Tag Archives: permaculture

And there was rain

16 Apr

This is the second day straight we have had rain. So what better time to get my mulch happening? While doing the groceries I collected a bunch of cardboard, and went past the garden centre to get a bag of organic compost. I’m not even really the gardening type (yet. YET.) much less the gardening-in-the-rain type, so I’m proud of myself for going out and getting wet and dirty. It’s much easier to garden on a nice day when the plants are practically glowing. But the rain was soft and it wasn’t cold, so it was actually OK.

This is the before picture of the garden. Note that we have been using the bottom terrace as a compost heap.

Laying down the cardboard. I only got enough for the bottom terrace so will have to do the second one next time. I'm not bothering with the top one as it is too hard to get to.

The baby watches from the dry and warm... but really wishes he was outside with his Mama!

Then a layer of newspaper to cover any gaps.

A bag of compost seems quite big in the shop, but it looks like I'll have to get a couple more next time I'm at the garden centre!

And that’s my first mulched bed. Go to work, rain!

Advertisements

Mulch, mulch, glorious mulch

13 Apr

Since we’re coming up to winter, I’ve decided that the most useful thing I can do for my garden-to-be (apart from plan it) is to get mulching. From what I understand of permaculture so far, mulching is a method of preparing the soil that doesn’t require any digging, and has lots of benefits. Not requiring any digging sounds like a benefit to me! But it also “improves nutrient and water retention in the soil, encourages favorable soil microbial activity and worms, and suppresses weed growth” 1. And the plants grow with ‘vigor’. Vigor sounds good! Given my poor track record of sustaining gardens for more than a month, I’d like to give this garden a good head start at least.

According to Wikipedia, this is what I need to do:

  1. The area of interest is flattened by trimming down undesirable and/or invasive plant species such as weeds and grasses.
  2. The soil is analyzed and its pH is adjusted (if needed). [Note to self: figure out how to analyse the soil pH.]
  3. The soil is moisturized (if needed) to facilitate the activity of decomposers.
  4. [Add in some manure.]
  5. The soil is then covered with a thin layer of slowly-decomposing material (known as the weed barrier), typically cardboard. This suppresses the weeds by blocking sunlight, adds nutrients to the soil as weed matter quickly decays beneath the barrier, and increases the mechanical stability of the growing medium.
  6. A layer (around 10 cm thick) of weed-free soil rich in nutrients is added.
  7. A layer (at most 15 cm thick) of weed-free, woody and leafy matter. Theoretically, the soil is now ready to receive the desirable plant seeds.

But first, I need to plan where and what I’m going to do with my garden.

Time for a list

12 Apr

I like lists. They help make things simple and clear. So here is a list of things I want to do this year to be more prepared.

  • Take a pottery class. I figure making bowls and things is a practical skill that I would also enjoy doing. Cost is $150 for an 8 week class so I may have to take it in term 3 instead of next term.
  • Study permaculture and put in a garden. I figure if I can learn from a small scale city garden it will be easier to put into practice on a larger scale. Our landlords are so lax with the many maintenance issues we have had with this place that I’m not even going to bother asking if I can put in a garden. From what I have read so far I really like the idea of zoning, and keyhole gardens, and spiral herb patches outside the door and whatnot. I have a poor track record of maintaining gardens so I’d better get practicing.
  • Build up my business. I am really passionate about my business and I believe it will work. But it is not an easy economic environment to be starting a business in, so it is an unknown. I hope to make enough money to save up for things like solar panels, electric bikes and woodstoves, while they are still being produced, and for a piece of land. That requires a huge amount of money, but I have hope that we can at least make a deposit…
  • Foster connections and join local groups, here in Wellington and in Motueka if possible. I want to sign the baby up for Playcentre and Steiner School, and I have already joined Transition Towns online. I also want to join a community currency group, as well as simply network with all the wonderful people out there who have so much knowledge and goodness that I aspire to.
  • Learn more about homesteading and self sufficiency. I want to know how to survive, like my ancestors. It makes me sad that my generation (in general, of course) hasn’t learned the useful skills that our grandparents and great grandparents and great great grandparents had. I want to reclaim that.
  • Get fit and healthy. This is such a broad term and such a common goal that it’s almost cliche. But I have started eating a mostly raw diet, and it is working wonders so far. I will write more about that in another post.

OK, so that’s quite a detailed to-do list, and fairly broad, but it still lays out my immediate goals in front of me.