Spring is a ways off, but I really want to get a jump start on planning things. I'm excited to have all the space to work with, but feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed too, so I'd gladly accept all suggestions about what to plant, what techniques to use, etc. I'm planning to grow a lot of annual veggies, but also want to experiment with perennial veggies, herbs and flowers. At least the ones that don't take too long to start producing. Although, I don't mind leaving some things behind for the next renters. I'd like to improve the drainage where I can (raised beds maybe?) but also figure out what to grow that likes the current soggy soil. I'd be interested to hear if I should try to produce any food in the wetland area. Maybe try some wapato (if I can find it), lotus root, or others. Or, maybe it's best just to leave that area for wildlife, as I have plenty of space without it.
First you need to identify the best opportunities for permaculture.
Make a list of the best ideas and just go down it.
I would talk to neighbors, previous owners and local folks.
Show this group some photos.
It is hard to visualize from your description.
I sounds like you have some good work to build on already.
Go for it.
If drainage is so poor it would be good to try to find out why, if it is the natural condition of the property you could consider it to become wildlife, like you said, if the need is not there. If it is not the natural state of the place find out why.
there is a considerable chance that it is due to compaction of the soil. If soil is walked on a lot, or heavy equipment drove over it (to construct a house for example) underlayers of the soil can become compacted, leaving you with very poor drainage.
Breaking it open (a one time, never again digging), could help heaps. Digging out paths so you allow acces to every bed without having to walk on them (the distance to the middle of a bed not longer than your arm), and heaping up the soil you take out of the paths, on top of the beds is a good start.
Deep mulching or some other ground prep now (avoid machine tillage in wet ground) may save you breaking sod for summer annual veggies.
You roof might be generating 1000 gallons of runoff in a heavy rain... I wonder if the direction your downspouts are pointing has something to do with your wet spot.
Paul Cereghino wrote:
These here hills are mighty soggy right about now. Things might dry out quite a bit. A fun challange depending on your experience would be to learn the names of plants already growing on site. Many of them may indicate how wet your site is year round... something you might not be able to discern looking at water on the ground in a Maritime NW December.
I don't know all the native plants on the property, but the ones I do know indicate it's naturally a wet area. The woods out back are mainly alder, red osier dogwood, pacific crabapple, unknown grasses, and a few others I don't know. I've been meaning to map out the yard and document most of the existing species.
Fortunately, the large grass area, which will become garden does have the best drainage. Now that I look again, I think this is due to some drainage ditches that run on the side of the property, but I'm not entirely sure. This area will probably be mostly annual veggies with lots of herbs and flowers interplanted all over the place. How should I approach converting this grass area to garden? I've been piling raked leaves on a very small section of it, but I would never be able to get enough material to do sheet mulching. Is my only other options to wait until it is dry in spring and dig the grass up and loosen the soil to prevent destroying the soil and making huge clods?
I'd like to get a lot of hardy perennial herbs and flowers in front. If I get starts of rosemary, sage, etc. can I plant them this time of year, or is it best to wait until spring?
The fruit trees aren't too out of control, but are in need of a good pruning, which I've never done before. Are there any good resources online for pruning fruit trees?
How long do you think you'll be there? I wouldn't dig that dirt at all if you want to start growing annual garden veggies this spring. I'd buy some straw bales and do this - http://www.carolinacountry.com/cgardens/thismonth/march06guide/straw.html. Use the leaves to start composting your food scraps. Find a coffee shop and add used grounds. Beg garbage from your neighbors. Keep your compost pile covered so nutrients don't leach.
And when the soil does dry this summer, then dig some beds in the ground for perennial food and herb plants. I would still use some kind of raised beds for your annual veggies. As the bales break down, they will form a nice base for future veggie gardens.
Just a thought...
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