Met a grape grower the next day at our farmers market. He said he tried to forgo the usual spray on one variety and lost his entire crop. Said if he couldn't spray he would not have one grape. Strangely enough I was beside him with 3 crates of grapes and 6 more crates at home which we might have to juice where we have not used spray in 30 years. Could it be that we have chickens under the grapes and there are only 2 vines? Folks, food growing is best achieved by the family in the back yard, and here's how to begin:
No Dig Garden or sheet mulching out your weeds
Heres a way to turn problem weeds into rich soil which grows what YOU want to grow.
|Side by side comparison: soil on right high in mychorrizzal fungi. Soil on left not.|
Remember one of the biggest users of electricity in WA is Water Corporation. Water comes out most people’s garden hoses thanks to burning coal. And burning coal creates climate change which in our case in the SouthWest of WA means less rain and higher temperatures. So obtain some recycled 200 l drums or palle cons ( 1000 litre plastic cube in a cage) . My friend Michele has 60 second hand drums under her eaves which are all joined together with some nifty plumbing she did herself. She waters her garden with this water collected free from the sky in PERTH!!! Lately due to climate change the garden is suffering as Perth has not had rain for 100 days and counting.
Michele is a legend.
I like garden beds to be about 1.2 meters wide, so can be reached from either side. Never walk on your garden beds if you can avoid it.
Once wet, cover the area with anything you might put in a compost heap, then lay thick layers of newspaper over the lot. Overlap them, use them like tiles. Soak the bundles of newspaper in a wheel barrow full of water to facillitate this work in windy weather. DO NOT LET ANY GREEN SHOW THROUGh!! Dont let any leaves gather energy from the sun, we want to starve the roots to death. Even when done very well, the odd kike leaf will break through the mulch. These must be pounced on immediately because they can undo all your good work if not patrolled. Finally, you need to throw on woodchips or similar weed free material to a depth of 100 mm. This prevents the newspaper from blowing away.
The layers of manure, weeds, kitchen scraps and carbon rich sawdust, woodchips etc will turn to humus and keep all that precious water in.
Time to plant !
|The driveway garden which was nothing but kike weed 3 years ago. It now produces sugar cane, quinces , mulberrys, lemon verbena and lemon grass|
herbal tea, silky bantam chickens, ducks, eggs, sweet potatoes, and bamboo to name but a few.
|Avocadoes thrive in sheet mulch and very often fail to live without it. Very worthwhile food for all creatures so try try try again till you succeed in establishing at least one! Here is one in the same driveway garden.|
|This 3 year old pic shows a paw paw which later got busted off by a naughty pig. The avo pictured above is in the background, having been just planted.|
I plant everything with a handful of compost or worm castings to innoculate the surrounding soil with good bugs and critters. I pull out any half dead kike roots in the planting hole. When August planted spuds are harvested and gone about Christmas time, I plant seedlings of cucumbers and lettuce, seeds of beans and corn. Maybe pumpkins round the edges and train outwards, as they are takeover types.
In Autumn it is again parsley, corriander and lettuce plus the entire the brassica brigade, and root crops like onions , garlic, fennel and beetroot. The root crops carrot and parsnip are fine seed and direct planted. They are not suitable for the sheet mulch garden. Please see my carrot post for advice on these. Use the search bar top left of this page and type in carrots.
We are teaching how to make good quality compost on April 15th 2014. Please email me for the details.
I found this document the other day, read it through, thinking I wrote it right to the end, when it said "Good Luck, Vicki". Well I have added a few sentences and a pic to it , but mainly we have Vicki to thank for this pile of helpful advice. Thanks heaps Vicki!
|leaf amaranthus in flower|
I have seen the soil underneath dandelions teeming with worms at the end of summer (with reticulation, I must admit). They are constantly building up the soil, and after three years the roots are good for harvesting.
Soil wetting agents are basically detergent with no extra smells or additives.
Beans can be re-sown when the last lot starts to flower. I plant by the moon ( because it works) and have a bucket of below ground seeds, and a bucket of above ground seeds . When it is above ground time I automatically go out and sow a tray with lettuce, spinach, cabbage, peas or beans rocket and coriander. When it is below ground time I automatically put in some rows of carrot and onion, and rows of parsnip / radish/ turnip combo . In this way you should have a constant job to do planting out seedlings at ANY TIME the weather is misty, or on dusk, and a constant supply of food to eat and things to sell. As long as the moon is right at seeding time, you should get big beet ROOTS and little tops, etc.
If we share the strategies we learn and look to permaculture principles as a guide it may not be as scary as it sounds...