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Toby - Incorporating Permaculture in a raised bed senior garden  RSS feed

 
Posts: 38
Location: Georgia, USA
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I am a 73 year old woman. I have been gardening most of my life. In the Winter of my life, I have discovered Permaculture. This Summer I started re-designing my garden to incorporate Permaculture principles and to also make it easier for me to keep on growing things when I get old! I have made 2 block high double raised 30" beds, with fallen wood in the bottoms. There are cart wide paths on each side with carpet to keep down weeds. The beds are sorta on contour going up a slope. In the hard to reach areas, I have planted strawberries, asparagus, comfrey and tree collards. Trying to get a lot of perennial vegetables. The beds are mulched with hay and chips. I plan to catch rain in the deep paths where it will soak into the wood in the bottom of the beds to keep the beds moist. I also incorporated a couple beds of beneficial insect plants, that please me with their flowers. The garden is not finished, but may be by Spring depending on my energy and the weather. I am attempting to chronical this construction on a fledging blog. www.steps2permaculture.com. I am not very tech savy. In fact I have tried to change some fonts in this post and have no idea how it will look!
Here are my problems. This is the only sunny spot I have and 6 - 8 inches down is severe hard pan. The raised beds will get my soil deeper. Is there anything that can be added to help soften the hard pan? It is like concrete and deep.
The second phase a bit higher on the slope. I want a mini food forest with fruit trees. I am going to follow the "Grow a Liitle Fruit Tree" book guide lines for pruning to have more choices in a smaller area. I will probably add a few chickens into this area. I do not have room to plant nitrogen fixing trees. Can you give me some ideas? I would like for it to be as self sufficient as possible. I will also fence it to keep out the deer.

Toby - I read "Gaia's Garden" years ago. It is underlined and dogeared and one of my favorite reference books. And I really enjoyed your talk at Permaculture Voices 1, as I remember you got a standing ovation. I am in Georgia, so it is not possible to attend some of your classes. 😞I will have to be content with books and podcasts. Thank you
 
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I do not have room to plant nitrogen fixing trees. Can you give me some ideas?


Crimson clover, planted in autumn. In your climate, it will flower in winter, and add nitrogen to the soil.
Then you can chop & drop it in the spring for a good nitrogen mulch/green manure.

 
Laura Johnson
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Location: Georgia, USA
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Good idea. I will scatter some seeds now before I finish the area. Then when I plant my fruit trees I will have more bio-mass.
Thanks
 
pollinator
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Laura Johnson wrote:
Here are my problems. This is the only sunny spot I have and 6 - 8 inches down is severe hard pan. The raised beds will get my soil deeper. Is there anything that can be added to help soften the hard pan? It is like concrete and deep.



My hard pan is 8-12" down, so I sympathize with what you are going through. I would try a combination of tillage radishes and earthworms to loosen it up. Tillage radish this time of year is about the most effective natural soil drill around, and if you let them rot for the earthworms to feed on, they will work the soil as well.

 
Laura Johnson
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I tired some Diakon radish once. They literally grew up out the of the ground. When I say concrete it really is! I will check out Tillage. Thanks
 
John Elliott
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Laura Johnson wrote:I tired some Diakon radish once. They literally grew up out the of the ground. When I say concrete it really is! I will check out Tillage. Thanks



They are really one and the same thing. But for every inch that daikon protrudes up out of the soil, its root system is going down a foot. I have pulled up a foot of daikon out of the clay after a heavy rain, and there was still quite a bit below where it broke off. Dandelions are another plant that can drill the heavy clay.
 
Laura Johnson
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Location: Georgia, USA
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That gives me hope. I will try again.
 
pollinator
Posts: 146
Location: Hilversum, Netherlands, urban, zone 7
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Hi Laura, I was just wondering how things are going? Did the suggestions work? Best of luck!
 
Laura Johnson
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Location: Georgia, USA
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Things are moving along. Lots of rain stopped the hardscaping this Winter. Then my husband's 2 1/2 months of kidney stone problems and complications stopped the Spring construction. 😁 I was able to run out and plant some things and get some things done. Right now, everything is planted - not all are growing yet. What is growing is lush and happy. Three hens now live happily in the garden, tilling, fertilizing and eating bugs. The food forest is growing, I am beginning to train the fruit trees. Winter squash is wandering around, artichokes and rhubarb are doing well. Lots of beneifical insect plants blooming. I only have one more bed to make and the paths to smooth and carpet. It is coming together somewhat like I hoped. As I went up the hill, it dictated a bit of a different plan.
I have had time to chronicle this project on my fledging blog. Pictures and everything. Visit and see all the warts. www.steps2permaculture.com
 
Shaz Jameson
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Posts: 146
Location: Hilversum, Netherlands, urban, zone 7
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Fabulous! Thanks for sharing Laura
 
Posts: 3
Location: California, East Bay United States
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Laura:

I find this thread VERY encouraging. Please keep us updated. I am 55 and planning for this phase of my life with a relatively new plot of land. I look forward to learning from your experience. I am in California and my land is in the Sierra foothills.
 
Laura Johnson
Posts: 38
Location: Georgia, USA
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Theresa
It's a fact - if you live long enough - you get OLD.😊 We need to plan our gardens and land accordingly. Perennial plantings, groundcover, mulch and really raised beds are your friend!. Love my Huglekulture beds. I will be so glad when my new design construction phase is finished. Then I will become a "hunter gatherer". Also a planter, and weeder.😀
www.steps2permaculture.com
 
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