Starting Permaculture

I am so excited for this coming Spring! I will finally begin the first phase of my dream rid myself of the all mighty lawnmower! I feel a little guilty that I haven’t paid more attention to the beauty of Winter but I have wanted to convert my entire yard to gardens ever since we moved into this house in 2003! I spent the last six weeks sitting on my living room floor surrounded by drawing pads, colored pencils and seed catalogs. I have done this many winters in the past and summer saw varying amounts of gardening success but almost always ended in weedy, half-brown beds. I tend to dream big. Too big for the time, money and energy required to create what I wanted. But my failures over the years taught me some good lessons. I learned what I can handle in terms of the physical work, tools required, and what’s a waste of money versus the you-get-what-you-pay-for. I’ve learned varieties of plants and vegetables that do well or not so well in my yard. Turns out that just because I buy local seeds and plants for my gardening zone doesn’t mean they will thrive well no matter what the package says.

I have a quarter acre lot in a subdivision that was once a tobacco field. The tobacco was last planted in 2000. We bought our home in 2003. We have never used herbicides, pesticides or non-organic fertilizers on our property but our next door neighbors do, although not to excess I think. Some square footage is taken up by the house and other structures. I used to blissfully ignore differences in light, soil structure, soil moisture and pH but the lessons learned in planting failures has made their importance almost instinctual as I move about my yard. Another factor in my plans for this year is the animals. The pic here is my backyard as it looks currently. We used to have nice, soft beautiful grass. I am in awe of the Power of Chickens. Those cute little fluffy butts have claws that are by turns either amazing soil aerators or amazing tools of total destruction. And then there’s our labrador. I’m certain he has a genetic predisposition to dig to China. And to never go to the bathroom in the same place twice. Our border collie was not a problem until he decided it was fun to join the Lab in the quest for China.

This week I erected an fairly inexpensive wire fence to divide the backyard in half. My husband is making a gate for the steps on the back porch so the dogs can only access one side of the backyard. There is also a food safety issue with the lab who likes to poop where ever. Poop on the vegetables is not good. We were able to train the collie to go in the same place very time but the lab just doesn’t get it. Today I am going to shape a tube of chicken wire to lead from the coop run to the “animal” side of the yard. This is popularly known as a “chunnel” but I’ve noticed that pictures on the internet show it as just a tunnel with sides and a top. I can tell you the chickens will scratch down and since my chunnel will run along the back fence I don’t want them to be able to scratch dirt out from under the fence where either they or predators could squeeze under. This will give me protected garden space to start permaculture beds.

I will not be building beds per se. I will build paths and the beds will be formed as the space left between the pathways. I’ve drawn inspiration from several design sources including the Canmore Community Garden Society, Utah State University, Family Food & Garden and Halifax Garden Network. It is also very important to me to incorporate sacred space as an integral part of my garden. I’m inspired by The Druid’s Garden, Scribbling With Spirit, The Art in Life, and Creating a Sacred Space in Our Garden.

Updates to come as my garden takes shape over the Spring and Summer. Deep Peace of the Quiet Earth to You!

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