Here in the Northeast, the winter weather has been quite erratic. The beginning of the week was bitterly cold. We got several-inches of snow along with single digit temperatures. By mid-week, daytime temperatures rose to near 60-degrees Fahrenheit, and any precipitation came in the form of rain - and lots of rain.
My outdoor grounds crew took advantage of the milder conditions and completed more chores on the list, including cleaning the catch basins, repairing potholes, and clearing various gardens of any late season leaves - it was a good time to make sure everything was in order before any more inclement weather arrives.
Here are some photos.
When it wasn’t raining, my outdoor grounds crew worked in the pinetum behind my Equipment Barn, blowing the last of the fall leaves.
I started planting the pinetum a little more than 10-years ago. All the evergreens have done so well here.
The area looks great. The small specimen in front is Pinus strobus ‘Blue Shag’, commonly known as an eastern white pine cultivar – a dense, globose form that typically only grows to about four feet tall. Its short, blue-green needles in bundles of five are quite soft to the touch.
Meanwhile, work is also being done to fill in the potholes on the farm’s four-miles of carriage road. Most potholes in dirt or gravel roadways are caused by water trapped below the surface. Here is one filled with rainwater from the night before.
The first step is to remove the water from the hole. Pete sweeps the water out and clears it of any debris or loose stones that might prevent it from being level.
Chhiring then fills the pothole with coarse gravel and stone dust – from about three-inches below the surface of the road.
Stone dust is a good multipurpose material, which we keep on hand at the farm for any necessary repair work.
Pete follows with a rake to spread and blend the gravel into the surrounding areas of the carriage road.
Using a rake makes it easy to level the gravel across the affected area.
Next, Chhiring compacts the filler material and gravel using a steel tamper.
He continues down the length of the area until the hole is once again compacted and level with the rest of the road.
There were several potholes to refill.
The spots are checked again after cars have gone over the affected areas – this ensures enough gravel was used to fill the holes properly.
My catch basins are covered with bluestone caps. The grated drain openings are on the sides. If you have catch basins or storm drains on or near your home’s property, be sure they are checked and cleaned regularly and especially before a storm.
The purpose of a catch basin is to collect debris, leaves, and other objects that are moved by flowing water. Keeping these basins clean prevents water logging and ponding in the surrounding areas.
Pete and Chhiring slowly place steel pipes under the bluestone cap in order to easily move it off the catch basin -these caps are extremely heavy.
Here in the Northeast, it is a good idea to clean catch basins in early winter after the leaves have fallen and again in spring, after all the snow.
It looks pretty clean. Catch basins are typically located at low spots along road edges. Most catch basins have some storage in the bottom that never drains to an outflow pipe. This area traps sediments, debris, and other particles that can settle out of stormwater.
Chhiring checks to see how much sediment and gravel are in the bottom. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, basins need cleaning if the depth of solids reaches one-third the depth from the basin bottom to the opening of the lowest pipe.
Pete removes the collected gravel and sediment – there isn’t much, and the water is pretty clear.
The collected gravel can then be used to fill any bare spots and potholes.
Pete uses a crow bar to roll the bluestone cap back onto the catch basin.
The pipes are removed from underneath the cap.
We always mark where catch basins are located before the start of the winter season. This will save a lot of time and needless digging when clearing them of snow and debris. We used stakes that were tall enough to see in the deep snow, and marked both sides so there isn’t any confusion when it comes time to access them.
And here is Chhewang, blowing more leaves by my grove of weeping willows.
A leaf blower is most effective for gathering the bulk of a lawn’s leaves into large piles. These leaves are either taken to the woods or to the compost pile for decomposition.
This process does take a bit of time, but it is a necessary step to maintaining a healthy and attractive lawn and garden. A thick or matted layer of fallen leaves casts excessive shade over the ground below and can prevent adequate sun, nutrients and water from reaching grass or plantings.
The pinetum looks so beautiful after it’s cleared of leaves and debris. I try to add a few more specimens to the pinetum every year.
Here, you can see the many sizes of trees I’ve planted in this area. When I first bought my farm, I knew I wanted to plant many, many trees. I’ve planted thousands – and I am very excited to plant thousands more.