Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Back Yard Project: New Garden Bed

I am so pleased the trench is now filled because it means I can get going on establishing the new garden bed. It is actually an extension of a smaller bed that consisted of weed cloth and river stones around a Douglas-fir tree so the soil was deprived of its food source from above. A track came down the hill close to the tree compacting its root zone even more. 
I have marked out a new track that is equidistant between the trees. This track has determined the boundary of the new extension of the garden bed. I am defining this boundary by building a wall using the rock uncovered by the trench digging. It is granite that was blasted and dug out when making a space for the house foundations and lower living level. This in-situ sourced rock works with the geomorphology of the land, unlike the imported river stone. To my eye, a bed of river stone suggests a seasonal torrent of water flowing down the hill beside the house, which visually generates a most unsettling feeling.
The first step in making the new bed is to sprinkle glacial rock dust to stimulate the soil organisms. 

Next is to provide the soil organisms with food. A layer of paper is laid down. We collect all of our used paper for this purpose. Then a thick layer of cardboard is laid on top. Any cardboard with a shiny finish is rejected and put in the city recycling bags for them to deal with the non-organic ink chemicals.
The cardboard is food for the organisms, particularly the worms and wood lice. It also suffocates grasses which I am particularly keen to eliminate from the forest.


Next a layer of coffee grounds and coffee filters is spread over the cardboard. With the warmer weather, there are more tea leaves as people switch to cold drinks such as iced teas.
I have saved all of the plain cardboard and paper packaging from all of the materials, and equipment brought onto the construction site to build the studio. Now it is all flattened and under coffee grounds.

Next layer is made up from sticks/snags and rotting wood as a source of food and homes for another range of bugs. Tree litter that falls on the driveway is swept up and added to the mix.

While working on this bed I have made a new discovery. I really enjoy placing stones to make them fit together. When I have a spare hour I find myself outside building this stonewall.
The challenge with this new bed is keeping it watered so the soil organisms can do their job. The whole irrigation system was destroyed when the construction road was made so the new bed will have to be hand watered during our dry season. I have yet to decide about when and what to plant, but I do know the whole bed needs some sort of protective cover layer in the meantime.

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