Hello all, i'm Alex, a briton living in the Czech Alps, and i've been lurking here a little while absorbing lots of generously shared tips and tricks. I guess it's time to jump in.
I'm not sure where to post this, soil or perm, so i'm guessing.
I have 4000 m2 so far in a mountainous region, about 920 metres above sea level. (If the local council approve it, that'll be 24000 m2)
The soil, if one can call it that, is a thin layer averaging 10cm above several metres of gravel. It's full of pebbles. I've been using a builders screen to filter the stones out of the mix, and i'm left with more or less "course soil" that has little to no nutritional value. Locally, I've managed to score several trailer loads of cow manure/straw compost, which is over 1 year old. I've spent a lot of shovelling time mixing and blending to try and get some sort of start, short of trucking in loads of top soil.
Unlike Sepp's mountain paradise, the average temps here through the year are cooler, with the growing season a mild 15-20 C compared to Sepps generally warmer comparative months.
As if this tale weren't enough of a struggle, i'm surrounded by spruce. Km after km of Spruce. The soil tests as nitrogen poor and acid. (No rocket science required for that conclusion) I've potted loads of peas and beans as an intent to fix N in the soil, but it's slow going.
I'm watering by hand for my newly built hugelkulture beds in my kitchen garden, which are heavily mulched in an attempt to stop the water draining quickly through the gravel to the centre of the planet. I'm about to build much larger hugelkulture beds outside the KG on the main property. (The KG is my test bed at the moment for soil evaluation, as well as a future role as a, well ....kitchen garden) There's no natural spring or river near me, as my well pulls up water from 52 metres down. (The water is magnificent to taste, so that's something.) The average rainfall here is about 7-8cm a month, which isn't sparkling, but at least it rains fairly regularly, and i have had up to 2 metres of snow for 2 of my 3 winters here.
I still have some spruce on the property i intend to chop down, and replace with food hedges, and nut and fruit trees.
I've watched the usual vids online, as one does, and picked up a lot about permaculture in general, but not really anything related to my particular circumstances.
Ok, so that's the picture. I'm not a complete newb, as i had a decent organic farm in Oz for a few years. I will admit i'm a bit out of my depth with this gravel based growing model though.
So, some questions,
Given the nature of my locale, is there particular varieties of common perennial heirloom veggies that others with similar challenges have successfully grown ? Nearly all the info i've found online recommends the equivalent of a perfect Kew Garden style environment for growing. My place is cool, with a cool wind that blows straight up the side of the mountain to my place. (I'm building windbreaks at the moment to at least partially counter this)
Given the near universal fondness for spruce, is there a common plant of flower i can grow quickly in my particularly poor soil that will cover quickly, and improve the PH? I've got plenty of grass, some stinging nettles, dock, and moss at the moment, that work together to ridicule my attempts to improve things here. I can almost hear them laughing in the still of night.....
I'd also like to start 2 food forests, and plant trees and food shrubs asap, as it'll take a while, obviously. Any recommendations for fruit and nut trees that will enjoy toughing it out up here?
More to come, but i guess that's enough to begin with.
Regards to all,