soil near the escarpment
Thursday, August 7 2014
This morning it was my job to walk the dogs, and because of recent rains I thought I'd bring a plastic bag in case there were good mushrooms to harvest. I'd hoped to find some in the Valley of the Beasts, but what I found was disappointing. Mostly what I saw were inedible red Russulas and brown Lactariuses, with a sprinkling of slug-eaten Boletes.
There is little soil up here on the plateau west of the Esopus Valley, especially where we live, near the escarpment. The proximity of that topological gradient creates a vacuum into which soil seems to be sucked. It ends up in the Esopus Valley, where it gradually works its way to the fjord of the Hudson. Meanwhile, to grow anything around the house requires infusions of topsoil. I've added many hundreds of gallons of soil over the years, but it's never enough. Over time, holes open up in the terraces I've prepared as the soil finds its way to voids between the rock or where logs existed before they rotted away, and I have to fill them with more soil. Today I went on a soil-gathering mission that took me as far as the Rock & Roll Hardware store in Stone Ridge, where I needed some 3/4 inch plumbing parts for the new rain barrel as well (as 5 quart galvanized steel bucket so I can carry water to my laboratory's tea pot). At Davenport's, I bought five 40 pound sacks (at $4 each) of composted manure, since topsoil on its own is never sufficient for gardening, and my humanure stocks are depleted. For the actual topsoil, I stopped at Fording Place and gathered the best soil available there. Even this was a little too sandy, but it's also got some rotten organic matter in it and parts of it resemble loam. It's always a good sign to find Poison Ivy growing in soil, since it's fussy about soil quality, though of course I try to leave the live plants and roots behind as much as possible.
After I'd gathered 30 gallons of soil, I walked across the Esopus with the dogs, and we explored the a short way into the forests of the east shore. The Fording Place road on that side includes an 80-foot-long puddle.
Back at the house, I put three of those 40 gallon bags of manure around the asparagus plants in the asparagus patch. Asparagus is a demanding plant, and I've been remiss about its needs. But recently I thoroughly weeded around the plants and I've been giving them additional water. Hopefully $12 worth of manure was the one remaining thing they needed.
In cat news, Oscar has been spending a lot of time in the laboratory, often spending time out on the laboratory deck. Julius (aka "Stripey") seems annoyed by his presence, but he's gradually becomming accustomed to Oscar's frequent presence. At some point this afternoon, though, Oscar was sitting behind Stripey and Stripey (who was lying on his belly) was making making that low "I'm pissed off!" wail. Suddenly Oscar reached out to grab Stripey, who let out a massive "Yowlr!" It was over in an instant, and nobody was injured. Stripey was noticeably unsettled, but Oscar was unfazed. Since I've never seen him doing anything the slightest bit belligerant, I have to assume he was just being playful.
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