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I'm going Permie - What can I do during Year 1?  RSS feed

 
Steve Hitchen
Posts: 30
Location: Yorksire - North England
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Hello all.

I'm not a beginner at gardening, but I am a beginner at permaculture, so I wanted to ask some questions in here if thats OK?

I have a 100 foot x 30 foot garden. Underneath the garden there is 8 foot of pure sand. PURE sand. Over that, I have between 6 inches and 1 foot of ... weird.... top soil. It drains fast, crazily fast. You can hear sucking noises....

It's officially a "silty sand", and so in theory should be good for growing. However, the previous owners negelected the garden for about 30 years and is has no content, so all it does is dry at the drop of a hat, form a hard shell and then no water gets in. In all the time I have been digging I have found a total of three worms. The soil is DEAD. Anything I plant goes into holes filled with compost. Most stuff grows, some doesn't - I have had 11 holly plants die, and more than 60 black eyed susans have died from three batches - they just die within 24 hours. Apart from that, what does grow goes slowly.... for example, daffoldils have been out for a week over my entire town, and mine are only half grown.

Anywho... time for a change. I came across the Permaculture world and like the dynamical aspect of it, so I am going to go for it.

I have sourced pretty much unlimited free horse manure - well rotted, and unlimited wood chips. So I am planning to go Back to Eden on the whole thing and put in a 4 inch mulch of horse manure an then a 6 inch mulch of wood chip.

Question 1 - I have some bulbs in the garden - is it safe to assume I won't see them again due to the 10 inch mulch?
Question 2 - I have some shrubs I want to keep - buddlia, red currents, brooms etc... Can I just multch around these guys, or do I need to lift them, mulch and then replant in the mulch?

Next question - what can I grow in the first year? I understand that woodchip can take a couple of years to become viable - so in year 1 do I need to stick to shrubs veg and climbers? I.e I'm assuming I can't sow seed in year 1?

Worms: Given that I have essentially zero worms, is this process actually going to work at all?

Also - ponds. I want a pond - also on the list for this year, with a bog/swamp area. Do you think I should lay this in first, raise it by 10 inches, and them mulch? Or do I mulch, dig the pond and then just use rain overflow as a boggy area in the mulch?


Any other comments/critisisms/insults/high fives most gratefully recieved.

Many thanks

Steve
 
candace ctaylor
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Hi. That sounds like quite a challenging plot of land! Do you by chance have access to other types of organic matter, such as leaves, grass clippings, straw, etc.? If I were in your shoes and had these things available, in addition to the manure and wood chips, I think I would try a modified "lasagna" type of soil building. Rather than top off your garden bed with the chips, how about digging the chips into the shallow/sandy soil first. Maybe even make trenches filled with chips and cover them over with soil. They would slowly break down, provide some aeration, and hold some moisture. Next, I would put down layers of whatever else you could get your hands on. I've had good success with grass clippings and leaves. The manure would be excellent. They break down quickly, and you can put in pockets of good soil and compost for the individual plants or smaller beds. A good layer of straw on top of that would finish it nicely and hold in moisture. By the time your new plants stretch out their roots into the surrounding area, the layers will have broken down some, and will be on the way to good soil. All these things will attract earthworms, who would churn the soil and mix everything together for you eventually. You're right - It will take a few years to get good soil. I've used this method on my garden the last 4 years, and the soil and produce quality has gotten much better each year. My soil is very dense silt loam that was grass lawn for 70 years before we bought it. I built raised beds using "lasagna" layers, and am planning a hugelkultur bed this spring. The addition of organic matter has improved drainage, which was horrible. Also, I have so many earthworms now I hate to do much digging! Sorry I don't know answers to your other questions about shrubs, bulbs, and pond, etc. Hopefully someone else will help you on those. Good luck.
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
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Here' a good picture of what cadance is describing. Another term for this is bombproof sheet mulching.



Exploring the Plants For a Future website might help you find plants that will work in your area. I suggest looking at maybe plants that would grow near the sea. These might be better able to handle fast-draining soil.

I think Seabuckthorn might be able to withstand your growing conditions. black locust might be an option for soil building.
 
Hester Winterbourne
Posts: 219
Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b)
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Hi Dave! I'm in Staffordshire. Is there ANYTHING actually managing to grow on your plot which could give us a clue to what else might cope? Would love to see pictures. Rosa rugosa's natural home is supposedly sand dunes, maybe that would be a start. I am a conservation adviser for my sins; I recently visited an ex silica sand quarry site being restored, will try and cast my mind back to what was succeeding there!

Oh sorry yes you said some shrubs. Broom was one thing that sprang to mind from the quarry. Would still like to see pics!
 
Hester Winterbourne
Posts: 219
Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b)
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Specifically about the pond, I would leave an area not mulched where the pond goes. There are all sorts of different ponds, but the runoff from manure and woodchip is not going to be a recipe for an attractively wildlife friendly one. Bare sandy ground however would add to the mosaic of habitats available. A rocky margin/corridor leading to shadier places with shrubs would add a cool approach route for amphibians.
 
Hester Winterbourne
Posts: 219
Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b)
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Hester Winterbourne wrote:Hi Dave (who's Dave?? Steve!!)! I'm in Staffordshire. Is there ANYTHING actually managing to grow on your plot which could give us a clue to what else might cope? Would love to see pictures. Rosa rugosa's natural home is supposedly sand dunes, maybe that would be a start. I am a conservation adviser for my sins; I recently visited an ex silica sand quarry site being restored, will try and cast my mind back to what was succeeding there!

Oh sorry yes you said some shrubs. Broom was one thing that sprang to mind from the quarry. Would still like to see pics!
 
And now I present magical permaculture hypno cards. The idea is to give them to people that think all your permaculture babble is crazy talk. And be amazed as they apologize for the past derision, and beg you for your permaculture wisdom. If only there were some sort of consumer based event coming where you could have an excuse to slip them a deck ... richsoil.com/cards
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