Friday, June 16, 2006

Gardening in a moraine

It was wondering why, every time I hoe the vegetable garden, I come up with stones the size of potatoes. I have long since learned to ignore smaller ones. When I come up with these larger stones, I throw them underneath the hawthorn hedge on the eastern border of the garden. Actually, I throw all stones that annoy me when gardening under the hedge.

The soil here at Whitelees is quite good. In fact, I bet you would envy me if you saw the black, loamy richness of this soil. It is well drained, slightly acid and very black and lovely. Anything will grow in this soil. Don't leave your spade or garden fork stuck in the ground for to long . . . .
HOWEVER, we have an inordinate number of stones.

It dawned on me the other day and I don't know why it hadn't come to me before. Knowing just enough about the geology of the area to be dangerous I have come to the conclusion that the reason we have so many small stones here in the Whitelees garden is that I am gardening on a moraine. I haven't figured out what sort of moraine it might be, probably a terminal moraine. But that's what it is.

It means that even though I've got a generally good soil structure, it is full of stinkin rocks! It only really bothers me when I am weeding and I am running into the peak weeding season now.

If you're even remotely interested, we lit a fire in our new wood burning stove today. Get a look at the whole story over on The Extension blog.

7 comments:

Gran said...

Very interesting! I googled up the following:

http://www.snh.org.uk/publications/on-line/geology/scotland/cameos.asp

Where might yer terrain fall in that article?

Peggy said...

We could be classified as being in the Southern Uplands. All you have to do is look around here and see evidence of past glacial activity. The underlying stone is predominantly slate and a beautiful pink (rather than the younger red) sandstone.

Peggy said...

Remember that slate sculpture that is on the ground floor of the Museum of Modern Art that we saw when I visited you in D.C.? That is the EXACT stone that runs under Whitelees and is quarried just down the road.

Joe said...

Here in Des Moines we are at the very southern edge of the last glacial advance (named, naturally, the "Des Moines lobe." A short bike ride takes us to the Raccoon river, which marks the end of the Des Moines lobe. Our house location was under hundreds of feet of ice a brief 14,000 years ago, or so.

The effects are different here. The receding glaciers formed swamps for many years in their wake, leaving many feet of clay and soil. Bedrock exposures north of the river are few and far between. We do have some clearly visible hills, and construction work digs up lots of Minnesota stones.

Where there are rocks, they are big ones. We have a nice granite chunk in our yard that the glacier brought from Minnesota, and the schoolyard behind us has a 5-ft+ "glacial erratic."

Glaciers do weird things. Your soil sounds a bit like northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, which were covered by the same glaciers we had...

Peggy said...

Yeah, we've got clay under half our front garden it is really noticable when its been raining for days, the bit that has the clay underneath stays "squishy" for longer. The rest is really good soil with lots of stones that have had all the edges removed, polished by years of being tumbled by the glaciers.

The Bird Woman said...

Stones! Tell me about it! I've spent ages removing the biggest stones from the shrub borders ... only to dig just as many up again when I'm weeding. I have learned to ignore the smallest ones, too!

I have ran out of places to put them now. Garden isn't mature enough to hide them under bushes! I've still got millions to move :o( I've hidden a huge pile behind the little one's play house (but that's not going to be there forever!). I think we'll have to hire a skip :o/

I envy your soil. Our soil is horrible to dig - it's heavy clay. I'm lucky if I can get the spade in three inches down the bottom of the garden! It's slowly getting easier as we add compost, etc. I am amazed anything grows in it - but the garden is really starting to take off now.

Gran said...

The soil in the Red River Valley of North Dakota is called gumbo, and it has a lot of clay in it. It was nevertheless some of the most fertile soil in the world for growing wheat and potatoes, among other things. (don't know how it is now, since much of the topsoil has been blown away.) The clay component meant that when a car drove down our alley after a rain and left tracks, the ridges were sharp when they dried, and they were painful to walk on when we were barefooted.