Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays to All!

A heart-felt "Thank you!" to all of you who have "reconnected" through Reconnect Farm in 2014. You participated in workshops and classes, bought seedlings and produce, planned backyard farms, and shared in the dream of deep interdependence with the natural world around us. We are becoming a community of like-minded folks working to restore connection with the sun, soil, seasons, healthy sustenance, and each other.

It is our hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season and an abundant new year! I'm looking forward to seeing you in 2015!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Phase 2: Through!

Want to grow a lot of food in the small space of your yard, but don't know where to start? I can help you with a custom backyard farm plan. Your yard can begin to look like this one!

In Phase 1 of my latest permaculture transformation, I installed three raised beds for a senior who's looking to garden for years to come. My next step was to dig a 2' wide x 6" deep swale using this homemade A-frame level to make sure I dig level with to the contour of the hill.
I moved the dirt to the downhill side of the property, creating a mound (a berm). The elevated area will become a perennial vegetable growing area, and the swale, when filled in with organic material like these wood chips, will catch gallons and gallons of water on the property, releasing it for the surrounding plants to use. It will also serve as a walking path.
After filling in the swale with wood chips, I covered the berm in a thick layer of newspaper (no glossy ads included) and covered it with some of our wonderful, black compost.
It looked pretty good when finished - and it's just begging to grow something!
Next, I moved two bluberry bushes from the shady front yard to the permaculture area in the backyard, and planted them with two other blueberry bushes for easy pickin'.
Then came more newspaper mulching, covering with compost, and defining walking paths with wood chips. It was a lot of work, but the finished areas are highly functional, fertile, accessible, and ready for some spring planting.
Here's the finished area so far:
The next step will be to prep the food forest area in much the same way. That work begins next week. I'll keep you informed of my progress! Need help with your backyard farm transformation? I'll be glad to help!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Phase 1: It's Begun!

As part of my new Custom Backyard Farm planning service, I'm enjoying watching a project go from conception to completion. And it brings great joy to know that this particular project is going to help a dear senior who attended my "Create a Farm in Your Backyard" class be able to have access to the joys of gardening for many, many years to come. So here's what we started with:
It's a beautiful yard with well generous, well cared-for soil and great diversity of annual and perennial plant species. My client has worked hard in her yard for decades, and she knows a thing or two about gardening! But we needed to organize the space a bit more to encourage accessibility and to incorporate some permaculture design elements. Here's the plan I drew up for her:
After going over the solar survey, site survey, and my report including initial observations, potential obstacles, permaculture design principles, and recommended next steps, she agreed that we should get started! So here was step one:
We hated to take down this dogwood tree, but its location on the southwest corner of the site was causing a shading problem over our target area. It's all good, because NONE of this tree was wasted (I'll show you how we did that) and many more trees will be planted in better locations to take its place. Here's what we did to "save" the tree:
Part one of the plan was to build cinderblock raised beds. After leveling the blocks and laying the frame, I dug deep into the bed and threw the parts of the tree in. This is a classic hugelkultur-type technique in which nothing goes to waste. I followed this procedure two more times, filling each box with compost. The edges of the cinderblocks have holes that I filled with dirt and compost that she can use for smaller fruits and vegetables like strawberries, bunching onions, leaf lettuce, and such. Here's the finished product:
Next step: dig out the paths to make water-retaining swales, line with newspaper, and fill with wood chips. Then build up the future perennial vegetable area and the food forest area. More pics to come when that phase is done!

Do you want a farm in your backyard but don't know where to begin? I can help! Go to the "Custom Backyard Farm Plans" page for more info and contact me when you're ready for a consultation.