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Ashley's GAMCOD Blog Thread

 
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Posts: 1958
Location: British Columbia
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Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself but I'm trying to find my GAMCOD location on my property. I thought I would share in case there is some feedback or it sparks more questions about guidelines for the land requirement.

Site #1 - The "Back 40"

This would be my first choice for a location. It is grassy but it it a total dessert in the Summer. It's very much dirt, very little organic matter. It's pretty much a fine layer of sandy soil on top of gravel and more sand. Currently used for storing firewood and parking equipment

Pros:
It has enough room that 200 sq feet could be easily placed in this area so it didn't interfere with current use.
Not actually my land. Technically crown land. So I don't pay taxes on it so I believe that falls under "freaky cheap".
Close enough to use our irrigation system with some effort.
Has some shade from wild saskatoons.

Cons
Not actually my land. Technically crown land. I don't think there is any issue growing a garden here but I guess I risk being told to "stop". Most people assume it's our property.
Not within our fencing, therefore currently exposed to deer and other critters.
Will take some effort to get water to this area.
Hot hot hot in the Summer
Full of spotted knapweed, cinqfoil, and blueweed



Site #2 - "Shady acres"

This is usually where we set up a hammock in the summer. A mountain ash and box elder provide shade here. This area is lawn. It has received some irrigation as it is close to some of our fruit trees. This area has some soil but it still mostly dirt on gravel (such is the story of our property). Much denser grasses. Chickens did once roam in this area.

Pros:
Within our fencing
Easy access to out current irrigation system
More like lawn than dirt

Cons
More like lawn than dirt
An area that is close to established fruit trees that I do actively manage the soil in that area
More "in the way" on our property.



Site # 3 - "The Back Corner"

This zone is very shady. The tree is a large box elder. This zone has less grass as it has been ripped up by chickens in the past.

Pros:
Shade from mid-day sun in Summer
Easy access to current irrigation system
Out of the way on the property
Within fencing

Cons
Maybe to shaded by the tree
Lots of roots in this area
I was thinking of building a Summer chicken coop in this zone already
Maybe cheating because this area has been used by chickens (They loved dusting here)?



Site #4 - "The Rock Garden"

This area is right next to our home. This area was totally ripped up to work on our septic tank (which access to is right below the planter box). As you can see this spot is now a gravel pit. and even before we had done any work this spot was basically pineapple weed.

Pros:
Within the fencing
Could use the side of the house for vertical growth and to trap heat
An area I already wanted to work on reclaiming
Easy access to irrigation/materials (right next to the greenhouse)
Easy access to pee on it!

Cons
Hot hot hot in the Summer! Hottest spot on the property except maybe in the greenhouse itself.
Not a lot of wiggle room. 200 sq feet might have to be in two patches.
Seriously it's just gravel! Lot's of compaction from foot traffic



Site #5 - "The Ditch"

Again, not technically our property but I doubt anyone would say boo about it. Similar to "the Back 40" as it is dirt on gravel covered in cinqfoil. Our hedge and the bank do provide some shade. Terrible "soil".  

Pros:
An area I'd like to establish more flowering plants in the future
Lot's of space
Some natural shade

Cons
Hard to access irrigation
Harder to access on foot
Close to the road so not sure if the is any "gick" from run off



Thanks for any feedback!






 
master gardener
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I have spent some time rolling around your potential sites in my mind, and only have a few comments that I could muster up.

My preference if I was there would be between #1 and #4. What separates which one I would pull the trigger on would come down to personal preference in the approach I would want to take in growing.

#1 The Back 40

You have room to wiggle around and customize the size of your garden. This might be an advantage depending on what and how you want to grow things. It also gives you some forgiveness in case you start digging and realize you are on top of a gravel/stone/other pit of some sort. The storing firewood and equipment might lead to some compaction but once again, you have some wiggle room there.

#4 The Rock Garden

This would be my goal if I had this property. I love challenges and tricky spaces. If you pick this one like you said, you are going to have a tight spot to work with. You just gotta deal with it. But on the flip side, imagine the before and after pictures! If you could make it succeed, you could have one of those kind of house-flipper reveals of how an area transformed which would be amazing. There is nothing saying you have to keep it an annual vegetable garden AFTER the video, but it would be a great excuse to improve the dirt/rocks into soil for future projects. My first gardens in the front and back of my house have been the first 'beautification' projects for my house and I do not regret it. I don't know if you have gutters or if the water comes off your roof onto that ground, but I'd sift the rock from the dirt and create about a foot top layer of rock from the foundation out, and then make the garden from that point further out. This will prevent working right up against your foundation and give some erosion protection from roof drips. This then can passively water your garden. You might want to consider the root systems of things if you are near the septic lines just in case there are already cracks but I have managed to plant a garden in the area of my septic without ill effects.

I'm hyped for your garden, I'll be cheerleading for you from NY!
 
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I agree with #4.  With the goal of motivating new gardeners to try it presents a case that is common for new land owners.  Demonstrating what can be done i.n such a case is what may give motivation to try.   I would consider the other sites as excellent ghost acres to feed the project especially areas that technically are not yours but you are expected to maintain can be a resource to successful gardening.  in my case for example a paved swale is required where my drive way but the  road sweeper fills it with leaves which get transferred to cover the bulb beds for the winter.  It is that kind of permaculture thinking we want to teach.
 
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Four looks good to me, I think that’s what I would choose.  

I’m interested in the heat situation.  In my region the heat might mean too hot, is that your context?  Or is that praise?

I will be interested to see if the crops reduce the heat, and if reflected light might be too much, how about a row of tall sunflowers at the back?

I am very interested to see what you do in your plot, and how early you can start.
 
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I'm with Timothy, I love a challenge. My choice would be the Rock Garden first, Back 40 second. Whichever way you end up going, good luck! I can't wait to see your progress/struggles/triumphs.

j
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Four looks good to me, I think that’s what I would choose.  

I’m interested in the heat situation.  In my region the heat might mean too hot, is that your context?  Or is that praise?

I will be interested to see if the crops reduce the heat, and if reflected light might be too much, how about a row of tall sunflowers at the back?

I am very interested to see what you do in your plot, and how early you can start.



Yes, it would be on the too hot side of things. It faces South and reflects heat from the house. I would definitely need to be on my A-game for watering in peak Summer. Hopefully I would be able to establish some larger, broad leaf plants to shade tasty things underneath.  

Sunflowers grow well here, that's a good idea! I forgot how many calories those can pack too!

It seems like everyone so far has liked #4 The Rock Garden! I'm keen as it's so easy to access. I can pop outside while the baby is napping, my baby monitor doesn't reach to site #1!

I'm guessing I can direct seed in April with cold hardy stuff.
Staff note (Hans Quistorff) :

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    #4 has my vote because of its location.  It is in your zone 1. That means that you will be passing by it very often so it will be easy to give it the attention it may require.
    Starting a new garden anywhere requires a lot of attention the first year.  With it being located close to your house you can use those odd minutes to improve upon it. Whether it's 5 minutes weeding or 10 minutes reworking a trellis you will be able to get it done while you're cooking waiting a few minutes for a sunset because of the location being right next to your house.
    Also,  consider using a small part of it like a kitchen garden.  Many leafy plants will get "bushy" if you start picking the leaves off of them.
    Don't be afraid to plant various types of beans.  Many types will keep producing if you grab a couple of handfuls for each meal.  Again,  since it's right outside your house door it will only take a moment.
    I wish you the very best. Sincerely,  Jeff
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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Thanks everyone! I'm going with site #4! I will hopefully mark it out later today and have some photos up soon!
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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Can someone check my math?

To get a semi-circle that is 200 square feet it would need a radius of 11.28 feet?
 
master gardener
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Ashley Cottonwood wrote:Can someone check my math?

To get a semi-circle that is 200 square feet it would need a radius of 11.28 feet?


Yup, that's what I get too!

Making us use pi-r-squared on Pi Day is clever!
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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Christopher Weeks wrote:

Ashley Cottonwood wrote:Can someone check my math?

To get a semi-circle that is 200 square feet it would need a radius of 11.28 feet?


Yup, that's what I get too!

Making us use pi-r-squared on Pi Day is clever!




Ooooohhhh I didn't even clock that!
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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Unfortunately, I'm going to have to go back to Zone #1, there just isn't enough space in the rock garden without inhibiting normal paths through the yard. I originally thought I could do two chuncks on either side of the gate but that is a no-go with GAMCOD rules.
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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So excited! My neighbour came today to dig a trench for the hugel for the new GAMCOD garden!

I decided to go with a hugel because I've always wanted one on our property and it will act as a berm on that side of our property. Our other neighbor already had asked for our help taking down some dead trees on his property; perfect hugel filler!

The bucket on the backhoe is 4 feet wide, perfect for making a trench 4ft x 50 ft!



 
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Oh my! I hope you got some good video! That's awesome!
Is that the area you thought might be a bit shady? The topsoil looks dark but shallow.
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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Yes! I did get some video!

This spot get ample sun, it is south facing with not a lot of tree coverage. This area I will have to set up deer fencing.

Yes, the top layer has some organic materials. I'm going to do a mason jar test later.

Yes, the bottom layer is "calcium gravel" according to the back hoe operator. He calls is "nature's concrete" and it's absolutely brutal. He says it doesn't even let water through so could be interesting for the hugel.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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How deep is your trench?

Is the calcium a solid sheet, or in fragments?  Any indication how thick that layer is?  If it is solid, I would be tempted to try to drill holes in it, unless it’s bedrock!  “Starter cracks” would allow acidic compounds to dissolve it and deepen the topsoil, allow the fungi to mine it for plant needs.

I find it so exciting when something unusual or unexpected occurs or is discovered!  I am filled with ideas & theories and possibilities.  The potential at the start is pure joy to me!
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:How deep is your trench?

Is the calcium a solid sheet, or in fragments?  Any indication how thick that layer is?  If it is solid, I would be tempted to try to drill holes in it, unless it’s bedrock!  “Starter cracks” would allow acidic compounds to dissolve it and deepen the topsoil, allow the fungi to mine it for plant needs.

I find it so exciting when something unusual or unexpected occurs or is discovered!  I am filled with ideas & theories and possibilities.  The potential at the start is pure joy to me!



It's a solid sheet, it seems to cover most of the area in my little community. I'll have to take some pictures for you!

The trench is about 2 feet down.

I'm wondering if roots would be able to penetrate? I have lots of fruit trees but perhaps their root systems are more lateral than I thought. Or maybye adding some taproot species to the Hugel to see if they penetrate.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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About the root penetration,  I dunno for sure.  I know when the mycorrhizae find a rock that contains the minerals needed, they are able to exude compounds to dissolve rock.

This whole business of soil food web, and the under ground community is VERY NEW!  It's all open to conjecture.  That's how "science" moves forward.  Like a snail or glacier, only a little at a time.  People make theories, take action based on those theories and see what happens.  Eventually evidence piles up, and someone designs a formal study where variables are measured and outcomes are documented, and scientifically validated.

What I concluded as a science graduate student in the 70's:  to "science" nothing is real until it has been measured... (and this is an important attribute of the scientific process, IMO.)  And nothing is measured until people believe it exists.  Then they have to design experiments and instruments to quantify.  
and ISN'T IT FUN?  That's where we are now in the benefits of live roots in the soil, and mycorrhizea and so forth.  Creating evidence...

So, why not proceed as if roots can dissolve and or penetrate a layer of calcium rich stone?

And if some of the calcium does get released, wouldn't that be a great place for tomatoes.  No blossom end rot there!  (Unless maybe it's not calcium, or calcium isn't the only piece to the blossom end rot puzzle.
 
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