Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Wood Chips, Dynamic Accumulators, and Gardening

It has been a long time since I have posted. Busy with life I guess. I had to learn how to garden this last growing season without a water source, which was a pretty tough issue to overcome. I still had a successful garden. Plenty of kale, collards, some tomatoes, squash of all sorts, etc. I learned a lot in the process and now realize how nice it is to have access to a reliable water supply.

The only way I was able to make my garden succeed was with lots of free wood chips (hay mulch alone was not enough to keep the soil from drying out in windy weather after three months without a drop of rain). I did use some grey water to get them started, but other than that they were on their own for water. Luckily the wood chips saved the garden.

About a year or two ago I watch a film called Back To Eden that demonstrated how to grow a garden without watering it. It relied on a ~6 inch application of wood chips and composted manure mixed into the mulch. Wood chips really do maintain constant soil moisture without the drying you eventually get with a mulch. The plants appreciate a good source of fertilizer too. I watched the Eden film probably three times I liked it so much. I would recommend it to anyone that likes gardening.

I also read a lot about permaculture and regreening desert spaces. I read about the idea of growing mulberry trees like the Illinois everbearing mulberry next to a chicken run to feed the chickens with the berries and about feeding mulberry leaves to milk cows to replace their grain ration. I also read about using mulberry leaves to replace 50% of a rabbits diet, and replacing 15% of a pigs diet with the leaves. I found out about many permanent crops that you can harvest year after year and continue to feed them to your animals, i.e. leaves and branches from honey locust, willow, apple, pear, linden, and poplar trees.

I read about coppicing black locust trees for a renewable source of firewood as well as coppicing many other trees like willows for wood or making baskets. I read about dynamic accumulators and started one, a comfrey plant, in the house during the winter. Comfrey seed is a bit hard to find. I bought this seed from Thompson & Morgan. I reused my old potting soil from my winter sowing experiments, so you can see that I have a tomato seedling popping up next to the comfrey plant. It was a little bit late germinating for the tomato.

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