Monday, May 14, 2012

Building A Garden

Original side yard.

Here is the side of the house when we moved in, with Sonny hanging out while I work. It's been calculated that nothing has been cared for on this property for the last 8 years, and I certainly believe it!

The soil is utterly void of organisms, which is okay, really. I am going to be building on top of the dirt to create raised garden beds. Eventually, the dirt will be fed with all the nutrients added on top, the soil creatures - worms, beetles, organisms - will begin to populate the area.

Luckily, we had a ton of boxes from moving, so this was where I began to place them after a good solid rain to keep the moisture in. I began to place them in possible garden areas, with walkways...

Future garden beds.

Cardboard placed over the dirt.
As we have ground squirrels and moles, once I was ready to create a bed, I started with some metal mesh or hardware cloth. The root systems can get their feeders through, but the moles will not be able to burrow up, pull down and gobble!
Running the mesh across the main floor of the bed.

After getting the mesh in place, I covered it with cardboard and soaked it all.  Cardboard is a great way to keep moisture in, shade out the soil, and should you have plants that you'd rather not allow to grow, you can easy chop them down and let them break down under the cardboard. This helps feed the soil as well. The cardboard breaks down over time.

After outlining the bed with bricks and rocks, I fill it with a layer of dirt from the property, then compost. We have an area where former tenants had kept chickens, and the soil there was quite good, so I pulled a bucket of that out and poured that in the bed!

Bed outlined and filled.
Once I finished, I added wind and shade breaks - which can be done with rocks, branches, broken pots. Anything to make little cubbies of safety from the wind and Sun. Then I seeded with an assortment of clover, legumes, wildflowers and herbs. I need to start a large assortment of growth in order to get the garden bed started!

Adding shade and windbreak elements.
Finished bed. One side is taller due to wind.

Other beds created with metal mesh, cardboard, rocks and compost! 

Mulched and seeded garden beds.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Planting among the Invasives...

In my earlier post, I mentioned that our back lot is filled with a "Bastard Cabbage" and we threw seedballs in there. Here are some photos... but first, the soil differences between bare dirt and the areas where the invasives are growing.

Species like this are usually annuals, (they grow, drop seed and die, and the following year it happens again but usually in larger numbers), and they are happiest in eroded, abused soils. They are the frontrunners to getting things growing where nothing grows, and when left to Nature, they will usually die off as other species begin to take to the soil they have fed. This is important stuff to know, using weed killers is the worst thing one can do. Invasives don't last forever, Nature knows how to handle them. What I'm doing is using Her plan to move the succession forward a bit more quickly.

Seed path in Bastard Cabbage.
Seedball seedlings.
I hacked a number areas between the plants in order to begin seeding all sorts of new flowers, see left. The soil is soft and easy to dig. We threw seedballs into these rows, to the right is a sprouting seedball.

I also seeded some vegetables and legumes. Hiding them within the Bastard Cabbage might 1) keep them safe from rabbits and moles that run all over our property, and 2) the shade of the tall plants may be able to let them grow under the hot Sun that is beginning to truly show itself in our desert climate.

Seeds planted and the area tagged.

Vegetable seeds planted within the tall plants.

I'm very fascinated as to what will happen! There is a rule of Redundancy in Permaculture. Plant much more than you need as it's better to have too much food and you can share. So far I've planted about 6 zucchinis, and if even one or two make it, that will be wonderful! Below are some new seedlings sprouting among the invasives.

Fingers crossed!