…And Gravel Mulch and More Chipping

Weekend 4

We hooked the cargo trailer up to the pickup and L. headed down early to get to the local gravel pit before closing on a Friday afternoon – no weekend hours for us weekend farmers.  We needed 2 yards of pea gravel.  One yard to mulch around the base of each tree and one to use as a base for the 3000 gallon cistern we hauled down to the farm week before.  She came back with 2.6 yards of the stuff, 4 tons to unload.

The theory on pea gravel is that it suppresses grass near the trunk of the tree, warms the soil in the daytime, allows water to condense from the air in the evening to keep things moist and lastly doesn’t pass pathogens to the trunk of the tree like bark or chips might.


We filled buckets of gravel for the nut trees from the main road trying to lighten the load a bit before attempting to drive the Land Cruiser up the hill with the cargo trailer attached to mulch the fruit trees and lay gravel for the cistern foundation.

About halfway up the wheels were spinning.  No problem! I had a winch. We wrapped a tree with a wide nylon tow strap to protect it hooked up the winch and began the slow crawl up the hill. Not long after a mighty “Toink” snapped the shear pin and ended my winching. (Note to self, keep a couple of shear pins in the toolkit).

Back to dragging buckets of gravel up the rest of the hill. It is a Zen thing… Be the mule, there is no mule, you are the mule… (maybe we need a mule?)

After many trips up the hill contemplating my  mule-ness the load seemed light enough to get the rest of the way up… And it worked.

The rest of the gravel in the cargo trailer (about a yard) was for the cistern foundation.  One of the reasons we purchased our military cargo trailer was because it has a makeshift dumping capability.  These units were designed to sit on end for better storage when not in use and so can be used as a dump trailer.  This was our first attempt at using it this way, and as events of the day thus far had shown us – it was going to be no picnic…

After several failures I resorted to jacking the back of the bed up and getting in and kicking the gravel out by hand. I chanted all Zen-like in my head, “There is no easy, there is only hard, be the pea gravel….. Aw c’mon pea gravel, respect gravity and GET OUT.” When I get an internal punch-drunk dialog like that I tend to crack myself up. So there I am in an upended camo trailer kicking at muddy pea gravel and asking it out loud how dare it defy gravity and laughing my butt off.

More fun was had trying to get the cistern up onto 6 inches of pea gravel without sliding it off. Tipping and rolling 400lbs of giant plastic container is super fun. Forget needing a mule, visions of tractors danced in my head.

Cistern on 6 inches of gravel

And chipping load after load of fallen alder… Love my chipper. I love it.


About M. Agriculteur

Designer, motorcycle junkie, traveler, wanna-be iron butter (more butt than iron), builder, foodie, farmer wanna-be.
This entry was posted in Gardening, Homesteading, Mulch, Sustainability, Tree Care, Water Management and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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