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My small yard - Eastern Maryland

Posts: 67
Location: Eastern Shore, Maryland
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Greetings, permies. Last year I attempted to make a project log, but I never updated it. Things got crazy in late summer when I had my first child and even though I did a little bit more in the garden, I never kept my 'blog' updated. The link is here - https://permies.com/t/45814/projects/Permie-beginner-tight-budget-document

This year I have set a new goal - to update every week, hopefully twice a week. Given that it is still February, updates will come slow at first. But I need to keep motivated and more importantly - I really want the advice of everyone here. As I am still relatively new to gardening and I am constantly attempting new and adventurous things. I have never successfully grown a lot of crops I want to grow and so any little bit of advice and encouragement is welcome.

I suppose I should set out my goals for this garden:

- Keep it frugal. I do not have a lot of spare dosh.
- Focus on annuals. I know this runs counter to most permaculture ideals, but my yard is small and I need to generate some serious biomass for compost.
- Always build the soil - duh
- Try at least one biointensive bed
- Keep it in the ground. Raised beds simply cost too much for me to delve into.
- Keep an area of the yard free for my dog/child.
- Find a way to eliminate the bermuda grass. There is no harmony with this devil and it takes up about half my yard.

My battle strategy against the Bermuda grass (which goes 10 feet in every direction from my back patio) is to plant tall or very closely planted grains. Since the soil here is generally compacted/general "back yard" soil grains should do decent -at least for biomass accumulation.

Below is my yard as of this weekend. Most of the Bermuda grass is still dormant so it is easy to see. I also have 2 haybales (free) that I plan on planting into. They seem like they're half compost already.

Below is the first planting of the year. I planted hairy vetch and hulless oats after spending about an hour pulling up grass. Last year this was a sheet mulch bed with mostly tomatoes planted into it. The grass crept into the sides of the bed and it got away from me. The soil here was nice and loose - perfect for weeding.

Posts: 11802
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
cat forest garden fish trees chicken fiber arts wood heat greening the desert
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My advice would be to look at a lot of examples of urban permaculture, in which people are able to grow enormous amounts of food and beauty in tiny spaces. Even though I have acres, I find the urban examples more useful for my own set of challenges.

Here are some I like:






Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
forest garden urban
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I'm going to bring up my favorite gardening technique again. I'll warn you that it's not labor free, but it is a free resource that can work in many ways in the garden. Purchasing a comparable product to fill even some of the roles will quickly run into several hundred dollars. That's ramail wood chips.

Choose a spot on your property which can be accessed by a big vehicle which you would be willing to store organic matter in (or be able to do a whole lot of shoveling in a short span of time) Then, if you see an arborist with a chipper doing work anywhere near your home ask if they're looking for a dump site. Every few years the electrical company does mass trimming of all the trees near power lines, this can be a good resource.

The catch is that they bring a full dump truck load at a time. This gives you an opportunity, if you know where future garden beds will be, but you won't be planting them immediately. Bury the Bermuda grass under deep mulch. I'd use cardboard as a weed block under it, but if you'd rather just pile the chips deeper, it'll still work. Yes, you'll still have to weed the Bermuda, but it'll come out of the wood chips even more easily than healthy soil. By the end of a year you'll have a weed free patch of ground just waiting for you to start planting.

It's also a great material for covering paths. I like to dig a swale and then fill it in, doesn't compact the way soil does and you can feel the difference when walking on it.

When I'm potting up plants I like to put a layer of wood chips in the bottom of the pot. These seem to be the only potted plants that don't die on me.

And then of course there's also the regular mulching you can do with it. Personally, after a year of being used above ground as mulch I don't worry about stirring it into my soil. If you worry about it, Craigslist can be good resource for finding manure to turn this into a more balanced compost. Either find someone offering it, or post a request for anyone looking to get rid of some. Took less than 24 hours for us to get two offers, one for horse manure, one for chicken. Of course, this does involve more shoveling. I did warn you it took labor.
Dougan Nash
Posts: 67
Location: Eastern Shore, Maryland
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Casie - Thank you very much for the suggestion. I'll see how viable this is in the future.

Tyler - Thanks for the comment! Great stuff there.

Well it seems I have already broken my 'post once a week rule'. I guess I'll just have to make up for lost times. I managed to get some berry plants in the ground today and feel pretty good about it. They're just cuttings, but hey, that's all I can really afford. I'm very tempted to get some fruit trees as well, but I'm not sure if I should. I don't really want to wait another year to put them in, but I don't know if I can shell out the $50 right now. Maybe I'll take it from savings - it is an investment in my future after all. I also saw some hazelnut trees and I'm tempted by those as well.

Also, more good news, I am starting a new job in 2 weeks. I'm getting out of the office and back into the kitchen. This place I'm going to sources most of their food from local farms and has a big farm-to-table focus. They also have a 4,000 sq ft garden and I may get to play around in - super exciting!

I set up a mini greenhouse (xmas gift) and have kale, peas, chard, candy tuft, cukes, and radicchio going now. I'll start more in the next couple days. I really didn't want to start the summer veg too soon to avoid they being root-bound, but I may have done the spring veg a little late. We will see.

Also below are my blueberry cutting (+ the one I have from last year), gooseberry, and Jostaberry.

Better pictures to come once the things actually grow!
Dougan Nash
Posts: 67
Location: Eastern Shore, Maryland
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It's so wild to see how much my yard has changed in so little time. I am also slacking on updates, but here I go:

Had a lot of leftover compost so I mounded it up and covered with mulch. This will be home to squash.

Red Russian kale is flowering! So excited to gather seed.

Garlic and upland cress growing together - great for covering up those bald spots that garlic leaves.

Second year raspberry plant! I need to make this guy a proper trellis.


Emmer Wheat, mostly growing to get seeds

Extremely sad kale

Raised bed with carrots, lettuce, onion, peas, clover, lambs quarter, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, and eggplant!

First time growing lettuce, so excited

Raddicio, no idea what I'm doing with this guy

Future bed for corn, corn has sprouted, but is small. Block of plants in the middle is fava

More plants waiting their fate

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