Saturday, April 10, 2010

Garbage pick up

Well it turned cool this past week and there was a fair bit of rain that the fields probably needed. I went out a couple of times this past week to pick up garbage in the triangle. This is the first time I have really attacked the garbage situation there. I know from past experience in Ben Franklin woods that it takes a couple of years to see satisfying results as the first go through the woods inevitably leaves alot of trash that is hidden by leaves and branches. But after a couple of years there is very little trash left in the interior of the forest and most of the trash is found within 20 feet of the forest edge. On the berm the forested area is quite narrow but there wasn't a great deal of wind blown trash visible, most of the plastic seems to have been there for some time. Even when there isn't that much garbage visible it is amazing how easy it is to pick up a couple of garbage bags full. There is alot of garbage burried in the leaves that you only notice when you look. There was a lot of small pieces of styrofoam, plastic food wrappers of various kinds and larger plastic sheets or bags.

When the berm was originally planted they put a black plastic ground sheet down on top of the soil to keep the weeds and grass from competing. 15 years later this black ground sheet is still there mostly burried but poking up out of the soil here and there. I removed some of this material where it was visible. It seems to have received some holes over the years but was still a material barrier for the plant roots as every hole had roots poking through itin search of nutrients and water. At this point I think the ground sheet may be hurting the circulation of nutrients back to the trees. According to the text books the tree roots will reach into the humus made from the leaves they shed each fall seaking their lost nutrients. It also means that the humus is likely to dry out more quickly as the rain water runs off the berm and the water can't wick up from below.

I don't know how continuous the ground sheet is, certainly there are many gaps in it where trees once were planted and over the years various animals have probably chewed through it. Perhaps it is not materially impacting the nutrient or water flow. In some places where the ground sheet is visible it looks like it is fairly intact but in other areas it dives down under the forest litter and humus and it is impossible to remove without tearing it to shreds. The humus layer can be quite thick and looks like a rich organic soil full of roots.

A sample of the ground sheet pulled up out of the ground. Note: it is relatively intact with some small holes. Some of the larger holes may have been created when dragging it out of the ground.

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