It took a while but through my organic investigations I ran across permaculture. I have been reading ferociously over the last two months and this final piece of the puzzle seems to be what I was looking for. I want to grow organic but also put the whole piece of land to use. The permaculture techniques will be the guidelines for converting he garden into something a bit more self sustaining and lower maintenance.
The beds have now taken on a more natural shape without the raised wooden borders. Seems we as human’s try to control nature but nature just want’s to relaz and goi with the flow. With this in mind I have tried to now design the beds along the contours of the garden. Above each bed is a swale so that the water during what is now our rainy season will soak into the ground instead of running off the garden into the sewer system.
My second step is to use a sort of hugelkultuur approach to the beds. They are double dug but before adding the top layer I put down log’s and sticks to add a more long term organic component. These logs should break down slowly and as they do hold more moisture. As I add organic matter from the top this will help build raised beds that are really swarming with life. No digging required and I will plant perennial herbs among the vegetables.
My third strategy is to use a bit of a companion planting system to keep the pests in order and help each other out. John Jeavon’s book showing the intensive planting strategy really is useful in setting up the spacing. If I now mix up the vegetables along the way I won’t have a patch of each vegetable but rather a mix where each grow’s at it’s own pace and I can fill in the gaps as I go along the season. I’ll still be rotating but by mixing things up I’m hoping that I won’t have any easy targets that the mono-cropping tends to have. Time will tell.