I was introduced to Permaculture a little more than a year ago and every day I am more convinced that it is through Permaculture that we will be able to change this world for the good of EVERYONE!
I am writing this because I need some help with gardening and growing food in raised beds. I live in a big city (Lima, Perú), and I don’t have lots of money to spare, since I’m still going through college and not 100% economically independent yet (mother still help with money). Because of this reasons (and time reasons also), the only thing that I have managed to get going, permaculture wise, this last year, is experimenting with a few plants in containers and some worm composting via a handmade worm composting flow through bin. However this changed like about a month ago, a close friend of mine had some spare space on a 4th floor balcony and we have built a 10m2 raised bed, Its about 40 cm (15.7 inches) high, but it’s not filled all the way up, just like 4/5ths of the way (we didn’t have enough money to fill it hehe). We don’t have a wide variety of materials to fill it with, so we used about 1/3 worm compost made out of manure (I think they use cow manure), 1/3 “tierra de chacra” wich is just soil from rural areas surrounding the city and the remaining 3rd is comprised of sawdust and peat moss (more sawdust than peat moss due to price). The proportions I just mentioned are not 100% accurate though. We are going to use drip irrigation to water using gravity and an open tank with a roof filled with tap water so that chlorine in the water will evaporate.
Now comes the fun part. I need advice as to what, where and when to plant given my location, we are really close to the equator, but have strange weather conditions due to the Andes and the Humboldt current (for example, Lima city is pretty much completely cloudy from April through October. Humidity is very high also) so I was wondering how would that change things, because pretty much all the information out there that I managed to find is made for temperate climates. Maybe you guys could also give me some feedback regarding our progress with the raised bed so far, like easy to find amendments for the soil or watering or what type of mulch to use, point out our mistakes and stuff like that. What are “Must read” books or resources that you recommend for gardening and growing vegetables and greens or plants in general, I was thinking of using square foot gardening, do you recommend it? I hope some of you guys will find some spare time to help and point me in the right directions.
Thanks to everyone in advance,
I do lasagna raised beds. You can collect dried leaves, grass clippings, a hay bale, or staw and layer these on. Never use more than 1 inch thick of green or dried grass so it wont get slimey. Save some of your best planting mix to put one or two inches on top. Put your seeds into this or your plant starts which ever you do. Two inches of the others under. It will compost by itself in the bed over the season. Look up lasagna gardening on youtube there are lots of videos on it
a good additive that all plants like is epson salts... magnesium, which you should be able to purchase in a pharmacy or food store. Sprinkle it on when you plant and then again about half way through the season. Magesium tends to leach down so two or three applications are ok. Just sprinkle, dont coat the top.
Make some manuer tea or compost tea in a 5 gallon bucket to fertilize with.
Fertilize with diluted human urine.. about one quart per gallon for the whole bed. . Im not kidding. It wont stink. I promise.
cabbage and broccoli take up a lot of room. I prefer cabbage because I get more product than borccoli for the space it takes.
plant some large leaf basil for raw salads and for cooking. I also dry some for the winter.
You can plant potatoes well in a 5 gallon bucket. Fill the bucket 20% full. When the greens come up put more soil in and to almost cover the greens. your buckt should be maybe 1/3 full or so. Let them grow up again. and cover again when they are about 8 inches tall. repeat until the bucket is full. Do you get frost there? Only harvest after the greens have been killed by frost for that is when your potatos will get bigger.
I dont really know your climate there but bloomingdale long standing spinach will tolerate heat and cool weather pretty well and it will last a long time.
Plant foods you enjoy. I like beets becasue first you can harvest the greens for salads or soups and stew then later you can harvest the beet... just remember the more leaves you harvest the smaller the beet will be.
i read once of a woman who gathered soil from gutters..with all the toxins there are now I doubt if that is a great idea..but you could carry bags with you when you leave the area and try to bring back soil, or composting matierals in bags ..just small bags if that is all you can carry.. on your trips away from the building.
as for what to grow there I'm not familiar..but I would grow things that I am buying at the sore..say a grapevine, some salads, etc.. Gaia's garden and Sepp Holtzers boooks ahve some good advice in them
Bloom where you are planted.
To figure out what to grow, figure out what local foods you like to eat, and go from there. I can only guess. Some foods that we might have in common: corn, asparagus (eventually), potato, avocado, tomato... The Andes foods that I know nothing about: masua, maca, oca, olluco, yacon, yuca,... Whatever it is that you like, google it to find out it's strengths and weaknesses. Then pair up a second or third plant that can strengthen it's weaknesses.
Thanks for the help guys! I'll definitely use the fertilization techniques you mentioned Arrow, as for the lasagna I guess I'll have to wait for next season or my next bed hehe. Since my bed is allready full though, will it be okay if I just add worm compost whenever needed and keep it mulched?