What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

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Saturday, 6 November 2010

A pre freeze harvest

This premature harvest was brought on by a forecast for several nights of below freezing temps in our area. Here is good portion of my pre freeze harvest, you can see way too many green tomatoes, a pile of basil, a basket full of radishes w/greens on, a load of green peppers and a few that had time to turn red, and my personal favorite, a bag of nettles, half of which ended up in the evenings chili. I also cut a bunch of parsley, spearmint, lemon balm, lemon grass, and basil for the freezer. I harvested most of the stevia both for the leaves and the hopefully some seed.

That was yesterday, today I snipped all the tomato plants off and chopped them into the compost heap, I then layered a bit of composted horse manure, some topsoil, winter rye grass seed, and some hay mulch over one of the beds. Tomorrow I'll do another nearby bed and add a soaker hose to them both. I've ended up with quite a lot of soaker hose that I found on my scavenging rounds since we arrived in May. I found the hay for the mulch on the side of the road as well. The winter rye is intended to help break down the manure and will create green mulch. We hope to let it grow tall enough to make some hay and possibly give us some grain to experiment with. It is an annual so what we don't harvest will die back when the weather heats up next year.


mizizkinard said...

Hi, I am new to gardening and want to be sure I understand you. I read about cover crops and assume you are doing this with the rye seeds. Are you also composting directly over the bed and mulching over that? If so, will you turn it to aerate like compost, or will it naturally break down and feed the seeds? Just curious since it sounds so practical.

C Robb said...

Indeed, the winter rye is the cover crop, I haven't found a source for clover or vetch or some other nitrogen fixer so I went with what was available locally. The bed had tomoatoes, basil, peppers, and marigold over hay mulch. When I cut the them I left the stumps and roots in place so as not to disturb soil structure. I've added a thin layer of horse manure to help break down the hay and to replenish the bed. Over that I've added a thin layer of topsoil and more hay mulch on top, no tilling. In the spring I will cut the rye and let it lay on top of the mulch. I plan to add some depth to the raised bed frame with 2x6's and thus have room to add yet more soil and compost mixed with leafmould. This will be the planting medium for the spring crop. Still no tilling.
My inspiration for this method is "One Straw Revolution" by Fukuoka as well as basic permaculture practice. These beds are brand new this year so I am attempting to establish a nice deep healthy soil community. The new layers are fairly thin so aeration should not be a problem. Also, the worms will help as well as the decaying roots of this years harvest. The rye will help process the manure and then become green manure, a less harsh form for the next crop.

mizizkinard said...

I am making myself familiar with permaculture and will check out the book you mention. This sounds so easy. I have been reading that most gardeners would have started with making the soil healthy(as a do over) and so I will focus on that first. The information about leafmoulds and cover crops helps tremendously. Keep this wealth of info coming and Thank you for responding so quickly!

C Robb said...

No problem, I absolutely agree that healthy living soil is imperative and I see my task as being a soil builder first, a grower next. Good luck and thanks for stopping by my site.

Potted Vegetable Garden said...

I must admit I feel lucky to live in the subtropics. We do get frosts, but they are uncommon.

C Robb said...

It is an interesting challenge, one I dealt with when I lived in England, ways to extend the season. An opportunity for creativity. here is this years idea.