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Digging, digging, and more digging

And what is this, you ask...

Well, in an earlier post a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about transplanting some of our shrubs from larger containers to the front yard to start to create a native plant garden.

We brought 40 plants in pots (yes, 40!) from our previous home, and with the blessing of our current landlords, are transforming the yard. We started with transplanting salvia and lavender shrubs while we are still getting some winter rain.

And there apparently are new gardening challenges in this area, gophers and deer.

So after much research, and still researching, we bought galvanized steel mesh to create our own gopher baskets to protect the plants from those little ravenous critters.

In the above image is a steel mesh gopher basket for an Indigo Spires salvia plant.

Behind the basket you can see to the left one of the transplanted lavender shrubs. And to the right of the lavender shrub there is shredded cedar bark surrounding the Ray Hartman Ceanothus seedling planted earlier.

Here is the Indigo Spires salvia shrub to be transplanted

The soil here is clay, full of rocks, some the size of a fist.

Some of the rocks are natural, some man-made, apparently of concrete.

It seemed puzzling at first, but one theory that makes a lot of sense, is that the rocks were deliberately mixed into the soil at some point to create better drainage in the soil.

Digging a hole in this mixture of clay soil and rocks is a real challenge! It takes several hours to dig a hole 16 inches wide by 16 inches deep. And by the time we have the hole dug, the basket inserted in the hole, the a couple of inches of dirt piled into the basket, transplanted the shrub into the basket, good potting soil and compost filled in, we're completely wiped out.

At the most we can transplant two of these per day, so maybe four per weekend.

And rocks, so many rocks!

These are only some of the rocks dug out, and some are the size of a fist.

They all will be very useful, especially when I create an area to plant several varieties of wild buckwheat for the bees and butterflies. And a lot of California natives thrive in clay as well as rocky soil.

And here is the final product, a transplanted Indigo Spires salvia shrub, surrounded by shredded cedar mulch.

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