Thursday, August 18, 2016

Water Bar Maintainence

Anyone that has hiked trails in the Catskills has seen the impact of human traffic on the forest floor.  Heavy traffic kills the plants.  With nothing but dead roots to hold the soil, rain water or snow melt   soon move it downhill.  Deep stony channels result.  This former farm road to a field at the top of the hill does not see heavy traffic but there is enough to for water to slowly work its way deeper than the adjacent ground.  When a house was built just downhill from this spot, storm debris was washing onto their lawn.  With their permission, gravel was hauled in to build a high spot across the lane.  This diverted the water into my woods.  Over time the water bar filled in as small stones held fine woods dirt and the water flow returned to our neighbor's lawn.

This is where the diverted water enters the woods.  A fallen tree blocks the flow and the water spreads out dropping its load of fine woods dirt.  I harvest this black gold for use in my natural gardens.  The depression between the standing tree trunk and the fallen one marks the location of my earlier harvest this year.

A channel to carry runoff away from the lane has been restored.  Additional work needs to be done here as heavy storms result in raging torrents of water racing down the lane.  The combination of small stones and fine top soil created an unbelievably hard surface.  My painstakingly slow maddock work will restore function here.

Newly placed leaves cover the soil removed from the water bar.  We have been deliberately slow in filling this bed because we did not want to kill the tree.  Little shade falls from a dead tree.  The combination of a raised bed and a thirsty tree resulted in a dry planting area.  We did manage to keep blood root alive here for several years.  New plants from seed actually grew and flowered.  One recent hard summer drought ended these plants.  A snow saucer was placed several inches beneath the top of the new soil.  Our thinking is that the saucer will retain some moisture deep beneath the blood root.  We will purchase new plants next spring and try again.  The two cardinal flower plants somehow grew here from seed despite the dry conditions.  Not all of the seeds follow the rules. They grow and bloom where they fell.   These rebels are more than welcome here.

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