Permaculture Garden: Step One
2009/05/02 1 Comment
I grow plenty of things in our front yard, but only a couple of them are food items and I really want to ramp up operations! It’s time to get this organic food garden going in a big way!
In our desert climate the summer heat dries out the soil quickly. This means that when planning a garden here raised beds are not a good idea. Here in the desert we need to take steps to retain water and prevent as much evaporation. If you think about it water rolls downhill, so sunken beds are far better than raised ones! To create a sunken bed you could dig a big sunken bed out of our hard desert earth, but you can accomplish the same thing by instead raising the land around it. Do just a little digging, and use that earth to raise the path that surrounds the bed. You can incline the earth so that our rare rains will gully off your raised path right to where they are needed: your precious plants!
In order to transform our backyard into a good food producing space a number of things need to happen. First, our backyard is currently play space for our dogs. The few small things that have been planted back there have been immediately dug up and played with or eaten. So, Job One is to separate the backyard into plant area and dog area, and a modified raised path as discussed a moment ago might make an effective deterrent for two elderly dogs. A column on our back porch and deck made a convenient dividing point, so I marked that out as the start of a raised path. To the right of it I started a sprinkler to moisten the hard caliche soil. After a while I went out and spent a couple of hours digging this 40′ trench, using the soil to build an earthen mound to the left. That earth will be used to create the raised walkway.
The rest of the grass seen to the right will also be removed and will be used to create additional walkways. This will leave us a wonderful sunken bed.
Next step: making sure the soil is healthy enough to support plants.