Dust Storms

My room mate & I have been working on getting supplies to fix up the back yard. Currently it looks like a stereotype of a desert, just with less cactus and more dust. We haven't drawn out any plans yet but we've decided to build a large green house, a storage shed for our various bikes and a firepit. Oh, and a pond, just for fun. And there will be chickens. I tried to get one through Freecycle (www.freecycle.org)but I haven't gotten a response yet. Stella, my roommate, is designing (she is a welder) a chicken house and run that can be moved from plant bed to plant bed during the winter so the birds can scratch up the earth and fertilize it with droppings. The thing I'm most excited about is our green house. We will make it by buying dozens of old windows from Habitat for Humanities ReStore (near San Mateo & Zuni Walmart: http://www.habitatabq.org/restore). Incidentally I plan to volunteer there. Please support your local ReStore by donating old household items and building supplies so poor people like me can afford to make their home look nice.

So there I was on Sunday morning. My roommate had planned to help but she conked out around 5 am doing school work and I decided not to wake her. I decided to start by weeding the backyard. There's a strange sort of weed that looks kind of like a pepper plant, but with no peppers. It's got dark green, narrow, long leaves and a sort of fuzzy thing sticking out on top (a pistle? pestle?), where I assume its flowers were. Can you tell I don't know much about plants?
Anyway, there I was weeding the yard. I managed 2 hours and only finished 1/4 of the yard! I dont know what kind of weeds these are but they have deeeeep roots that are thick, they remind me of small trees. The dog even tried to help by biting and pulling on weeds in between crawling up my back and trying to play with my elbow. I was a bit depressed at how long it took to do so little since I thought I'd be done with the whole yard in that time, then Stella could rake the weeds and all the doggy poo into the compost bin. After seeing how tenacious the weeds were though I started piling them in a bin to trash. I dont want to risk spreading seeds all over the yard. On another note, its just as well I didn't pull up all the weeds yet. The fall dust storms have started and since the weeds are the only thing holding our yard together every room with an open window facing south is currently filled with gritty dust.
I'm really worried we wont be able to rehabilitate the soil. We may have to just pour strait manure/fertilizer all over and cover it with soil but that might be expensive. We're thinking about making raised bed and laying paving stones or gravel in paths around them. Oh and I discovered we cant dig very deep into the soil. There is a layer of Caliche (mineral) only 6inches down. Hopefully getting some plants growing will let the roots break it up. Here's the Wiki for Caliche if you want to know more about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caliche_(mineral)


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