Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hauling Number Five For The Cherry

Number and quantity aren't the same. You can have exactly one or two or 96 apples, but you can't have exactly a bushel.

Spring has hit the Minneapple, and my first project is to build a little berm around the cherry tree so that rain will soak into the ground and we'll have to irrigate less (or never). Two things mean we have to irrigate now, the dense mat of roots in turf, and the way the rain drains down the bank to the sidewalk. I think these show in the picture. I'll remove the turf inside the berm, and replace it with deeply rooted native plants. Between the berm and the roots, I'll hang onto more of whatever water hits my ground, and keep it out of the storm sewer, too.

Minnesota is right on two lines; go east and it gets wet, go west and it gets dry. North is cold, and south is warm. You can see the temperature difference in the suburban vegetation, but you have to go to the western part of the state to find plants that are adapted to a drier climate. I'm betting on climate change making my urban homestead drier. Even if it doesn't happen that way, I'm betting on an economy that makes irrigating with city water impractical (duh!).

Monday, I hauled a (cubic) yard of number five dirt, across with two twenty-five-gallon plastic tubs in the back of our seventeen year-old sub-compact Mazda. Call me Mad Max.

There are 46, 656 cubic inches in a yard. There are 231 in a gallon. That works out to within a quarter cup of 202 gallons in a yard. I wrote off the last two gallons, and made four trips. It's interesting that I was measuring so precisely. Given my tools, I couldn't do otherwise, but the guys at the yard were pretty loose. A yard is two buckets on the little Bobcat end-loader they were using. Since I could only take a quarter yard at a time, they dug out half a bucket whenever they saw me. Twice it was too generous, twice it was stingy. The last time, I figured I wanted as much as I could get, and they let me top off my bins.

It cost forty-two bucks plus tax, and I put forty-two city miles on the car. "Back of the envelope calculation,"based on the yard boss's guess that five gallons weighed sixty pounds, I flung 48 hundred pounds of dirt (between loading and unloading) one shovel at a time, plus wheelbarrow work unloading. Didn't make me stiff, which made me feel like a hot dog.

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