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Remote watermelon patch / pumpkin patch with no access to water

Nick LaDieu
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First off I am new to the forum and just wanted to share my first experiment that I have tried after reading about permaculture for a little bit. My rough idea of what can qualify as permaculture is working with your existing stuff to produce outputs with as little inputs as possible and without busting your but doing a ton of maintenance.

I realize that definition isn't official, but this is what more or less I used to set the parameters for my project.

The wife has been asking me to put in a pumpkin patch / watermelon patch but my good sunny spot is probably 200 yards from my house.. all the sunny spots near the house are already cultivated.

So I wanted to come up with a solution that was going to be

  • Weed Free
  • Didn't want to remove grass or do much of any soil prep
  • Water Free (no need to haul water out there)
  • No heavy equipment or lots of labor involved in setting it up
  • entire project needed to be completed in a few hours (i'm a busy beaver)

  • I had a large sheet of black plastic in my shed. (12 x 25 maybe?)

    I laid out that sheet on the ground and cut out 3 large holes roughly equidistant with a pocket knife. I would say they are probably 3' in diameter.

    I then removed the grass from these spots with a simple shovel.

    Now I removed the plastic and started working with the area.

    I used the removed dirt/sod to firm a birm on the downhill side of each hole and forming a semi circle up around the hole. I was inspired to do this based upon reading about "swails" which seem to be a popular topic in these and other permaculture forums.

    I then filled the holes with compost until they were no longer holes but hills.

    At this point i then dug out an additional moat around the inside of the birm and in front of the hill. If I wanted to get more ambitious I could have dug a mini-swail system to further syphon water to the moats.. but as is I decided the moats and hills were enough. Perhaps in a more arid climate.

    I then put the black plastic back over my hills and weighted it down with random rocks and scraps of concrete i had laying around. The plastic goes the whole way over the birm and into the moat. When it rains the water pools in there and soaks into my compost hills.

    On the top I simply put generous servings of grass clippings.

    I plant 4 to 6 plants in each hill including peppers, watermelons, cucumbers, and pumpkins. The vines spread out in a sun pattern over the black plastic. The only maintenance I do is move the vines back into the garden whenever I mow the lawn. They are always growing like 4 feet into the grass... they just keep going!!

    All of the plants are doing very well and the entire garden took me about 2 hours to put together on a week night.

    I hope this is interesting for people who need quick solutions for remote areas. Since I used black plastic I would only recommend this for plants that like warm soil.

    As far as fertilization goes I used rock dust and I sprayed them down with some rotten fish stuff I have. (aggrand brand) and of course the generous amount of black gold they were placed in.

    Here are a few photos. I wish i had taken more of the setup.. but you can at least see the results....

    Scott Stiller
    Posts: 278
    Location: North Carolina zone 7
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    Nice looking patch Nick.
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