Hey guys! I'm getting into permaculture lately and have been wondering about a garden idea. Let me lay it out for you and let me know if it seems plausible.
- I want to set up a raised bed (box) indoors under grow lights. I want to try to companion plant as much as possible with my main crop being heirloom beefsteak tomatoes which want heavy nutrients.
- I'm thinking about using comfrey as the dynamic accumulator for iron and calcium and also to have the leaves as mulch.
- I want to grow fava beans to fix nitrogen and because I love fava greens.
- Lemon Balm for phosphorus.
- I want to plant all of this in a raised bed 1.5 feet deep and maybe 4 ft x 10 ft.
- I will use 100% homemade organic compost and maybe even some worm casings for the raised bed fill.
- I am thinking about mixing in woodchips to hold water but I am unsure about it.
- I am also thinking about innoculating some mushrooms into the mix as well because I have been reading the are good for the soil though I don't know much about mushrooms.
How do you think this would play out? Am I trying to do too much in an indoor raised bed? Thoughts?
I get that this is energy intensive and against a lot of permaculture principles but I don't have the land available right now to try it outside. Ideally, I would be doing it on a hugel mound outside with an even bigger polyculture going, but it isn't possible... Yet!
Maybe I'm just getting over excited, but I thought I would start experimenting with things so I would be better prepared for when I can take my work outside.
It's great to know that comfrey couldn't create nutrients without the option to root deep. I didn't even think about it, but it seems obvious now. You don't think comfrey would serve any role in a box garden then? Does that also means that companion planting pretty much isn't possible indoors? Would the favas still fix nitrogen?
What percentage of compost would you recommend the soil be made of?
Also, any thoughts on adding mushrooms to the polyculture?
Again, thanks for pointing out my noobish errors and educating me a bit.
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
It is an interesting question, how container polycultures would work. I am a big fan of comfrey and you could certainly use it for mulch.
When using a closed system like an indoor grow-light garden you control everything (light, moisture, air flow, etc) and so you are responsible for all these. I would be concerned about mold being a problem, so perhaps inoculating a system with beneficial mushrooms would be helpful.
I haven't done any indie growing with grow lights, I hardly even start plants indoors in the spring anymore, I just stick seeds in the dirt when it warms up a bit.
Where are you located? Have you got some good windows? Perhaps there is a community garden you could join, or there are permies in your community who would let you get your hands dirty. Building community is really important to my success here.I have gotten so much knowledge and shared so many resources. If your community doesn't have a garden, you could help start one. The main one in my town is on town land but there are also a couple at churches. A couple of motivated people with a plan can do a lot. There may be a plot out there for you.
I think you would be better off spending the time researching and learning every single aspect of what it means to build and maintain a proper permaculture, than to fire up indoor grow lights... Learn to store the crops you produce so they remain viable through the winter and into the next growing season. Design your future system by strategizing. Ask a million questions. Don't spend pointless money on a high electricity bill.
Thanks guys! You have helped me realize that I don't want to grow indoor at all. I want to incorporate permaculture aspects so that nutrients are in natures control so why the hell would I put it in a place where I have to control everything else? It doesn't make sense.
I'll look into community gardens because that seems like a great place to start.
You sound like you are currently living in the city; and, possibly in a condo or an apartment. Study the grounds you live on. Devise a plan that is attractive and incorporate polyculture concepts for the area. Present it to the board or manager. Most places are open to free work and attractive upgrades. Check out the city meridians and the like, for adding plants to...may flourish or the landscapers could rip them out. Some people try this as a stealth tactic...others go full bore and clearly design a real garden that is obvious; either strategy could work.
Action Helps...One Soul with Courage is a Majority. Success is a Journey, not a Destination See the Reaching! A Pessimist Sees the Difficulty in Every Opportunity...an Optimist Sees the Opportunity in Every Difficulty! -Whispers of Eden
Either way, I'd set up a worm bin and maybe even look into bokashi composting. They are fun to do and it can't hurt to start composting the food scraps you already use. You can run the finished bokashi through a worm bin to get castings more quickly. Then top dress some window sill herbs with it. I use a system with two 5 gallon bucks for bokashi.. Don't buy the "bokashi buckets" - total waste of money.
Companion Planting Guide by World Permaculture Association