I like gardens, so when I got back home after 2 years around the world, I felt like giving a hit to that 100 square meters behind my grandma's house. And man it was fun.
The whole idea at the beginning was to experiment with guilds and produce some tomatoes, then it evolved into something more. It is now a food producing, living lab, fresh-microclimate provider, with an embedded audio by courtesy of the many birds and insects passing by.
Working in the garden should be a pleasure
But it wasn't always like this. I mean, mosquito-wise yes, but before the place was poor with life, quite simple (read: fragile and boring), and less colorful.
Don't want to bore you with the details, but I'll put some design notes in this article. Now I just want to share some happiness for reaching version 0.1 of this garden, called 20 steps because well, that's all it takes you to get from one end of it to another.
The road to it..
.. was quite smooth, with the occasional bump.
Working the soil is not that fun by hand. One of the reasons I like regenerative ecosystems is that you usually invest a lot of work upfront but then kick back and do a light maintenance. Why do more than that.
There was a lot of digging, a lot of resources patiently collected in a month or so (I was working as a personal driver at the time, so had many chances of peeking in many trashes!), and some social tension when I told my grandmother to put the kitchen scraps in the garden. A shit, I tell you, that was the best part. A ton of horseshit, I love playing with that stuff.
Anyway, the game was finding those otherwise boring works enjoyable, so we called for a few friends here to work and then eat all together, made it a game with my 9 yo brother, and I entered a friendly competition with my neighbor who also started his veggie garden at about the same time. He produced more that year, if we ignore the fruit tree production, but his soil now sucks, while mine is a brown gold. If you ask him, of course, he produced more and my garden is a mess, so I'd say each one won its own way.
Snow is a decent mulch too
.. and then the results
I was quite satisfied with the results. The soil is way better now, there is an automated irrigation system, and even though production is not at the peak yet (should get there next year), I already harvested pumpkins, corn, many cabbages, nettle, tomatoes, onions, chilly, and herbs like parsley, sage, basil, rosemary and more. Not bad, for a place that also gave me some great insights.
Other yields are a ton of cuttings, seeds and plants that I used to guerrilla garden in the area, so I can boost production using abandoned public places for next years.
Some nice experiments include a capillarity string watering (yeah, didn't work well), worm towers in the ground (worked pretty well), and trying to adapt some species to more shady conditions.
Beside, it has many flowers like borage, watercress (it doesn't need that much water, what do you know), marigold and calendula, all edible, and many insects which I don't know if are edible, haven't tried yet frankly.
One of the best results is that some friend got excited by it and I've helped doing their place too, hoping to push further this geometric expansion of regenerative self production of food-
Yeah well, I've done some disturbingly silly things in here.
A proper organic mulch looks so great!
From the pictures you may see how shady everything is: and I've pruned already this year! I decided to plant an hazelnut in the deep shade, shading everything even more. Yes I did. I had big plans of getting it to go towards the roof and all, but I'm now waiting for the autumn to remove it and use it to guerrilla garden.
I often lose what I plant. I don't know how that happens. I lost the cucumber plants at one point last year, only to find a ripe cucumber a few months later. The other cucumbers just disappeared.
I underplanted the groundcover layer. I focused a lot on mulching to build the soil in the first year, but now there are too many spots without plants, and that is not helping. That is also because I plant small saplings, than I forget about them and just cover them in my psychotic relationship with mulch.
All in all, it could have been worst =)
Cool, isn't it?
This was a rather small area. If you have some place, consider that working it doesn't need to be a stress, but a pleasure and a trip of wonder in the field of natural sciences, and a puzzle game in how to fit all you can together and optimize the whole system for your yields.