As part of my gardening and homesteading life, I like to learn about new methods, research how to improve old methods and sometimes resourcefulness comes into play to develop new ones. But part of ensuring the success of it all is to assess the projects and make the decision whether to modify, continue using it or change it up. I am trying a few of these types of projects this year like implementing the Back to Eden gardening method and using a homemade woven weed fabric. I thought I would give you an update on how it's going after about a month or so of implementing.
It is always easy to sit at my table in the middle of winter and read gardening and homesteading type articles and think about implementing the ideas within the articles. But it is another thing to actually do them. This year, I decided to implement a few new types of gardening projects, with a twist, and see how they work. But I also moved into another year of trialing projects I had given a try in the year previous. This is all part of the adaptive nature of gardening and homesteading life that allows for the Permaculture Principles to work. After taking thoughtful action to implement my projects this year, I have been observing how they are working and "Creatively responding to change", the twelfth principle. To learn more about Permaculture design Principles, I would recommend a course I took called Permaculture for your homestead: A crash course.
The Old Projects - Container gardening
In a May 18 blog I did on How to Container Garden, I explored how I used an old water tank for a container garden. Well this year rather than planting it full of lettuce and such I decided to get a bunch of dahlia tubers and put in the containers along with some melons, herbs and peanuts. I also used an old plastic tote for a couple (in back). The dahlia's are doing well and some are getting ready to bloom.
Maybe, just maybe I will be like my Great Grandfather and grow a prize winning dahlia. Chance are not, but one never knows.
However, this spring I did start some peanuts and melons in a Coir fiber plantable pot as I thought for these plants they would be good as I would not have to disturb the roots when I transplanted. Unfortunately, I am not impressed. The peanuts are stunted and anemic (to the right of the geranium and calendula - second plants in from left of picture) and,
the watermelon and cantaloupe are both stunted or died. The ones I direct seeded (foreground center) are actually ahead of the ones I planted in the Coir plantable pots.
Although these two containers are maybe not doing as well as I would have hoped, the raised beds I built last year are doing well. The strawberries overwintered nicely and have been producing very well and the greens I planted with them in the open spaces are doing very well.
Even the garlic I planted in the fall came up this spring and produced scapes. I harvested them and made a garlic scape basil pesto. It was so good. The greens (Kale, chard, lettuce, spinach and purple top turnips) I seeded the end of April may have took a bit to come up, but they have certainly supplied me with early greens. I am on the second planting of some of them now.
But as with all container gardening, everything needs a lot of water. Unfortunately, I got behind on watering the raised beds and things are a little dry on the tips. Hopefully it won't affect the bulbs underground.
And as I have planted more flowers this year, the containers at the house add some much needed interest and eventual color.
The old projects - Floating row cover tunnel
This was the second year trying the DIY Floating Row Cover tunnel. As I explored in DIY Floating Row Cover Tunnel for Cabbage Root Maggot and Cabbage Moth Control, the floating row cover tunnel was built out of stuff I had around the yard with the sole purpose of preventing the cabbage root maggot and for cabbage moth control. As it did last year, it is doing a great job of making sure that the brassica's are not being affected. When I planted everything out, I had to buy cabbage starts because my cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower were all attacked by aphids and white flies. I hope to see some production from those plants but in the meantime, the DIY floating row cover tunnel is doing its job and the cabbage are looking good, despite needing to be weeded. No cabbage root maggots, no cabbage moths and no dusting to prevent them.
The New project - Back to Eden Gardening
As I explored in Achieving a Permaculture Design Principle with the Back to Eden Gardening method, I converted the flower bed on the north end of my garden into a Back to Eden Garden. And a month in, I have not had to weed it yet except for one corner where the Canada Thistle are trying to establish. But a few minutes of hand weeding and they were removed.
Although the hardwood mulch does a good job of keeping the moisture in, transplanting perennials during a drought does put some stress on them but hopefully they will be okay. But the biggest struggle I had was planting out the starts that I had. Because the mulch was four to six inches thick, getting these starts into the soil underneath without covering the starts with mulch was interesting to say the least. I would expect that as the mulch ages, planting will be easier.
But none the less, I got the perennials I wanted in this bed transplanted and then filled it in with a bunch of flowers and perennial herbs that I had started. Hopefully things will kick into gear and give me at least one brief show before the first frost. But for now, things are looking good. This is the bed looking east from the center walk way.
I also converted another bed at the corner of my shed into a Back to Eden bed and got it planted. This bed proved to be interesting because the ground slopes at this location so parts of the bed has a very deep mulch of over six inches which proved to be problematic when transplanting and planting the flowers and herbs. But I got it done and it doesn't look bad I figure. Once it fills in it will look real good.
But the ferns definitely did not like being transplanted during a drought in July. But the bed looks good none the less and like the others will fill in.
I had big plans of establishing another Back to Eden Gardening bed in my orchard, but it was the end of June and I had not started it yet. Realizing that I had other stuff that needed doing and that it was not going to happen till much later this summer, if at all, I potted up all the tubers and root stock I had bought in the spring that were destined for that bed. I moved them all to the end of the west half of the garden bed where I was using some of my homemade woven weed fabric AKA mini bulk bag to try to get the quack grass under control. It became my nursery and will have to figure out what to do with them before winter. I might just burry them in the garden in the fall.
The new project - Homemade woven weed fabric
There is always a lot of weeds and sometimes, like this year, they can get a head of me. I will get the annual weeds under control, but the quack grass in certain parts of the garden has gotten unmanageable. With every little piece of root establishing a new plant it can soon take over and as I explore in Woven Landscape Fabric - A Homemade Woven Weed Fabric DIY project I don't want to have to weed the garden carrying a garden fork and I really don't want to spray it with glyphosate. So, using the cut up mini bulk bags AKA homemade woven weed fabric seemed like a viable option. For the most part it is doing its job in the places where I worked the soil first such as in the plant nursery in the previous photo, or the first eight feet at the start of the squash row.
But for those sections where I just put the homemade woven weed fabric over the weeds without weeding first, the weeds are pushing up on the homemade woven weed fabric. Although it is keeping the weeds from reaching to the sky as is shown in this photo, the weeds are causing the fabric to lift and may cause the staples to pull out of the ground.
I guess the fabric of the mini bulk bags lets enough light through to allow the established weeds to continue growing, albeit slower. I suppose I could spray paint the bags black but being that will seal them up from the paint, I will have to either pull the homemade weed fabric back and hand weed the row or alternatively, and more likely, I will dump some hardwood mulch on top of it to push the weeds down and block off the light. If I do that, I might just leave it in place and just plant direct into the holes next spring. Alternatively, I will have to gather all the mulch up as I don't want all that carbon mixed into the garden as it will use up the nitrogen in the soil and I will have more problems then.
Although maybe not what I had hoped would happen, I think the homemade woven weed fabric is somewhat working. The squash look good for being seeded on June 15.
Someone recently said to me that sometimes you have to make your plans in an open hand and allow them to come and go as needed. This resonated with me because that has been my year thus far. However, although things have not gone as I had planned, I am still happy with how things are working. It's not perfect, as is the case with the homemade woven weed fabric, but like the Permaculture Principle of "creatively use and adapt to change" I will adjust and it will be fine. And after all, there is always next year.
I hope you enjoyed this update on the projects I have going for this year in the garden. If you did and If you enjoy this content, please consider joining the My Boreal Homestead Life community. By supplying your email address at the bottom of the page and hitting "sign up" or by clicking Join, you will ensure you get an email notification when I post new blogs to the My Boreal Homestead Life site.
Thank you for joining me on the front porch of My Boreal Homestead Life as we explore this Homegrown, Homestead life, In a modern world.
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- Stoney Ridge Farmer - Small Scale No Till Farming...Building Soil From A to Z!
- Justin Rhodes - Going BACK To EDEN (for healing)
- Simple Living Alaska - Turning this Bare Land into a Garden
- Homesteading Family - Preparing the Garden for Winter: No-Till Gardening
- Epic Gardening - Birdies Raised beds
- No Till Growers - The Problem with Silage Tarps
- Stoney Ridge Farmer - The Science of grass...Learn something today...real world..real grass..no chemicals!
- Melissa K Norris - How to Keep Weeds Out of the Garden Naturally
- Epic Gardening - 9 Best Landscape Fabric Types & How To Use Them