Saturday, May 4, 2013

Archeworking it out

Consider what each soil will bear, and what each refuses - Virgil 

I think this is my first post on the Ginkgo blog (shameful, I know) and will likely not be the last (You have been warned). A few months ago, Ginkgo was contacted by our partner Neighborspace about working with the the alternative design school, Archeworks and all around soil expert Nance Klehm  on a project that would be unique to Ginkgo. As some of you may know, we have been having some erosion issues near the west side of the garden, and we thought that any sort of solution could be beneficial. 

Through the democratic decision of the Ginkgo steering committee, I was chosen to take Nance's soil class (hosted at the Archeworks building) and act as sort of the liaison between Ginkgo and Archeworks. The class lasted a month and focused on the elemental properties of soil, something that might be important for a group that concerns itself with gardening to know.

My barely legible notes

I won't get too much into the specifics of what we did in class, but some of the topics covered were soil biology and chemistry and composition. We also did some percolation tests, and I used Ginkgo's soil as my proving grounds. Funnily enough, the soil on the ground near the shed seemed to have the best mixture of drainage and permeability. I suppose we just need to add some nutrients and organic matter to the beds (which we will be doing very soon).'s time for 'the percolator'

We also learned which soils grow what best and how to help in the creation of healthy soils. We also learned that soils can do amazing things if left to its on devices. It was a very informative course and my classmates provided a wealth of knowledge and stimulating discussions, all lead by Nance. 
Nance & her canine lieutenant

In the end, we decided on three projects: A hugelkultur bed near the back gate to soak up some of that rainwater and help build new soil, a mason bee tree trunk to attract mason bees, and an assembly of straw bales and trellises near our western property line. We were able to utilize many of the materials that we had in excess, including all that straw and fruit wood from our pruning efforts. Needless to say, Evelyn probably won't be too happy about the lack of chippable wood. Our work day was on the 28th of April from 10-4 and like Chicago weather does, we must have gone through 3 seasons that day. 
Breaking down sticks for the hugelkultur beds and trellises 
All in all, we had a productive day and I am confident that our installations will both beautify and be beneficial to Ginkgo. 

stomping down the hugelkultur bed, but not because we are angry at it

Thanks to all my classmates, Nance, Archeworks & Neighborspace for helping us put this together! 

Directing the trellises

And I will leave you with one last image, although if you have seen our facebook page, you have likely spotted it before, but it couldn't hurt:

Free Chihuahua rides!