Exactly right. The only thing what let me try doing something on the TOP of the soil was the hard work. I had to work all the time with the mattock to get the rubbish like concrete pavers, pieces of walls, road signs, rubble or even asphalt out and broke several handles. Yes there was dirt in between all that crap. I know that 1 1/2 meter below all that there is swamp, hence water. The more I build up the more the water runs off the land and the farer I'm away from the water.
It depends what you want. Jerusalem artichockes are prolific, but how much do you really want? They are not terribly good unless your want to burn schnaps.
Rhubarb is really worthwhile and grows in shade. Small fruits like currants or strawberries. The same with greens like sorrel or mints you only need so much.I will try air potato and kudzu both sound promising and can be used as staples. Chestnuts but the trees are huge.
It seems that you need a very decent windbreak. We have high winds here too and I am very aware of that. It helps against drying winds too and against cold winter winds.
I can't make any suggestions for your climate, but if you are in a bushfire prone area, bear in mind that anything pine burns easily. I think a windbreak must be evergreen too it helps with the heating of the house.
I would not introduce tyres in the garden because they contain toxins and if you ever want to get rid of them it costs you a fortune.
For your annual area you could make four or so sections, all fully fenced and rotate chicken or ducks over them to give you eggs and a lot of fertilizer. For your climate ducks might be better. It's expensive in the beginning though wire, concrete starposts.
Furthermore you could ask your neighbours for the garden waste or even call lawnmowing companies or gardeners.
Yes dig the timber in. I had bad experiences laying it on the top as written in the huegelbed thread. I would start with one or two beds only and keep modifiying. Mulching with stones is good in dry climates too. And yes to the water tank the biggest you can fit in. Try greywater use too. With the huegelbeds, doesn't they dry oout easier as they stick out of the ground?
I have tried two methods of huegelbeds. In the first case the whole site for the vegetable was dug out with a machine. That was a majopr catastrophe and I don't recomment this at all. We then completetly netted the site which was good. Then we layed the beds first woody clippings and then grass and dirt. but we did not mound each bed. The beds had to be refilled since then. The soil is nice now but the amount of hard shoveling work was just too much and also the destruction of the surroundings. It was as well a huge stability problem to build everything in.
I have to add that we have next to no toposil and our whole land is fill with asphalt lumps and concrete pavers and some dirt.
The second method I tried was no good either. I decided to lay everything on top of the land. There are two versions, the first were i put first grass clippings on the wood (worse) the second were I laid the soil first and used the clippings for mulch.
These hilled beds are first of all not very stable and I really have no idea how Sepp builds his very steep beds without a problem - there must be glue in his soil.
Building the beds on top of the soil is good as long as the climate is very wet. But in Australia it always changes and we only had some weeks of dry weather and the stuff wilted and I had to water daily.
My next attempt will be to dig small trenches in the width of every bed, fill this with the woody stuff and then hild up the rest. I will bring in a SMALL machine for this one too as it is really no fun trying to hand dig our fill and it is not comparable to dig dirt.
Hopefully this approach is better.
I must find a method to restore the beds laid on the top.
What I've learned from the thread is that myco.. is something with beneficial fungi and inoculants are beneficial bacteria.
Our soil is landfill, stuff excavators dug up. So I think it lacks in both, bacteria and fungi.
There's an Australian source for the fungi, it seems quite expensive: mycoapply I did not find a source for inocculants for home gardeners though.
I wonder weather one could rely on something homemade for both?
And once you have applied that stuff the bacteria and fungi should be happy and procreating?
There are more classical polycultures like the three sisters or to plant garlic/onions with carrots.
These plantings are often staggered by some weeks. I often plant more than one thing in a bed but often something gets choked out like my lettuces under peas or tomatoes.
We have dug some small ponds. I want to use bentonite to seal them. I won't do glay as we need all available muck on our beds.
Who has experience with bentonite? We can buy sacks of bentonite powder here.
My main question is: After digging the pond,and putting in a layer of bentonite do I put a layer of dirt to plant or do I put the dirt only were the plants are?
We have one bentonite pind were the ducks are and it does not lock great so far the water is very murky but I don't know weather this is a problem of the ducks.
If you put edible plants in the pond do you rather put them in containers or plant them in the pond itself?
I would go for some fast growing what I would cut down later. Meanwhile you grow something slow growing which bears fruit.
Fast growing is bamboo but it does not like very much the sun. Eleaegnus species like the sun and paulownia grows very fast and it is a soil improver.
Acacias would be suitable too. Figs don't really grow fast. Peaches grow fast but they need plenty of fertilizer.
Sawdust is acid. What is the reason for sheet mulching? Is your soil crap or non existant? If you bury great soil under cardboard that is a bit of a waste, but sheet mulching is great when there is no real soil. Only sheep manure and sawdust does not sound very balanced, however I am not very scientifically. Can't you rake up some leaves too? Or organize some lawn clippings from the neighbours? The cardboard layer is only for stopping grass growing it is not for improving the soil. It acutally does not break down very fast and it does not let the roots of your veggies grow through it.
I must admit I once bought a kudzu plant which was expensive on the top of it and it simply dies. It did not grow back after winter and the frosts here don't go below -5°C.
That means it is a weed only in some areas.
You could always plant it in a big container and tip it over at the end of the season for easy root harvest.
I have the same priblem not because of my back but because our topsoil is non existant. You might get someone in with a machine to remove the topsoil , the topsoil in a separtae heap. You best call a landscaper because they often have very small machines that won't wreck your garden and soil too much. I did this for fruit tree holes, fantastic (digging here is next to impossible). The machine was really tiny.
If you want more soil you could call an excavator for dirt but ask exactly what you get, you want soil not fill!
But then comes the next part and you will still have hard work: get in the woody stuff, cut it up heap the soil on the top.
I totally agree that maize (corn) is the best for the home garden. However the varieties offered here are mainly sweet corn. The few maize varieties are varieties for fodder - there is no corn culture in Australia and entry is prohibited. I will try what's available this year.
Last year I tried Aztec red corn, but the summer was crappy and it didn't ripen. We are at altitude and the weather is somewhat unpredictable. But I used the stalks and grew fava (broad) beans in between and the beans quite liked a bit of support, they grow far better than in another bed without the support.
This year I will try ANASAZI Early Leaming and Sweetcorn black, maybe there is something which is usefull other than for corn on the cob.
We eat a lot of dry beans and you don't crack them. But they absolutely must be soaked, some with changes of water, before you cook them. Most beans are soaked overnight.
Jordan, what do you mean by growing barley etc. in small bushes? What do you do?
You're right with the tomatoes. They don't like stakes. I think many problems with trellises come because they are not sturdy enough. My tepes tend to to tip, some were too high too.
In our old garden I had something great for cucumbers. It was an A but had hinges on the top that it can be folded away. It was made out of old fencing timber.
I don't know weather this would work for tomatoes too. (I actually could ask the children... they discovered woodworking)
I must ask the price of reinforcing mesh but I guess that here it is very expensive too.
I usually raise my seedlings in these white boxes you get from the greengrocer on the terrace. That is OK as long as these are vegetable seedlings.
But herbs which often need longer time to germinate and/or are very fine seeds don't do very well there, it is just too hot and sunny. I have to water several times a day - on hour too late and everything is bone dry.
I have a nice area under a decidious tree, but when I put the boxes on the ground I will almost certainly have slugs eating my seedlings.
A table is OK as long as it is dry and there are not so many slugs, but as soon as it is wet they climb, and then they are sitting under the pots or boxes.
What do you use to propagate herb seedlings? Do nursery benches make a difference? Do you think it is a good idea to raise seedligs under a tree?
Or is it better having beds for raising seedlings?
My trellises always tip over or the peas refuse to climb on them.
What trellises are you using?
I recently simply cut some branches of a tree stuck it into the ground and tied it together with a rope. Looks good but peas dont really climb well on it. Then I stuck some smaller branches around and the weight of the peas are tipping everything over.
I always have problems with tomato plants and other climbers too. As mcuh as I like the idea of growing up, I didn't find a great trellis system so far.
I want to grow some of our own grain and dry beans. It seems that most grains are easy to grow but difficult to process.
I have one bed fava beans Aquadulce
One bed oats nepales hull less so far.
What about amaranth? Worthwhile or will it shatter?
Quinoa buckwheat or even teff? Worthwhile a try or are the yields too low? Does it shatter?
In Australia home gardener seed merchants don't sell named varieties and maize corn varieties are very limited too. I for example search Hopi blue corn. It must be somewhere in Australia.
Everything grain and beans are not allowed entry.
What harvests can you expect? It is very difficult because usually harvest figures are given in bushels per acre instead of kg/m².
We are in a climate were clumping bamboos grow but not that great. You don't think that running bamboo are a nuissance provided I dig the shoots?
I would like to plant some between existing trees, they are decidious and i need a windbreak in winter.
I really think it is better trying out some two or three different things and being very good at that.
However, it makes completely sense writing up a comprehensive list to have some idea what would be possible and how much money you could make and what the expenses are.
It is not only about cross polination. Some plants need a sufficient diverse genpool. Fro example corn or cabbages. That means that you must save seeds from enough plants, which is difficult with cabbages or do you want to eat 200 cabbages?
I try to save what is easy at the moment and buy the rest.
If I want to keep greens in the fridge I simply put them into a damp towel. On the market you could spray them with water.
To avoid plastic I have got the following idea: give simply each customer who brings his own container a discount of 20 cents.
Write a nice sign. You could pack greens simply in paper and tell the people that they must take it out when they come home.
I imagine that selling greens on the market is very difficult, especially in summer.
We have a food coop here and for every bag you must pay 5 cents. For honey and stuff you must bring your own jar. It works fantastically.
When I have too many jars I just bring them in for people who forgot their jars. And so do people with egg cartons.
I wonder too what Brenda's variety is. I have planted comfrey as close to the fruit trees as in her picture, but my comfrey is at least double the height and thrice the spread. It was sold to me as the official form but I have my doubts. I plan to solve the problem the easy way: get some fence posts and some chicken wire and I will put in the small chicken or bigger chicken for some time.
There are three books I can recommend:
- Breed your own vegetable varieties
- seed savers handbook
- seed to seed
There are plants which need a lot of distance like corn for example. I find the whole topic difficult, because I want to grow several varieties and I cannot imagine building cages and that stuff. But I plan to harvest my own seeds because of the apalling quality of commercial seeds here.
i built my hügelbeds the following way so far: Chip up a pile of branches, lay them in shape on a layer of cardboard, topsoil is next to non exsisant so forget abot it, put grass clippings on the top of the timber, and then soil organized from somewhere.
I am just building another one and I think that it might be FAR better doing it like this: first brances, then soil and the grass on the top. I think it might be more stable because the soil holds the branches together, it might hold water better, it might break down faster too.
The way I have built them so far has some disadvantages: They are not very stable, the soil does not stick to the sides of the beds so I can only plant the top and they lose water very easily.
I plan now to change the method of not cutting of the branches into small pieces, but instead making bundles of them as discussed in another thread.
BUT I have no soil. What is if I simply call an excavator for a truckload of soil? That is subsoil. Is it of any use for the bed? What does subsoil do if used for planting? I think I would get this fairly cheap. I would have to get the stones out, but I would get bigger and more usefull stones too. Maybe I would have to shovel it through a sieve.
Second question: What happens to root vegetables if they grow into the woody zone of a hügelbed or into the uncomposted grass clippings, pine needles or leaves?
BTW I have planted trees in my hügelbeds and they have done well so far. Howver the bamboo didn't.
We have dug several small ponds, too small for holding fish. One is the overflow of the water tank so it wonÄt have water all the time, one is where it puddles naturally one in the chicken duck run connected to a very small roof, and one is the downpipe of the neighbours roof - actuallly none of them will have water all the time.
We want to seal them with bentonite and plant them with edible species, only the duck pond we want to plant with something the ducks don't eat.
Some do tell you to plant the plants in pots. Otherwise do I put good soil only were the plants are? Or do I put the soil over the whole pond surface? Or do I dig a hole through the bentonite and put good soil there and will the pond leek then? How did you plant your pond?
I have no experience with goats. With my sheep I feed her grain hard bread and some leftovers from the greengrocer while milking. If she misbehaves, what
she seldom does, I take the feed bucket out. I feed things which are difficult to eat like big chunks of pumpkin or a bigger piece of hard bread which keeps her entertained for a while. In the beginning I had a kid holding her feet.
We have aracaunas, light sussex Isa Brown and some mixed birds. We breed always with aracaunas they do the best job. You don't have to have more than two of them and the rest of the flock can be something else, but I always want to have more than one chicken from each breed, that they are not lonely (unless the Isa Browns they are so bossy. We prefer to have dual purpose breeds, and aracaunas are very light and not so great eating.
I read the one straw revolution. And I wonder how this should work, I learned that you make a furrow to put your seeds in and then cover and tamp down. Now Fukuoka plants cover crops and he throws the seeds in between - how do they grow if they are not covered with earth?
That is a bit off topic.
Back to the topic: there are a lot of wild plants around us, but unfortunately we cannot use them, because they are declared as weeds, and in order to "protect" our bush they are sprayed on with poisons. I would love to use that stuff.