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From Suburban Lawn to Small Plot Intensive Abundance  RSS feed

 
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
14
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I live on a 1/4 acre about 20 miles from Washington DC.  After getting into permaculture and listening to Paul's podcasts I decided to turn my entire side yard into permaculture awesome.  With 6 garden rows (each 3feetby20), a mini vineyard and orchard along with quite a few berry bushes and medicinal plants.  Here is the transformation!
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Side yard just sad unused lawn
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roughed out a 20x30 area for the garden
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with woodchips added on top
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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1st season had quite a productive garden.  I added some good compost on top and broadforked it all.  This was really compacted clay, the broadfork (meadow creature 14 inch all steel) would only go in about 4-5 inches.
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first season crops
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after harvest and then sow'd cover crops for winter
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Cover Crops
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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More cover crops and then in the early spring mowed them with lawn mower and covered the clippings with a huge tarp to keep the soil covered and moist while letting the microbiology feast on the recently cut cover crops.
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close up of cover crops
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recently mowed cover crop
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Tarp the whole area
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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2nd season.  Wow what a difference!  I pulled the tarp off and all the mowed cover crops were eaten by the soil life.  I broadforked everything and holy cow in just one season the soil was dramatically different.  No more compacted clay, broadfork went in the whole 14 inches! I also saw a truck driving around my neighborhood with woodchips and they were more than happy to dump 30 yards in my driveway for free.  I covered the whole side yard in wood chips.  no more grass.
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Covered in woodchips
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Sunchokes and woodchips
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Sunchoke screen, from the street nobody knows about my permaculture paradise
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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More 2nd season pics of the side yard garden
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row crops1
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row crops2
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row crops3
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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last row and pic of vineyard.   Then a sampling of harvest pics.
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More row crops with miny vineyard - muscadine / concord grapes
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Kale and cabbage
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Purple Mustard and Swiss Chard
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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My carrot harvest was really good.
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Carrots going crazy
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Orange and purple
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Purple carrot inside. just look at that color!
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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More harvest
Harvest4.JPG
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Mizuna
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cabbages
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Swiss Chard
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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Also growing medicinals like echinacea, juicing greens, and thornless blackberry.
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echinacea
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juicing my greens - so much diversity!
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Thornless Blackberry
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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Harvest over 100 pounds of Sweet Potatoes and 100s of Sunchokes.  Really like the purple sweet potatoes!

Again I live on a 1/4 acre about 20 miles from Washington DC.  I am not a gardening expert.  In fact, I only started gardening about 4 years ago, no previous experience.  My soil has dramatically transformed from a compacted clay dead zone into productive abundance.  If I can do this, anyone can!

Can't wait for spring!  
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Sweet Potatoes - two varieties
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Sunchokes!
 
steward
Posts: 2723
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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NICE WORK!    WOW

That's a great documentation and it sure is a little oasis in a sea of generic lawns.   Congrats on all of your success.  Keep up the good work.
 
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It's really awesome to see the progression over multiple growing seasons. We're about to get started with our own 1/4 acre plot, on the west side of the other Washington, so this is really great to see. Thanks for sharing! And I may have questions later!




 
Posts: 10
Location: Canada
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Your garden looks so green.  I wonder if it's inspired any neighbors?  I also love the sunchokes as a privacy screen to the road for my side garden, they work great.
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Beautiful!
 
Posts: 12
Location: Saskatoon, SK, Canada. Hardiness transition between zone 2 and 3
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Wonderful post!! Your space has come a long way! I really enjoyed how you laid out this post to show seasonal change. I do have a question..did you let the area rest under that tarp for a whole season or just a couple weeks??
 
Posts: 374
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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That's amazing! I envy your carrots (I can't grow them for anything). Well done!
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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Genevieve Jones wrote:Wonderful post!! Your space has come a long way! I really enjoyed how you laid out this post to show seasonal change. I do have a question..did you let the area rest under that tarp for a whole season or just a couple weeks??



Thanks! I think I covered them for 4-6 weeks then peeled back the tarp one row at a time.  So I would peel back the tarp and prep and plant a row then wait a week or so and repeat down the line.  That way I had a staggered planting and harvesting so everything didn't all come up at once.
 
Jimbo Shepherd
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Location: Virginia
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Charli Wilson wrote:That's amazing! I envy your carrots (I can't grow them for anything). Well done!



My advice, plant a bunch of them (also try different varieties). Then go back and thin out the seedlings to space them out and give individual carrots space to grow. Experiment to see what works for you maybe one inch apart in some areas maybe 2-3 inches apart in others. see what does better and replicate success.
 
Posts: 515
Location: Eastern Kansas
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I grow carrots by planting them before the last freeze. I get a better germination rate if the seeds at least get frosted.

I have a handicapped friendly garden, with miniature and dwarf fruit trees, blackberries, and a garden covered with weed barrier. And, this year I am trying to naturalize mushrooms by planting them just downhill of the chicken pen, where runoff from the run will give the mushrooms the nutrition they need. Portabellas are supposed to love manure. I planted portabellas because they are brown, and because the local toadstools are all white. That way there will be no accidents.

It either will or will not work

Edited to add: I have also made 2 raised beds with a lot of firewood in them, to hopefully absorb water and release it to the roots. I planted one  to onions and garlic, and the other has not yet been planted.
 
pollinator
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What a wonderful change. And food.
 
pollinator
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I love this!  A really great example of using a small space to grow a great bounty of edibles.  I so often hear people say they can't grow anything, because they only have a postage stamp for a back yard... I love the photos, keep them coming!
 
pollinator
Posts: 145
Location: Courtrai Area, Flanders Region, Belgium Europe
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Jimbo, that's inspiring. Well done.

A question, you mentioned thornless blackberry under medicinals. I'm not aware of any advantages of thornless blackberries over 'thornfull' blackberries.
I'm just keeping the very THORNFULL blackberry bushes coming in from the undermaintained neighbours gardens under controll by harvesting their growing tips and flowers for tea, berries go in the freezer to make jam.

I have to wear an extra coat to prune those suckers. Yet i prune because i fear they will give up and spray the lot.

 
Posts: 19
Location: Portland, OR
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Jimbo, so inspiring to see your progress!  Did you have any setbacks from pests or varmints? Really love the sunchoke as screen idea.  What kinds of fruit trees did you plant?

Also, we might be related.  My grandfather was a Shepherd with relatives from Virginia and Ohio.  
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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Erwin Decoene wrote:Jimbo, that's inspiring. Well done.

A question, you mentioned thornless blackberry under medicinals. I'm not aware of any advantages of thornless blackberries over 'thornfull' blackberries.
I'm just keeping the very THORNFULL blackberry bushes coming in from the undermaintained neighbours gardens under controll by harvesting their growing tips and flowers for tea, berries go in the freezer to make jam.

I have to wear an extra coat to prune those suckers. Yet i prune because i fear they will give up and spray the lot.



Sorry, I meant that differently.  like Medicinals and also blackberries are in these pictures too.. I don't think there are any differences in nutrition or medicinally between thronless and thorned varieties.
 
Jimbo Shepherd
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christine shepherd wrote:Jimbo, so inspiring to see your progress!  Did you have any setbacks from pests or varmints? Really love the sunchoke as screen idea.  What kinds of fruit trees did you plant?

Also, we might be related.  My grandfather was a Shepherd with relatives from Virginia and Ohio.  



I did not have any set backs from pests or varmints.   I have a couple of multi grafted variety apples, multigrafted asian pear, plum, elderberry, service berry, goji berry, muscadine & concord grapes, 4x apache thornless blackberry and some blueberries all in this same area. Howdy cousin!
 
pollinator
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Thank you so much for sharing this.  This is really inspiring and a fantastic example of what you can do with a vision and some good hard work.  The productivity of your space is a great inspiration to others who are spending money just watering and mowing grass, but getting no return on that investment.  While you are eating fruit from your trees and salads from your garden beds, they'll be driving over to Safeway or Costco to spend precious money on these same things.

You're garden/integrated orchard is very similar to mine: wood-chips, integrated veggies and annuals into the greater scheme of multiple fruit trees, etc.  As you described the transformation of your soil from one year to the next, I was nodding my head in agreement . . . all it takes is a lot of carbon and a little bit of patience and the land will heal itself.

Wood chips are magic, aren't they?  It's crazy how well they improve the soil if you just lay them down as a mulch and leave them alone.
 
Jimbo Shepherd
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Location: Virginia
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Genevieve Jones wrote:Wonderful post!! Your space has come a long way! I really enjoyed how you laid out this post to show seasonal change. I do have a question..did you let the area rest under that tarp for a whole season or just a couple weeks??



I think it was like 4-8 weeks. depending on row.   I would peel the tarp off just one row and plant it and wait a week then peel off the next row.  That way I always had veggies.
 
Posts: 51
Location: North-Central Minnesota
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FANTASTIC!!  Love what you've done with the place.  
 
gardener
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Awesome work! I hope you are converting your neighbors...  
What are you adding this year?
 
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Location: Portsmouth Virginia
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This is all the more amazing given the fact that you are so close to DC with all of those rule followers, code enforcers, and complaining neighbors! Or did you not have to deal with that? If so I’d like to hear about it. We’ve been avoiding playing with our front yard because of such problems, maybe we’ve been far too timid- looks like I better just line the place with sunchokes and get to it.
 
Jimbo Shepherd
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Cameron Granger wrote:This is all the more amazing given the fact that you are so close to DC with all of those rule followers, code enforcers, and complaining neighbors! Or did you not have to deal with that? If so I’d like to hear about it. We’ve been avoiding playing with our front yard because of such problems, maybe we’ve been far too timid- looks like I better just line the place with sunchokes and get to it.



Hi Cameron, This is all in my sideyard and none of this is in my front yard so Its kinda concealed (by the sunchokes, fruit trees, berry bushes) from the street.  I've left my front yard very suburban looking and people passing by would never know. I do have a HOA but they haven't bothered me yet.  I think for the front yard, some small, slow changes could be accomplished with some dwarf fruit trees.

If it were up to me, I would cover the entire front lawn with woodchips and plant it all out.   I think my neighbors and HOA would totally loose their minds if I did that!  Also, my backyard is a full up permaculture crazy fest with a hugelkultur, composting, huge aquaponics setup, and Quail tractor!  Check it out at Tomahawk Permaculture
 Jimbo
 
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