Monday, September 7, 2009

The State of the Garden

So it's the end of winter and after finishing work early I have decided to start a diary for my garden here in Ashburton. Some warm days are starting to creep through and the sun is illuminating most of my veggie patch for a large part of the day. This area sit at the west end of my garden. It is comprised of two beds measuring 1.6 by 2.7 metres each. The first and closest to the shed is the existing bed that is two planks high and came with the house. The second which reaches towards the back fence was made two weekends ago out of two planks found under the house and two gained from my father in law. This bed only goes one plank width high. I have not yet enough material to fill this second bed but am working on it with a part bail of pea straw(high priced from Bunnings), a bag of leaves including some weeds gathered from work, a days worth of lawn clippings and a bag of chook manure( overpriced from a service station in Bundoora. I have a lot more to gather and compost or sheet mulch for this bed but am reluctant to spend money on it so I am keeping an eye open for mulch and manure gathering oppurtunities. A drive to the country this weekend my solve this. I have also added some wood shavings that have spent a month in the chook pen but am wary of this due to the significant amount of time it takes to break down and the impact this may have in nitrogen consumption while it does. Two thirds of the original bed is planted with bok choi, garlic, carrots, lettuce and peas and the other third is clear with a chook tractor in place for manuring. I am considering emptying some of the soil from this bed into the one I need to fill. I have yet to set up some drip irrigation for the system. I have a couple of rules that have formulated themselves, informed by the principles of permaculture as well as gained from Fukuoka's 'one straw revolution':
1. I will not till the beds :- Natural landscapes are never tilled and tilling or disturbing the soil invariably disrupts this natural state leading to oxidisation of humus particles within the soil, the death of soil microbial entities and the oppurtunity for weed invasion. "leave it lie" is what I say and let all the life that lies beneath to flourish and attain a balance that my brutal hands and tools could only disrupt. I let the delicate tilling occur by the work of worms and the surface scratching of chooks. A mulch layer will feed the creatures that can do the work for me.
Keep it covered:- I hope to keep a layer of vegetation constantly growing over the top both to continually obtain a yeild and shade the soil from the harmful elements (I'm not currently doing this but as I am able to get a steady supply of seedlings and/mulch I will ensure that the whole system remains protected)

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