Monday, February 13, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Last summer I started studying permaculture (sustainable gardening).  I watched all the John Jeavons Youtube videos

read his book: Which was awesome and makes you feel like you really can grow enough food in your own backyard!

And double dug my beds.
Which. Sucked.
I did pick out lots of morning glory, but not enough to matter when my neighbors yards are also filled with it.
I also removed LOTS of rocks.
When I got tired of that (after 4 beds) I looked into what's called lasagna gardening, or layered gardening.  I first read about it Urban Farm magazine (which, by the way, if you are interested in any part of urban homesteading/gardening, I strongly recommend!) Essentially, you don't disturb the soil structure and instead just add organic matter (wood chips are recommended) to the top and let the worms do their work.

Ever moved a compost pile and seen the dirt underneath?  It's fantastic!  I used up all my pile last year, the pile I started on lifeless solid clay, and when it was all moved, the clay had turned into a beautiful black humus.  So I've seen first hand that this idea can work.  I'm spending this next year testing it on my own gardening.  I used a leaf mulch instead of wood chips for one very good reason: it's free.  We'll see what happens.  The best time to do this in the fall (sorry!) so it can break down over winter.  I don't think I have enough though, so we'll see how things go this year and then compare to next year.
The more I learn about soil biology and how nitrogen becomes fixed in the soil, the more I am convinced that tilling and the soil amending that goes with it, is not the best way to grow plants.

I know, I know.  But what about the rocks??  I'll have to let you know in the fall.  Raised beds are supposed to be the solution to that.  Most plant roots will not go down much farther than 4-6 inches so raised beds are great for them.  I have places I layered mulch right on the grass, so I'll let you know if any root veggies work there or not.  For now, I've found that the very act of growing will help loosen soil very well and make it easier to pull out rocks by hand when clearing out your garden bed.

The best way to explain what I'm trying this year is with this movie I've become obsessed with.  My friend sent it to me in December and I have never been more grateful for a mild winter.  I've been able to go out and work in the yard to scratch that gardening itch! The movie is almost 2 hours long, but well worth the watch.
I watch pieces of it every few weeks because I love seeing this man's garden!  It's so motivating!  And I love hearing him talk about God and nature.  If you aren't religious, it may be unappealing, but get over that.  Because,  it's still full of great info.

There are as many gardening theories out there as there are gardens.  I'm, finding the ones that appeal to me and testing them out.  If I can marry the ideas I'm learning and find they work for me, especially from the seed savers group that was recently started (more on that later this week!), I think I'm going to have one pretty awesome mini farm!  C'mon spring!!!


  1. Well, I'm sorry to say that you lost me at "studying permaculture". Ha! But I'll keep reading your blog and commenting. ;)

    1. I'll try and get some kid pics up soon. I went to a gardening workshop this weekend and now I'm all pumped and in gardening mode. Thanks for reading anyway :)