Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

maybe a more gardening friendly way is 'A niche will be filled', or one Rosemary Morrow​ says is "Soil doesn't like to be naked' :)

Where there is naked soil some plant will try to fill it.
Also soil is a living thing and like us, it gets cold, or sunburnt or wind blasts it and is more comfortable and healthy with something covering it.

dense and mulched gate gardenThere are a few practical effects of this:

Don't make bare soil unless you intend to use it.

Plant densely. Help the plants you like fill the space. Plant big plants such as trees, and medium things like shrubs in between, and ground cover in between them. Don't give weeds or grass anywhere to use.
This is part of the value of the Food Forest concept.

Use mulch. If you do have bare soil, mulch is pretty much always a good idea. Consider the leaf litter on a forest floor. Cover the soil in leaves, or bark or old cardboard or shredded paper, even rocks. Something that stops the soil drying out from the sun and wind, something that breaks down safely into soil (so you don't need to move it off again), something that lets rain through.
Mulch also can be used to make use of fertiliser such as cow poop or chicken coop flooring and watering easier as it slows the release of that flow into the soil.

My picture here is my garden up at the gate. It is very zone 2, I drive past it but don't actually walk past often so I don't want to weed it or have to pay it much attention at all. Any grass and bare earth I just cover with cardboard as mulch and drop a shovel of cow poop on top to stop it blowing away.

This bed also uses a few middling sized rocks as mulch for a few reasons, a lot to do with the quite windy spot this bed is in. Again it stops the cardboard blowing away. The rocks give thermal mass and so keep the beds temperature more stable and warm. Rocks tend to attract moisture as they cool over night, especially off wind. The biggish rocks also act as a wind break so the baby plants have a bit of time to grow before they have to deal with the wind.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Getting all wintery

It is getting all cold and wet. This is good in many ways, my new pond is filling up, the ducks have stuff to splash in even without me doing anything more than leaving trays and buckets around and plants get autowatered.

The main thing I'm doing is setting up new beds ready for next spring. The cow monsters are being kept away by barbed wire fence, then 2 strand electric fence, and the new garden areas have pallet fences and some plants have their own extra chook wire. So they'll probably only get in and eat everything a few times.
I'm encouraging the ducks and chooks to hang out in the new gardens, especially the water garden pictured above by feeding them in there. So they hang out, poop on things, do some scratch and scooting. I scythe grass or get hay the cows have eaten most of and now pooped on then ignored, throw that in the main chook straw yard, they do more kicking and pooping, especially at night, (chooks do about 50% of their poop while they sleep!) and after it's sufficiently poopy I shovel it to the uphill bits of the water garden where the poultry gives it another kicking, mainly held in position by rock terrace borders. Normally I'd leave the straw yard for longer, such as 6 months, to break down, but the water garden area needs it so it can break down there and not need to be moved again.
I'm putting a few plants in the water garden. Mainly berries and a few flowers alongside the pallet fence, but really this garden won't get anything until spring, or maybe some trees in late winter from grafting workshops. This will be one of the most significant gardens but its its 1st year (it was solid blackberry) and things take time.

The other garden I'm working on for winter is my kitchen garden. Just outside my home container. Rocket stove  and outdoor shelves. The plan is to just grow herbs everywhere. Reach down and grab some basil to chuck in dinner. This is a longer term plan and in ways much simpler. I'm mainly planting a few citronella geraniums near the doors and around the edges and just semi random useful herbs that I have copies in other spots. Since for all I know I'll walk on them or the chickens'll eat them. I expect they'll be tough enough to cope but if not they have parent plants somewhere else better protected.
On a related note I'm also growing tons of cuttings of various herbs for this garden and borders. Basil and lavender and rosemary mainly. A few dozen in seedling trays. Seems to be working well so I'll probably do more and a greater variety of plants. Yay for the magical sky watering system.

What else? The kitchen garden is also slowly growing its pallet fence and I'm also doing semi-hedgerows with my wild hawthorn trees. Partially cutting through branches, bending them where I want. Mainly experiments so far but I think this hedgerow business is going to be very cool and useful. Good to stop the cows, good protection for especially native berries, the various birds love hawthorn. You can walk to a hawthorn tree and literally a hundred cute little wrens will fly out. I'll still reduce them, they are an invasive weed, but they certainly have uses.

There is a lot to harvest at this time of year too. I still have ridiculous amounts of basil I'm just keeping cycling through the solar drier. There is a plenty of perennial spinach, and I pull up the dead sun-chokes and find kilograms of tubers to eat. plus spuds and the occasional tomato and pumpkin.

So things slowing down but still heaps going on.