This is the beginning of the Japanese Maple viewing hillside I wrote about last June.It all starts with dirt – in this case, anything I can get my hands on from other places in the yard to fill in the steep, concave hillside. Dirt from dug out pathways, small rises, and a hastily conceived excavated carnivorous plant garden, has all been heaved down the hill. I even bought a few bags of organic topsoil, but it was a laughable drop in the bucket. It is always a cause for celebration when something else produces excess dirt for the collection. In taking what I can get, some of this soil is clay subsoil, which Japanese Maples absolutely hate. (I’ve seen this soil kill them in pots.) This will be the acid test for the microbes in the compost tea I make with supplies from Tandjenterprises.com. In my phone conversations with the owner last year, he regaled me with microbe tales of converting humusless (and humorless) soils to thriving cities of soil biota ready to support life in the upper atmosphere. I’ll put it to the test if I can survive climbing our small mountain elixir in hand.
Part two of the recipe is adding a few nuts and bolts to the soil such as fine expanded shale (sometimes called Haydite) and sphagnum peat. I would have added some compost save reading the cautionary cultural information on the very imformative website Essenceofthetree.com. Instead, a bark based soil is recommended. Never having been able to find this, I will be pressing my luck by mulching with fine pine bark instead.