loligo: (anemone)
[personal profile] loligo posting in [community profile] permaculture
A couple years ago we bought a house that had originally been built by an elderly couple who loved gardening. They laid out flagstone paths and rock-edged beds and made some very nice plantings. But as they got older they had a hard time maintaining their garden, and then they sold the house to a woman who was a total non-gardener. She owned the house for five years, and she said that all the "gardening" she did was paying a mowing service to mow the lawn. They alternately ignored the flower beds or mowed them down to grass height.

So we have a real wilderness to revitalize! With the first bed that I tackled, I put down like six inches or more of sheet mulch (cardboard, compost, leaf litter, topsoil...) and then when I dug in to plant my plants, I discovered that the original owners had mulched all their beds with ornamental gravel. By the time the garden came into my possession, all that gravel was hidden beneath a half-inch to inch of soil. So I dug it out of each planting hole and did the best I could. But now I can't decide what to do with the other beds. Should I dig out ALL the gravel ahead of time? Or do I only need to remove it in the immediate vicinity of each plant, trusting their roots to grow out either above or below the two-inch layer of gravel, depending on whether it's a deep or shallow-rooted plant?

Some of the gravel is pumice, which might actually help the drainage of my very heavy soil, but some of it is some very smooth, dense rock that I don't know the name of, and the layer is very compacted.

Any thoughts?

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-02 11:02 pm (UTC)
smilingslightly: little brown bat perched on her finger (Default)
From: [personal profile] smilingslightly
I'm quite interested in advice on this, too. We've had to yank out non-biodegradable gardening cloth from everywhere and, that done, it's time to work on the prime sunny spot that had been made a patio with brick laid over gravel. The brick is gone, but how to handle all that gravel? (Right now the plan is just for the housemate to employ a shovel and a wheelbarrow.) And then, how best to rejuvenate the soil? Old school would be to till a few yards of compost into the ground, but I see more and more advocating no-till methods...

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-03 05:35 am (UTC)
purpletigron: In profile: Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts from Dr Who (Default)
From: [personal profile] purpletigron
My sunniest spot is also patio.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-03 05:41 am (UTC)
purpletigron: In profile: Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts from Dr Who (Default)
From: [personal profile] purpletigron
I started off with containers. But plants need potting on every year or two into bigger containers, and sometimes it's so dry that I can't keep up with the watering (even though these are impervious pots draining into drip trays).

I have therefore moved on to creating temporary beds on my patio - simply scavenging reclaimed materials from skips around my house to build a new edge, and dumping heaps of compost directly on to the slabs within that to the deepest level I can manage or afford.

If I still like the position of the temporary beds this winter, I shall invest some energy in clearing the flags from under the bed and making it permanent.

I may be able to use the flags to edge new raised beds, set up on their sides.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-02 11:49 pm (UTC)
swordage: rotf Soundwave (Default)
From: [personal profile] swordage
I'm very interested as well! I have what was once a gravel walkway out front, which my step-mom buried under a thin layer of topsoil and then ignored. Almost nothing grows there now. I'd love to reclaim it somehow, since the deck was altered so that a path there is nonsensical at best. I'd be fine with digging it up but I'm not at all sure what to do with the granite gravel after.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-05-03 05:43 am (UTC)
purpletigron: In profile: Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts from Dr Who (Default)
From: [personal profile] purpletigron
Perhaps you can use some of it in the bottoms of containers, to help the drainage of plants in those pots?

Or perhaps you can set up an alpine planting area? I'm not sure what conditions alpine strawberries prefer, for example, as I just have them growing in my regular beds. But they fruit for about 6 months of the year!

Or perhaps a neighbour needs to set up a gravel path?

How would a tree solve this problem?

Date: 2009-05-03 05:35 am (UTC)
purpletigron: In profile: Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts from Dr Who (Default)
From: [personal profile] purpletigron
One permaculture principle as summarised by David Holmgren (http://www.holmgren.com.au/) is to 'use small slow solutions'. I like to paraphrase that as, 'How would a tree solve this problem?'

80% : 20%

Date: 2009-05-03 05:37 am (UTC)
purpletigron: In profile: Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts from Dr Who (Default)
From: [personal profile] purpletigron
Another permaculture principle which I've encountered is that a permaculture design for a system should involve 80% of the effort to set it up initially, so that only 20% of the effort is needed in maintenance.

It is considered acceptable to invest fossil fuel energy during initial implementation, if that avoids the need to continually use fossil fuel energy during the long-term use and maintenance of the system.

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permaculture: photo of a fruit tree in bloom (Default)
Permaculture: Food From Sustainable Landscapes

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