Hello, hopefully this is the right place for these questions.
I have a bit of experience with gardening, done quite a bit of reading too on subjects like permaculture (One Straw Revolution for instance...), and Bio-Intensive gardening. I am interested one day in growing a food forest, and maybe even build something like Sepp Holzer, with basically a mountain for myself.
I am far from that. So far, I've been able to grow a variety of crops like mustard, radish, carrots, some aromatics as well as some medicinal herbs and oyster mushrroms. I scratched the surface of bio-intensive gardening, but haven't applied all of the principles. I am about to rent a small flat, with a decent sized garden of about 300 sq feet. Now, this mean I won't be able to start an orchard, nor have animals, nor have a real food forest, However as I'm still quite a beginner, I'll be able to learn a lot of the basics.
I want to grow foods, aromatics, medicinals and mushrooms from this area, but at the same time improve the soil quality and the overall health of that garden. I also want to start composting, collect rain water or at least reuse the water I'll use from cooking or cleaning specific things. I won't be able to live of such a small amount of land (and there's also a few trees and bushes in that space already), but it'll be a start to one day reach that goal; I might leave this place in 3 years or so for, hopefully, something bigger. I'll try to stick to these two ways of farming, namely, permaculture and bio-intensive farming.
So, which tools will be needed for the job ? And for the things I'm planning, what should I look out for ?
So far, I've come up a few things that I'll definitely need. Watering can, wheelbarrow, u-bar, rake, shovel, shear, something to cut the grass and reuse it, a scythe, mulch... but since I'm also starting a new job in a few weeks, I don't have a lot of money to spare yet, so I really want to know if those will cover my needs, at least initially.
I use a modified form of Biointensive. My tools are shovel, broad-fork (u-bar), rake, small pruning shears, trowel, small hand rake thingy, watering can, hardware cloth to sift soil with, and lots of 5 gallon buckets.
I don't double-dig. Instead, I dug out all the rocks from the very rocky clay soil in my kitchen garden and replaced them with rotten wood (buried wood beds). Instead of making compost heaps I've mostly used trench and pit composting, and fertilize with worm castings, black soldier fly waste, and anaerobic compost tea.
My garden is grown as a polyculture, and I have recently introduced Moringa trees within the garden to provide filtered shade and food.
That's a few more things for me to try. The double digging I did once (one bed !) took a bit of time; so you basically just dug in the soil some branches ? Do you only use plants with shallow roots then, or still some that would go deeper into the soil ?
Since you're doing bio-intensive, even if it's modified, how do you deal with aromatics and medecinals ? The information on bio-intensive talks about compost crops, vitamins crops and calories crops, but surely there are plants that will stay in beds, they can't all be entirely harvested. Should they be a part of existing beds, be in beds of their own ? I didn't see then mentioned despite being able to attract or repel insects, they could be a nice addition to a bed, but there might be a reason they are not mentioned, at least in the books I've read.
I dug the soil and rocks from trenches down to 18-24 inches and laid old logs in the trenches, then covered with 4-6 inches of sifted soil. If I had been able to add compost at that time it would have been good, but for some of the trenches I added leaf mould to the sifted soil. In some parts of the garden I didn't cover the logs with enough soil and it attracted mice who liked to live in the spaces. Snakes followed and eventually everything calmed down and settled. Adding the wood really improved the ability of the garden to hold water, though I still have to irrigate during dry and/or hot periods (like today 100F). I think the deeper-rooted plants are going right down into the rotten wood.
I plant herbs and flowers throughout the garden, mostly putting them at the ends or edges of beds or in small beds of their own.
As far as calorie crops, a large part of my current Kitchen Garden is planted to Sweet Potato, which I have been harvesting for greens but which I hope will provide some roots as well. The big problem with calorie crops is that they tend to take up a huge amount of space, so I feel if space is limited, one may benefit more from concentrating on nutrition crops such as leafy greens and fruits. Next year I hope to have a large "Main Crop Garden" in which I plant more calorie crops. This year part of that space grew Flour Corn and Winter Squash under low-water conditions. The Corn was a success but not the Winter Squash. Winter Squash isn't a good calorie crop because it doesn't have enough calories per pound but we like to eat it.
I'm also growing some experimental calorie crops in the Kitchen Garden such as Temperate and Tropical Yams, and Groundnuts (Apios americana), and in tubs Taro, Chinese Water Chestnut, and Edible Canna.
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