Tag Archives: trees

The Dirt on Dirt

Pile of Dirt

I was looking around and found some interesting facts about our friend, dirt. Think it isn’t our friend? Try growing crops without it! (I know, there are hydroponic gardens, but really?)

70,000 different types of soil in the U.S.

1 tablespoon of soil has more organisms in it than there are people on earth

500 minimum years it takes to form one inch of topsoil

5,000 different types of bacteria in one gram of soil

.01 percent of the earth’s water held in soil

15 tons of dry soil per acre that pass through one earthworm each year

1,400,000 earthworms that can be found in an acre of cropland

20,000 pounds of total living matter in the top six inches of an acre of soil

10 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions stored in soil

4,000 gallons of water soil needs to produce one bushel of corn

11,000 Gallons of water soil needs to produce one bushel of wheat

From magazine, June/July 2010


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Blowin’ in the Wind (Or Not)


As I’ve written here before, we have a number of large oaks and maples in the the neigborhood and on our lot. The upside of so many mature trees is their beauty and shade, and watching them change through the seasons: the fresh green leaves in the spring, the coolness of their shadows in the summer, the spectacular display of color in autumn, and the stark beauty of black limbs against a wintry sky.

There are some downsides to having big trees around, of course. If they become diseased or die, they have to be removed, and that’s not a job for Harry Homeowner with his hand saw. A tree company charged over $1000 last time we had one taken out, but it was worth it to me to be able to live another day. It’s money well spent.

The other main downside comes when the leaves have fallen. I used to rake ours to the curb, where the City of Manassas picks them up with a great leaf vac that is very cool. After a few years, my back hurt badly even  after using an ergonomic rake (which I fondly referred to as my “snake rake). Fortunately, our nephew Jonathan Pankey, who has cut our grass for years, also takes care of fallen leaves. It’s not his favorite activity, but he and his crew come four or five times until all the leaves are gone. Jonathan and his helpers use leaf blowers, which is necessary because time is money in the business. I have to admit that the whine of a blower is far down the list of my favorite sounds. I recall the quiet and contemplative pleasure of raking leaves, back breaking as it was.

The New Yorker ran one of their incisive articles about the noise pollution of leaf blowers about three years ago, showing that I’m not the only one who doesn’t like the noise. Here’s a link to the story: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/25/101025fa_fact_friend .

I don’t begrudge my neighbors the use of these machines. Jonathan uses them, after all. I just wish there were a quieter way to get the job done. Ah, well, it’s not a perfect world we live in, and a little noise now and then is a small price to pay for all the gifts of trees.

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