sara: S (Default)
[personal profile] sara
An interesting bit from the NYT about "aquaponics" -- I don't think I'm going to give up my garden beds just yet, and I wonder about the electrical power consumption of these sorts of setups, but it's neat to read about nonetheless. I find the integration of the fish particularly intriguing -- we put goldfish in our rainbarrels last year, but I'm not planning on eating those for dinner any time soon.

Today did bring an opportunity to integrate animals into our local agricultural process, however; my son and I went out in the backyard and turned the compost heap for the first time this year, which is a stinky task for me and a momentous opportunity to munch worms and slugs for the chickens. They have been busily scratching away at the bits of the heap that weren't shoveled back into the bin.
loligo: (anemone)
[personal profile] loligo
So I added a few new plants to that bed that had the Hidden Gravel Surprise. First off, I discovered that there were roots growing both above and below the gravel layer, so breaking through the gravel beneath each plant as I planted them last year was at least an adequate strategy. But removing the gravel from the new planting holes this year was not easy. Prying out some of the larger rocks turned out to be pretty brutal on the stray roots wandering through the area, plus it totally disarranged the soil profile. In a rock-free bed I would have been able to just nudge the soil and any roots aside and slip the new plant in.

So my conclusion is that if you're going to do all your planting at one time, you can skimp on the effort and just remove the gravel below each plant, but if it's going to be an ongoing project, get ALL the gravel out first!
loligo: (anemone)
[personal profile] loligo
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?

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Permaculture: Food From Sustainable Landscapes

November 2012

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