the land as frequently as possible, mowing and clearing, slowly but surely. We have also begun constructing a new chicken coop, with Hunter putting his carpentry skills to work. Pictures to come!