Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Permaculture Test Patch

this spring, The White House [on the corner] experienced the birth of the Permaculture Test patch. Shawn and i have been dreaming of building an off-grid community, and when we discovered Permaculture the fruition of such a dream seemed much more likely. before venturing off into the sticks with a herd of hippies and a sack of seed, we agreed that it would be best to start small.

Permaculture is about more than a vegetable garden.. the idea behind Permaculture is a combination of permanent agriculture, and permanent culture. building a sustainable, self sufficient food forest, and a community to live within it. not only do we have a space in the yard to attempt a sustainable garden, but we have a small community of people that are either tenants or friends of The House. we couldn't have asked for a better opportunity for Permaculture practice.

we started with a space of approximately 12 by 18 feet, which had once long ago been a vegetable garden, but has since grown over with grass and clover. the space was properly edged, scraped of grass [which was used to fill holes in the neighboring field], and dug to be mixed with 2 yards of triple mix. a visit to the local re-store scored us a cheap composter, and a nearby feed store had clover seed for 3 dollars a pound, which we decided would be our living mulch.

at first, introducing the idea of a vegetable garden to the house was welcomed with little enthusiasm. but as soon as the project began, we were surprised by how many showed to get involved. everyone in the house and many friends came together to prepare the ground and move the dirt. the garden has since become a gathering place. weeding brings groups together for a good conversation, or provides a relaxing solo meditation to clear the mind and lighten the heart.

it's now mid-june, and the garden is starting to take shape. early strawberries have already ripened, a large bowl of salad is ready every couple of days, and the herbs are full and plentiful. as the season progresses each week will bring forth a new bounty. the cucumbers peppers and tomatoes have all started to flower, and surprisingly even the blueberries are showing signs that they may fruit this year.

i plan to use this blog to keep track of our progress and errors, and to share and welcome ideas. and also, of course, to encourage others to give gardening a try. you can produce your own food with any amount of space, you don't necessarily need a backyard to grow. buckets on a balcony or even window planters can provide space for fresh herbs and veggies, there are even many species of vegetables that are bred to be grown in small spaces. grab some dirt and get your grow on!

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