Senda Verde Permaculture Eco Center
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Mandala garden marked out – what’s the next step?
Thanks to Permaculture power for the post
Hint #1 It takes much longer to grow seedlings than you expect – at least it did for me. I thought 2 weeks tops and they’ll be ready to go in the ground. Which meant that the chooks had LONG moved on from the bed before I was ready to plant it. And then the weeds get the jump on you. So pull out your book and some sheets of paper and plan which guild you are going to plant in which bed and when. Set up a seed raising area (you’ll need more space than you think). Source your seeds, and collect the other bits you’ll need – trays, seed raising mix, plant labels (trust me you’ll forget what you put where) and things to use as bottomless pots – milk cartons, yoghurt tubs etc. You need a lot. Then start getting seeds germinating before you start moving your chooks onto place.
I’ve started seeds this week for when the chooks return to the first circle in 8 weeks time – I’ll be doing her Guild 1 with a few modifications.
I cheated with the pond and had a landscaper set a bathtub pond up for me. You’ll need to work out how you are making yours and out of what and start getting that organized too.
Hint #2 I wouldn’t bother doing any preparation of the spots the chooks are going on to. 2 weeks and you’ll have bare earth regardless of how much back breaking labour you put in first once the chooks go to town.
Hint # 3 If planting a new garden every 2 weeks gets a bit much – whack in a green manure crop instead. Just toss the seeds on a few days after the chooks have left and water in. The chooks will have raptures when they get back on to it and you have improved your soil in the meantime and kept the weeds away.
I decided not to make the compost beds the first time around. I had enough to concentrate on just getting enough things germinated as it was! I’ll do this with the second lap around the garden. I do have a fruit tree at each spot, but I didn’t get fussed trying to work out when each sets fruit to get the chooks there at the right time. I just seemed too hard! It’ll be 2 years before I get fruit from most of them any way and I may have changed garden styles by then.
Hint # 4 Think about what you want to be doing in what season. I was so mad keen to get the garden started that I’ve ended up trying to get things to germinate and grow in late Autumn / early winter. And quickly learned that they don’t grow very fast, and it is really frustrating. But it is a good time to make compost and do other physically demanding jobs that you don’t want to do in summer. Plan to plant in spring and autumn and rest in summer and winter.
Have you thought about what you’ll do with the chooks in the 3 months off the garden? And will you let them free range or will they stay in the dome? I’ve been feeling guilty that mine stay in the dome and let them out a few times recently. They have mauled my corn to within an inch of its life. I’m thinking that I’ll put a circle of bales around each garden and cover it somehow with chicken wire when they are first planted, so I can let the chooks into the more established beds, but save the new seedlings.
Hint #5 Several permies have told me that the Woodrow system isn’t a good long term option. I can’t tell you whether that is true from 6 months of experience. It has been a good place to start for me as it seemed easy to follow someone else’s recipe, rather than have to create my own. I’m planning on using it while it works and learning what I can from the experience so that I can do my own thing further down the track.