The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Renovating the back garden

Permanent beds in the back gardenOur back garden is a trouble spot.  As I've mentioned before, previous owners had a pasture there and I suspect allowed all of the topsoil to erode away.  What's left is dense clay over a high water table --- a recipe for crop failure.

And then there are the problems that are my own fault.  When I built the back garden's raised beds, I believed it was best to merely scoop up the topsoil from the aisles to create the beds.  But there was so little topsoil present that the beds turned out to be barely higher than the surrounding aisles.  A couple of years later, the beds have collapsed a bit more, which means that the grass and clover in the pathways encroach constantly on the "beds", and grass seeds also drift up into the growing area as a matter of course.  Yet more problems.

Again my fault --- I was new to pathway planning when I laid out the back garden, so for some reason I can no longer fathom, I created a checkerboard of tiny beds.  Mowing takes twice as long since you have to go across the garden horizontally, then again vertically.  Yuck!  Can you tell this is my least favorite gardening spot?

I took advantage of Mark's load of topsoil (aka "compost") to start fixing all of the back garden's problems.  First step --- merge all of the beds on a contour line into a single long bed by dumping topsoil in the dividing aisles.  Suddenly, I wanted two more truckloads of soil so that I could also build up the empty beds (which had been planted in buckwheat and are waiting to be planted in oats next week.)  My goal is to create a replica of my current favorite garden --- the mule garden --- with long raised beds at least six inches high.  Then I could start to consider the high groundwater a boon --- subirrigation!

Our homemade chicken waterer provides constant clean water for your flock.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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