More Garden Works

This weekend we tackled the backyard. We’re installing a small lawn around the new patio and path. There will also be a border for culinary herbs with a herb spiral at the center, lined up with the stone circle, where the wild lilies are now coming up.

The permacultural ideal is to close all the loops and, for instance, to use only on site materials. We’re succeeding in this with the top soil, as we’re reusing the material that was excavated for the patio and path. That soil was of course seeded with stones, which we first need to sieve out. For this we quickly created  a new setup: the sieving table.

We constructed a table for our old soil sieve, which just sits on top of it, high enough so the big wheelbarrow fits underneath it. We just scrape the stones off the sieve with our shovels, into the garden cart. It works great, saves us a lot of time, hassle, and backache.

With regard to the compost, however, we had to have some brought in. I just didn’t make enough of it myself, even with the occasional ten pounds of coffee grounds from the local Starbucks and my neighbors’ pumpkins. Though, really now, I should ramp up my composting operations. But, for now…

I was so disappointed with the stuff we got last year from one of these “landscape depots” – basically semi-composted brush, leaf mulch and wood chips  – that it took me quite a while to decide on this year’s product. I chose Great Brook Farm’s composted cow manure. They’re not far from here (Carlisle) so it was good to get it locally, from a family owned business, and from one source – their 130 Holsteins. It is twice as expensive as the landscape depot stuff ($40 vs. $21 per yard) but, I was assured, also four times as effective. And we won’t have to sift out the stones. And it won’t turn to cement on us…

The farmer brought 12 yards yesterday and the moment he opened the back of his truck I knew we had made the right decision. It’s odorless, crumbly and fluffy. We have it all piled up on the side of our driveway, in our “materials depot,” next to a pile of red oak wood chips for our Oyster mushrooms.

We chatted with the farmer about compost and he made a great observation. He said the compost and loam business is a lot like the drugs business: they cut it and cut it and cut it.

This stuff?


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