Wow, it’s been almost a month since I posted anything. I’ve been quite busy, both in the garden and with other things. Since my last pictures, you can see much has been done, but I’m not done yet. All these things happened on October 21.
The process and layers are: ground forked lightly, soil amendments added (*see note), chopped weeds, manure, cardboard (with holes punched in it), manure, a little more soil amendments (same as above), leaves, manure, wood chips.
*note – (amendments are lime, gypsum, bone meal and blood meal – we have clay soil with a fairly balanced pH, slightly acid, but needs softening – lime is alkaline and gypsum is neutral, but with acidic manure and other differences in pH of the other things, it should all balance out)
I’ll be seeking out plants that like wet conditions, such as a rose mallow (hibiscus) that can grow in our zone (we’re either 5b or 6, depending on the microclimate we’ll be producing, and depending on whose zone charts you consult!).
I also started sheet mulching inside the fence at the far end that borders a neighbor’s plots. It’s a thin row with the dark manure there.
Here I’m trying to illustrate the height of the grassy road where we drive to get to the garden, vs. the height of the garden itself. Over the years, these plots have been rototilled annually (sometimes twice a year), and this causes serious soil erosion, a problem we aim to prevent.
The bed is probably, at minimum, 8″ lower than the road. We will not be rototilling our garden beds at all, and have discovered this is one of the contributing factors of climate change, not dissimilar to the dust bowl that was caused by human error in farming practices. This is one reason why we’re sheet mulching – adding to the land but not taking out the nitrogen by tilling. We’ll be planting species that drop leaves to condition the soil, adding biomass and soil structure that holds water during those dry spells.
This illustrates how high we piled the beds to regain some of the height of the land, to prevent the roots drowning in spring. This will shrink by at least 50% most likely. But we’ll continue adding once we can chop and drop leaves of our own.
Here are the piles of free wood chips I pick up on a regular basis, at the city of Aurora where we obtain them. There are mostly ramial type chips (the preferred choice if you want to add considerably to soil structure and not rob nitrogen), which means, they come from deciduous tree branches, twigs and shrubs. I can tell based on the few leaves I can find, and the numerous twigs mixed throughout.
The lot is open day and night, and we’ve gone there at night by street light, after long days at the garden. You can see my car backed up to the wood chip pile. We have three large bins in the back seat and one really large one in the trunk. No pickup truck, so we had to improvise by hauling it in bins.
Free wood chips, manure and leaves. What more could an organic and sustainable gardener want? Well, to get away from animal manure and produce our own green manure from living sources of vegetation that we plant. Next will be crop cover.
We have oats and clover. Probably too late to plant now, but in early spring I’ll give it a go.