GardenSMART Newsletter Signup
 
Visit our Sponsors! Southern Living Dramm
Visit our Sponsors and win.
Past Shows:

GardenSMART Episode

Show #50/6611. Front Yard Makeover-From Soil To Furniture

Summary of Show

Soil
The most important part of gardening success is the part of the garden that's right beneath our feet. SOIL is the life of the garden and the conduit through which all the water and nutrition that our plants need flows. All too often this critical component is overlooked and our plants struggle. Eric grabs a shovel and takes a look at what goes into great garden soil.
For More Information Click here

Soil Amendment
But we've got to amend it, we've got to make sure that we're building a strong foundation and a great canvas for all these amazing plants that we're going to put in. So, what they’ll do next is go back in with a SOIL AMENDMENT that's a blend of 60% of aged, milled pine bark and cow manure. There's great nutrition and nutrient holding capacity in this mix. Plants love it. Eric's favorite is Black Kow. They used about 30% Black Kow in this mix and then added about 10% sand to make sure the soil will have really good drainage.
For More Information Click here

Tiller
Every year there are new tools, and gadgets, almost anything one can imagine for the gardener. Eric loves trying them all. But also there are the old standards that most gardeners truly can’t do without. Eric shows us several of his favorites. The first is his Mantis TILLER that he's had for over 10 years and it's been worth every single penny. It still cranks up on the first pull every single spring.
For More Information Click here

Metal Edging
For many gardens installing METAL EDGING makes a huge difference. Not only does it establish clean, attractive lines but it keeps the garden soil from being washed away by the rain. Eric found it quite easy to install.
For More Information Click here

Power Planter
One of Eric's favorite new tools is the POWER PLANTER. He's dug thousands and thousands of holes over his lifetime as a gardener and one might think that someone would've upgraded the shovel at some point many, many years ago. Well, they finally have. One of the downsides to digging holes with a shovel is that you oftentimes leave slick side walls on the hole that you dig. And that makes it a little bit harder for the roots to integrate into the native soil.
For More Information Click here

Correct Height To Plant
It's also very important to make sure plants are planted at the CORRECT HEIGHT. Eric has seen so many plantings fail because the plants are planted too low and the roots become starved for oxygen. He likes to plant his plants anywhere from half an inch to an inch above grade and pull the loose fill dirt up to that level.
For More Information Click here

Outdoor Furniture
Eric points out to Raul that after months of working on this garden they've finally finished everything in the front. One of the last, crowning touches, or the exclamation point to the garden is this patio which overlooks everything, this is the vantage point where most people will enjoy this garden. It’s the front porch a place that's overlooked oftentimes. The FURNITURE and the way that we outfit those spaces oftentimes is an afterthought. But when thinking about all the effort that went into the design, the procurement of the plants and the hundreds of hours of labor that go into making a beautiful garden, this area is very important. And there's a story here, every great garden has a story. Eric thinks so should the furniture.
For More Information Click here

Growing Redwood Trees
So when Eric started learning about Raul’s company, Forever Redwood, what really impressed him is that what Raul is doing, although on a much larger scale, is a beautiful type of gardening or agriculture. Raul is growing all of these REDWOOD TREES, maintaining hundreds of acres of forest. From there they make beautiful pergolas and furniture. It's a very sustainable business model. And every piece of furniture has a story, it has a provenance. It was grown there, it was handmade. And, that's amazing.
For More Information Click here

Forestry Agriculture
Eric asks Raul to talk us through the process of the FORESTRY AGRICULTURE he's engaged in. When he first started in the nineties the lands they managed had been heavily logged in the early sixties. At that point they had taken out most of the redwood and most of the Douglas fir conifers because they where the money trees. But they left the low quality trees, the tan oak, the madrone and some of the sugar pines. So, when Raul got in there it was an overgrown forest of small trees packed together, just a kindling pile, ready to burn.
For More Information Click here

Forests Grow In A 10 Year Cycle
Raul continues, the forest grows naturally in a 10 YEAR CYCLE. During that time it's going to add about 35% volume, in a 15 year cycle, which is how they cut, it adds 50% - 60%, depending on how old the stand is. They cut 20% of the stand every 15 years and skew the cut towards the lower quality trees. They do take a couple of good trees, but mostly lower quality trees. So, the stand is improving overall, they're getting better trees, getting more volume, and you lower the fire hazard.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

Soil Amendment - Black Kow
Black Kow- The Mature Manure - Home

Tiller - Mantis
Compare Tillers | Mantis Garden Tiller/Cultivator Models

Edging - Colmet Edging
Colmet - Home

Power Planter
Planting Auger, Earth Augers, Digging Tools | Power Planter

Raul Hernandez
Raul D. Hernandez, Founder and CEO of Forever Redwood – Biographies – MOTHER EARTH NEWS | Mother Earth News

Forever Redwood
Redwood Furniture: Pergola Kits, Pavilions & Tables | Forever Redwood

Plant List

Show #50/6611. Front Yard Makeover-From Soil To Furniture

Transcript of Show

In this episode GardenSMART is building a new garden from the ground up. And what’s more fun than playing in the dirt?

The most important part of gardening success is the part of the garden that's right beneath our feet. SOIL is the life of the garden and the conduit through which all the water and nutrition that our plants need flows. All too often this critical component is overlooked and our plants struggle. Eric grabs a shovel and takes a look at what goes into great garden soil. The most important thing you can do with a new garden or with existing soil is make sure that your soil is right, before you even get started. With this site we basically had very typical, more compacted, red clay. Very, very little loam, very little sand. So they went in, tilled it up and got as many of the rocks and the roots, all of that out. Now we have nice soil from a friability standpoint. It's nice, it's soft and fluffy.

But we've got to amend it, we've got to make sure that we're building a strong foundation and a great canvas for all these amazing plants that we're going to put in. So, what they’ll do next is go back in with a SOIL AMENDMENT that's a blend of 60% of aged, milled pine bark and cow manure. There's great nutrition and nutrient holding capacity in this mix. Plants love it. Eric's favorite is Black Kow. They used about 30% Black Kow in this mix and then added about 10% sand to make sure the soil will have really good drainage. All of that went on top of the already tilled up red clay soil. We now have about two inches of this blend that is then tilled into the soil to a depth of about six inches. One can readily see what we have is this really, really rich, beautiful, dark brown, almost blackish garden soil. And that's because they went the extra steps of using these soil amendments. The plants are going to thrive, just wait and see in about one month. They're going to look amazing.

Every year there are new tools, and gadgets, almost anything one can imagine for the gardener. Eric loves trying them all. But also there are the old standards that most gardeners truly can’t do without. Eric shows us several of his favorites. The first is his Mantis TILLER that he's had for over 10 years and it's been worth every single penny. It still cranks up on the first pull every single spring. He doesn't know of a machine that does a better job of providing the perfect till every single time, especially for smaller spaces. His garden's not super large so this fits into really, really tight spaces and does an incredible job. This has the Honda four stroke engine. Eric thinks it's worth getting the one with a little more power, it makes quick work of a space. He tilled up this whole area in under 10 minutes, it's ready to plant. He suggests for the serious gardener definitely look into getting a great tiller.

For many gardens installing METAL EDGING makes a huge difference. Not only does it establish clean, attractive lines but it keeps the garden soil from being washed away by the rain. Eric found it quite easy to install. First, use an edging shovel to make a fine trench for the edging to sit in, from there use a piece of wood to hammer the edging into the trench to the desired depth. Then lastly install the stakes to hold everything in place. It's a great afternoon project that does wonders for the garden.

One of Eric's favorite new tools is the POWER PLANTER. He's dug thousands and thousands of holes over his lifetime as a gardener and one might think that someone would've upgraded the shovel at some point many, many years ago. Well, they finally have. One of the downsides to digging holes with a shovel is that you oftentimes leave slick side walls on the hole that you dig. And that makes it a little bit harder for the roots to integrate into the native soil. What Eric loves about the Power Planter is that it digs a really nice, fluffy, loose hole making it much easier to plant. It's way faster than using traditional tools and it's also better for the plant. One gets better soil integration, the root systems are going to grow into your soil much faster which means they get a head start.

With this project we've got hundreds of holes to dig, but for jobs, small or large, this really is the perfect tool. We're going to be using our six inch auger and it goes on this large Dewalt. It's super easy to set up, basically just slide it onto the shaft, pins go through the shaft, then cotter pins hold it on. Make sure the battery is charged and you're ready to start digging holes.

When it comes to proper planting one needs to consider what environment the root system is ultimately going to be happiest with, then do our best to accommodate it. Most plants are going to perform best with a nutrient rich soil that is not too compact. Compaction frustrates the roots' ability to integrate well into the new soil, and slows the plant's growth. Thus it's important to remember when we dig the holes for our plants to have a looser hole in well tilled soil instead of a hole with slick side walls from a shovel that has dug in hard, compacted soils. Avoiding these mistakes will make a big difference with a plants success. And it's also important to remember not to pack the soil too firmly around the plant when placing a plant in the hole. The fill dirt should be firm enough to stay in place and not allow for large air pockets.

It's also very important to make sure plants are planted at the CORRECT HEIGHT. Eric has seen so many plantings fail because the plants are planted too low and the roots become starved for oxygen. He likes to plant his plants anywhere from half an inch to an inch above grade and pull the loose fill dirt up to that level. If the root ball is hard and root bound it's also a good idea to gently loosen that up with our hands before planting.

Once the plants are installed make sure to water them in thoroughly. Check on them every day, especially in the first couple of weeks. At that stage ideally maintain plants on the moist side of dry for optimum results.

After a long day of gardening Eric loves retiring to the front porch to enjoy the spectacular view. And that is where having comfortable and beautiful outdoor furniture is a must. There is a lot of craftsmanship that goes into making an elegant and timeless piece of outdoor furniture. Eric meets with Raul Hernandez from Forever Redwood to discuss what goes into making these amazing redwood pieces. Eric thanks Raul for joining GardenSMART.

Eric points out to Raul that after months of working on this garden they've finally finished everything in the front. One of the last, crowning touches, or the exclamation point to the garden is this patio which overlooks everything, this is the vantage point where most people will enjoy this garden. It’s the front porch a place that's overlooked oftentimes. The FURNITURE and the way that we outfit those spaces oftentimes is an afterthought. But when thinking about all the effort that went into the design, the procurement of the plants and the hundreds of hours of labor that go into making a beautiful garden, this area is very important. And there's a story here, every great garden has a story. Eric thinks so should the furniture. We could pop in some metal furniture or some plastic furniture as an afterthought but when sitting in metal furniture on a hot day it's not comfortable, it's hot. Wood is always cool. We've had an affinity towards wood throughout history, everyone can relate to wood. And it fits in naturally with the garden.

So when Eric started learning about Raul’s company, Forever Redwood, what really impressed him is that what Raul is doing, although on a much larger scale, is a beautiful type of gardening or agriculture. Raul is growing all of these REDWOOD TREES, maintaining hundreds of acres of forest. From there they make beautiful pergolas and furniture. It's a very sustainable business model. And every piece of furniture has a story, it has a provenance. It was grown there, it was handmade. And, that's amazing. Raul explains when he started the company in the nineties he made the decision that he was going to let his customers get whatever they wanted. And, like the chair that Eric's sitting in, it was designed by a lady that gave him the design. They improved on that design because they always strive to make it a timber motif. Same thing with the other chair it was designed by an Italian lady, her husband had passed away, and she named it the tiamo bench. They've always been willing to build whatever the customers want. Forever Redwood may not be great designers but their customers are.

The big picture is Raul is not in the furniture business. He does this as a value added product line to pay for forest restoration work, which we're in desperate need of. So, all this goes towards buying forest land. For example right now they're trying to buy a 40 acre piece of land, a small space because they're a small operation. But the forests in the west are burning, it's a horrendous situation. And, most of it is due to poor forestry practice. We need to change that, but there isn't the political will for it. Eric is interested in the number of acres Raul has in management or cultivation right now? Between land Raul owns, land that the company owns and land that friends, that are completely aligned with the philosophy, they have about 500 acres they've been managing. But compared to the millions and millions of acres that are burning right now they're a guppy in a big sea. But his company's growing, they grew over 50% this year.

Eric asks Raul to talk us through the process of the FORESTRY AGRICULTURE he's engaged in. When he first started in the nineties the lands they managed had been heavily logged in the early sixties. At that point they had taken out most of the redwood and most of the Douglas fir conifers because they where the money trees. But they left the low quality trees, the tan oak, the madrone and some of the sugar pines. So, when Raul got in there it was an overgrown forest of small trees packed together, just a kindling pile, ready to burn. Instead of having a hundred trees per acre that were of all different sizes as a mature forest would be there were 500, 700 trees per acre. Most of them were going to die because they were suppressed. So, Raul went in and did a thorough thinning, a manual thinning. They took out 60% - 70% of the trees but took out the garbage, took out the ones that were suppressed, the ones that aren't going to make it, the ones that are already dead. They then limbed up the branches, which lowers the fire hazard. And, they also take a few trees to pay for it. When they started, in 1994, they had 7,000 board feet to the acre of standing timber, the same land has 16,000 today. And they've harvested it twice. The key is to harvest lightly, take care of it for the long haul.

Eric opines what Raul is doing is on a grand scale of what we do as gardeners. The objectives may be different in certain ways but it's not terribly different than the way that we look at even a small space like this. As gardeners we figure out what are the noble plants that we want to thrive and how do we make sure that everything's got enough space all while making sure everything has the resources it needs?

Raul continues, the forest grows naturally in a 10 YEAR CYCLE. During that time it's going to add about 35% volume, in a 15 year cycle, which is how they cut, it adds 50% - 60%, depending on how old the stand is. They cut 20% of the stand every 15 years and skew the cut towards the lower quality trees. They do take a couple of good trees, but mostly lower quality trees. So, the stand is improving overall, they're getting better trees, getting more volume, and you lower the fire hazard. They focus on all the stuff that’s been cut, leave all the branches, leave all the tops. Anything that's not worthwhile leave on the forest floor. Eric can relate it’s the same reason when gardening we leave the mulch. It's the same thing. By doing this you build up the soil, adding moisture and aiding habitat because if you leave a 15 or 18 inch log, that's a perfect habitat for rabbits and for small mammals.

Raul is always mystified when he sees people, especially those with a larger lot, who remove every single downed leaf from their trees, rake it clean because those leaves are the fertility for the next generation, the fertility for the next season. Trees have a way of recycling themselves. Eric remembers when old time gardeners put fencing around a tree and would then throw all the leaves in there. One doesn't see it much anymore. But we should leave that material, we don't want a perfectly clean forest because the soil dries up. It's the continuous loop of agriculture. Whatever is pulled up from the soil is going to end up in the leaves and then the leaves fall down and are composted back into the soil.

Eric asks about planting. They don't do a lot of planting anymore, they still do a little bit, but used to do a lot. What they’ve learned is the redwood re-sprouts and the Douglas fir seeds aggressively so leave the soil in the best shape you can and it'll take care of itself. It’s gardening on a big scale but it is gardening.

Understanding what Raul does makes this furniture just that much more special. This furniture is born of his heart and passion. It's part of 30 plus years of investing in good forestry, good management and then figuring out how do we make something beautiful that also has that deep connection to the land and to the garden. And that's what Eric thinks makes these pieces so incredibly special. Raul appreciates that a lot of people, especially recently, say that they're buying the furniture to support the forestry work. When they started 25 years ago people would ask, "what's restoration forestry, what's sustainable forestry?" They didn't know what it was. But today everybody knows what it is because the problem is so big. The Indians up until about 150 years ago, when they basically got kicked off their lands, burned regularly all through the west from Colorado to Washington all through California. But then we started suppressing fire and the small trees started to grow. We started having some horrendous fires starting in the late 1800s and early 1900s. And it's been a downhill battle ever since because we do the opposite. We encourage small trees, cut the big trees as much as we can because they're the money trees. We need a forest of trees of all ages and we need them spaced apart because that keeps the fuel load down. It's not about raking the forest floor, it's about getting it down on the ground where it's full of moisture and won't catch fire. If you get everything down about a foot above the ground, it won't light up but if it’s higher it just stays dry and it's just a kindling pile. We've seen evidence this year especially. It's a huge problem, we can't turn it all into parks, there is privately owned land, a mix of private, public, state and local. But, the foresters in the industry know what good forestry is but it costs money to do it. Unless it's legislated, it's like, "hey, you can't harvest timber unless you lower the fire hazard also," it won't get done.

Eric exclaims - Here's to hoping and wishing for a brighter future. Eric tells Raul how much he's enjoyed just listening to his passion and seeing the results of his work. He believes that this furniture wouldn't be possible without all the effort and heart that Raul's putts into everything he does on his acreage every year. It's definitely represented in the finished product. And, it's beautiful. Raul thanks, Eric. Yes, this furniture is going to age with the garden and should be here for 20 years. No problem. Hopefully we'll still be here in 20 years. Launching into a new garden space can be a little overwhelming, but with the right approach and some elbow grease we can set up our garden for success for years to come.

LINKS:

Soil Amendment - Black Kow
Black Kow- The Mature Manure - Home

Tiller - Mantis
Compare Tillers | Mantis Garden Tiller/Cultivator Models

Edging - Colmet Edging
Colmet - Home

Power Planter
Planting Auger, Earth Augers, Digging Tools | Power Planter

Raul Hernandez
Raul D. Hernandez, Founder and CEO of Forever Redwood – Biographies – MOTHER EARTH NEWS | Mother Earth News

Forever Redwood
Redwood Furniture: Pergola Kits, Pavilions & Tables | Forever Redwood

Plant List

Top


   
 
FEATURED ARTICLE
GardenSMART Featured Article

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Have your hanging baskets seen better days? It’s normal, by midsummer they are ready for a little TLC to bring them back to their former glory. To learn more click here for an interesting article.


  Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!  
   
   
 
   
   
Copyright © 1998-2012 GSPC. All Rights Reserved.