I went out to map our hill. The problem is the survey of our property is measured in the horizontal plane but the property is more vertical, topographical. So tape measurements aren't accurate to what's on paper. Part of permaculture is mapping out your property. I've done any number of shade studies on the equinoxes and solstices with a camera but never any mapping. It's hard on a hill. There has to be a better way to create more habitat and food out of our yard. The front terrace is made from pressure treated wood which is starting to give off arsenic. It's not bad levels yet but I'd rather not grow my food there. Dyestuffs are more appropriate for that area, at least in the immediate areas around the wood.
Here's my best attempt at mapping. I sketched in some ideas for new areas as well but wasn't satisfied with them. Four feet is too hard to reach across on our hill, especially if ground hornets move in. That was the case with the bookcase garden. Also the potatoes near the bottom got too much water and near the top, no water at all. Narrowing the bed to 2 ft should help with that problem.
I woke up the other morning and was poking through my social media feeds. And I saw this picture. It haunted me throughout the day. But do you think I could find it agan? It resonated with my soul. I needed to find it. After wasting an hour searching, I gave up. So a big thanks to Faun for reposting it! Glad it resonated with you too. Here's the picture: https://m.facebook.com/greenrenaissance/photos/a.210721328945659/2605224736161961/?type=3&source=57&ref=m_notif¬if_t=feedback_reaction_generic
This! It's what I want. So to adapt it to my yard, I thought cinderblocks. It steps up the hill nicely, prevents erosion, and marks paths clearly. Using a two foot spacing, I can plant intensely using square foot garden methods (see The Square Foot Garden by Bartholomew). I can plant strawberries inside the cinderblock holes along the lower edge and garlic along the upper edge. I have to work the lines on contour and allow for paths to my clothesline and spacing around trees but I think it will work. Maybe some ground cherries too. So now for the cinderblock quest. I figure 52 would be good. Thirteen maximum a row, four rows is 52 blocks. It would be a good start. This will allow me to increase my growing space, look nice, and hopefully give a bigger yield than 250 pounds of food. I will have to look at ways to create low tunnels to extend the season, but I think its achievable. I may have to give up some of the openings in the cinderblocks for PVC tubing. It will help with pests as well. The tule experiment on the greens worked wonders and even kept out a groundhog.
No digging/ no tilling is involved in this project. The book case garden is going away. It's starting to fall apart. The dirt is in the right place so a rake will do to move it where I want it. Right now, the cardboard from all the empty attic boxes is going down as a barrier. It will kill off grass and weeds. I can't get a mower in there. The pitch of the hill also makes it dangerous to mow. Then I will place the cinderblocks on contour. Next, cover the paths with sawdust. The garden bed will get coffee grounds, dried leaves, compost and dirt between the two rows. I will start with two rows. Cinderblocks are 8" x 8" x 18". I'm excited to get things started. Construction Junction just got in a shipment of used blocks. With tax, they are $0.80 each. I got 2 today to start. There are strawberry plants in my currant patch that need to be moved. I am really looking forward to this project. I want wine cap mushrooms too.
The next phase is to propagate more of the fruit bushes I already have. One gooseberry bush isn't enough to make jam with. Same with the two lingonberries. I am also hoping to add some minerals to the soil for better nutrition and healthier plants. It will take a while for the new soil to create tilth. Coffee grounds take a year to break down. The Amish straw worked the best but I couldn't afford any this year. The trees need to be trimmed to let in more light. So many things to do! No chainsaw either nor a ladder. A chipper shredder would be nice too. Sigh. My goal is to someday grow 2000 pounds of organic food on this lot. I'll settle for 300 next year. I've plans for more tomatoes but we got hit with hornworm this year so I may need to give the soil a rest. Gotta look for red clover seed to fallow that spot.
Time for bed. May your dreams be filled with fresh, tasty organic produce!