Dúnedain of Arnor
posted 10 years ago
I have been a backyard gardener for many years, but not an especially enthusiastic one. I work up some energy in the spring to get things into the ground, then just barely manage to do some watering when I think of it, and then get a second wind when those baby vegetables start to appear. I'd like to be more environmentally friendly about my gardening, but I wonder how much of a time investment is that going to take? Realistically, what's a typical minimum daily time budget for an ecologically responsible, permaculture garden (here in the US mid-atlantic region?)
posted 10 years ago
The big time investment is up front, in the design and initial installation. The other aspect is to start small and, when you're successful on a small scale, you'll have incentive to scale up. Starting too big is frustrating. Fifty to 100 square feet of garden bed is plenty for a lot of people, although with your experience you may feel comfortable with more. And spring, the high-energy period, is a good time to start. The difference is, instead of planting 30 tomatoes, 20 bush neans and 10 zucchini, and then burning out on maintenance, you would plant a few fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, perennial greens, flowers, and soil-building plants, create a couple of small annual veggie beds, and mulch everything well. That keeps down weeds, reduces the need to water, and builds soil. When I had a huge, huge garden ( 30 trees, 600 square feet of beds, a hundred shrubs or so) I spent maybe 20 hours a week the first spring and early summer, then 10 the second, and by the 3rd of 4th year I was only working in the garden an hour or two a week, spread out evenly across the year. In my urban yard, I did about half that much prep work the first two years, and now, other than having fun with optional outdoor projects, I spend maybe 2 hours a week, and have a ton of food. Spending a lot of time on the design is the key (a good winter project). Besides my book, David Jacke's Edible Forest Gardens is great and has a huge , detailed section on design in volume 2. The old permaculture saying is, in a good design, the designer becomes the recliner.
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