Hello from Brazil´s drylands!
We are just at the end of our planting season, which is in the "winter" here- ok don´t laugh! (It DOES go down to 17* here ...Centigrade...)
This year we developed the ultimate garden bed! It has been giving fabulous results. If someone will teach me how, I could post a photo.
We combined French intensive (double-digging), huglekultur, and lasanha Back to Eden type beds all in one! We have had fabulous results in our poor white sand, even in the first year.(Absolutely no signs of nitrogen deficiency)
We dig trenches as you would for double-digging a bed.
We line the trenches with clay to hold in the water , then fill them with rotten wood, charred bones, granite gravel, and a local rock dust rich in boron.
We fill in the trenches, mixing in liberal amounts of semi-composted chicken house compost. (Have to explain: we built a brick box under the roost, and fill it with leaves, scraps, peels, etc., and let them turn it into compost. We even throw in the rabbit droppings and goat dung,. We then just use it or pile it to compost a while- very rich stuff!)
On top of that we put a generous layer of ground up sheet mulch of rich prunings from legume trees ( leucena, mesquite, etc.), sisal sprouts, Opuntia, aloe vera ( native here), and a local solanacea, close relative of the eggplant, which has shown itself to be very rich in minerals and nitrogen. We keep adding to that any time it gets thin.
The bed is very tall at the first, so we put half-rotted tree trunks around the edges to keep the moisture in. But it settles in a few months
We irrigated only once since April. It was the rainy season, but we DO get spells of hot dry weather even so.
The production is a gardener´s dream! Vigorous hallucinating green,tomatoes and tomatillos full of flowers, just coming into production, where the rest of the farm is already bedding down for its summer sleep.
In three weeks´time no one in the region will have any more tomatoes, just when these are coming into production.
These beds are at the skirts of two cashew trees, so they get shade a good part of the day.
We have irrigated only twice (the rains stopped around the 19th of September), so don´t know how long we will actually keep them going, until we move all production into our irrigated shadehouse. We have used only rainwater until now, and don´t really want to use groundwater , although abundant here, because of its high bicarbonate content.
We are really pleased with the results...