Laurie let me borrow her camera. I wanted to capture my experimentation preparing the bed on the north side.
By the way, in the beginning I had trouble motivating myself to plant (will cut potatoes in a mulch pit do anything other than rot? The uncertainties were huge). Then I read in _Permaculture: A Designers' Manual_ that all seeds can be soaked prior to planting. Soaking seeds is easy, but once I do that, I know that after a day I have to plant them in a flat or in the ground. So that motivates me to get flats made and filled. When the plants get too big for their flats, I get motivated to prepare the ground for planting them.
The west half is going to be done with the sheet mulch approach, or something like it.
The east half is being prepared for double-digging (Jeavons' style). The ground should be watered to soften it up (sometimes) and then let dry a bit. This bed was long ago covered with tarpaper and gravel (now in a pile on the east end). Joe, the north side neighbor, has long been planting in his strip.
This used to be a neglected, never-visited space, but that is about to change. It is a nice compromise: some exposure to the street and people walking by, but not too much exposure to the cars.
The near constant shade on the south side makes it nice to work on during the day.
A drawback is that Joe's resident daughter has kids with whom she rarely interacts without whining or screaming. Sometimes, then, this is a pleasant space, and other times it is a window on a mini-hell. There's more to it but that is enough. Nhat Hanh suggests that by viewing with compassion, this need not be experienced as hell by the observer. So I try that.
Even so, maybe one day I shall garden on a monastery.
Another challenge is that I really don't know what I'm doing. Sometimes as I water, I think to myself, "I don't have a clue what I'm doing!": how much to water, how to plant, what to plant. How not to obsess too much, how not to spend too much time. And on and on.
I'd love to have people come and help, but half the time I spend trying to figure out what to do myself.
Eventually that will change.
The view to the west. That is my grandma in the back. Before I started this project, you could not even walk around that corner of the house (the shrub and chicken wire closed it).
This photo is to show where the bees are in relation to everything else. The beautiful 55-gallon rainwater collection barrel was scavenged.
As you can see, it is almost two-thirds full!
The idea to put the bees on the roof came in part from Urban Wilds.
I'm always amazed at how a huge pile of yard waste compresses. I had just collected this the day before. . . or that morning, if this was Friday morning. I get up early (5am) and scavenge yard waste before the yard waste collection truck comes to get it. It is hard work, but fun.
I got huge amounts this Friday and filled the paths too. I also had clipped the hedges by hand and put the mulch down below the plants. I plan to put dirt on it and plant flowers in it to help attract good insects.
In the past I have clipped with an electric hedge clipper. Clipping by hand was good. And I have the time.
Oh. There is a special kind of sweet potato waiting to be planted sitting on the garden bed. It should sprout more, and then you plant the sprouts. Paul brought it--I need to double check with him on the propagation.
This is just two days after an earlier roof photo:
Has anything grown (or been trimmed?).
This is why I climbed on the roof. The view of the bed I'm preparing.
The bees again.
Here's the bed with more mulch (I had to scavenge from what I put in the paths). I made paths through it too (sort of like a question mark or a toilet gooseneck valve).
I tried to return the camera Friday night, but Laurie wasn't home. So the slideshow continues Saturday morning.
In the front of the potato bed is a new flat I made the night before. Some seeds I had soaked too long ago were begging to be put in the soil. There's an amaranth just to the north of it. I have also planted a beet top and carrot tops in the bed to the left (not visible). The beet top is growing greens!
The famous cabbages, donated by Kimberly. The middle one is aphid food. The others have some aphid guests, except for the bottom one, the biggest and prettiest, which had a cabbage worm, which I went out and squished early one morning in the dark with a flashlight.
The aphid-eaten cabbage. I have squished some and washed off others, but mostly I don't worry about it.
Here you can see Jerusalem Artichoke (donated by Paul--these were what forced me to plant the garden, they could not delay any more out of the soil!). There is a beet or chard. Cilantro. Basil (soon to be moved to a roomier spot). The ubiquitous Chenopodium, and peas at the top. A restaurant had thrown away 50+ carrot tops and a box of carrot peelings, so I used some to feed the worms, and tried some as mulch.
I don't have a picture, but I was collecting urine to fertilize the garden. It smells a lot if you leave it sitting around. And then I sprayed in on the garden (using a siphon technique) so the whole place smelled! I think I'll just pour out a little bit at a time now, instead of saving it in a 5-gallon bucket.
This is the flat with garbanzo beans and jiffy time popcorn that is begging me to prepare the bed on the north side so it has a better place to grow.
I have some more native corn varieties in the flat that was on the potato/ mulch bed. There are pole beans in that other flat too.
These are sweet potatoes and two sunflowers. The sweet potatoes began as shoots from a sweet potato with one end stuck in water (only I chopped mine into pieces, but if you do that only roots will grow out of one end, and only shoots out of the other).
Making flats and flatsoil has taken some practice. One I made is almost like an adobe brick, unfortunately.
The west half of the north bed from the roof. It has a gravel path.
Later I covered it with the gravel/topsoil mix I removed from the east half.
I actually have a garden notebook.
Part of this is reminding me to look up Bill Toone of the eco-life foundation, who has an impressive rainwater collection system at his house.
Also there is a note that I don't live in San Diego. But "Montezuma Mesa" may be the best statement of my location. I'm about twelve miles from downtown. And it is a sort of messed up colonization effect where a bunch of people who live further east from me are organizing a reclaim the streets event for downtown. . . and other things like that.
I find I'm happier the less I move around on the roads of the urbanscape of "San Diego," and one way to move around less is to remind myself I live on Montezuma Mesa. Anything not on the mesa (I'm defining as: SDSU south to University and east to 70th) is far away, and trips should probably not be made that far more than once a month.
The contrast of that way of living to the way most people with cars live is significant. I can point to my grandma for some inspiration.
These two days working on the garden, I did not even leave to go to the Kroc center (south on University--a 15-minute walk). The furthest I went was to the campus plaza/ vons shopping center (three blocks? major streets crossed only on the way to Laurie's), and yet I had plenty to interest and exercise me.
A record of where things were planted in the main/spiral bed. Top is south.
Another photo of the seedlings who have outgrown their flat.
The bed in the morning. The digging board is on the ground. That was also scavenged from a dumpster.
Some pretty flowers. By the way, I found two four leaf clovers in the sheetmulch bed.
Double-digging the east end of the north bed. Picture-taking is a break excuse.
You move soil from one trench to the other. Put some compost in the new trench, and work compost in with a digging fork into the bottom of the new trench. That is a very short version of how to do it.
All done. I put gravel down for the path. Later I put a layer of the gravel/topsoil on top of the rest of the double-dug bed.
The soil there is very clayey, and I probably should have added sand (if I had any) when/ before the double-digging.
I was very tired, apparently, after two days of straight garden work. So I rested most of Sunday, and didn't plant the plants in the flat into the bed until Monday afternoon. I still have to go back and plant the rest of the corn (ten more or so?).
Hmm, I was planting the popcorn on 15" spacing (the spacing for sweet corn in Jeavons' book), but I thought I read somewhere it was less. Here it says 8-12". So I'll put the rest closer together.
I'm finally eating things from the garden! Mostly the lambs' quarters (weeds) but also some of the lettuce/mustard.
Watermelon has sprouted!