Sunday, August 8, 2010

Garden in the city

A woman in Seattle turned her backyard into a sustainable garden that supports the local ecosystem and requires no chemical intervention.

First, she determined where the sun fell, what the soil was like, how the rainwater flowed and where it collected. She cleaned out the area, removing everything (dead tree, ivy, overgrown shrubs and some lawn), and enriched the sandy soil with coffee grounds from local coffee shops.

Next, she designed the garden to pretty much take care of itself using tough, durable varieties of leafy and flowering plants as well as edible plants and herbs. The plants provide food and shelter for the rabbits, hens and other fowl she keeps as well as wild birds and other wildlife. The animals provide fertilizer and the fowl provide eggs.

The rabbits actually live in a hutch and the fertilizer is collect and distributed. She spins the fur of the angora rabbits into yarn. The chickens have an attractive coop to live in at night. During the day they live in a bottomless pen that is moved around for them to scratch to soil and fertilize.

Rainwater is collected in cisterns from her house roof and used in the summer for watering the garden. In the garden is a composting fence topped with an arbor. The leaves fill the fence and decompose and the arbor is draped with kiwi and grape vines. She also turns manure, animal bedding, yard waste and kitchen scraps into compost for use in the garden beds.

The sitting area for humans is composed of crushed rock, landscape fabric, an inch of sand and then topped with stones and 1' square pavers. The vegetable gardens are in raised beds. Fruit trees (Asian pear, apples and Italian prune plums) have blueberry bushes growing underneath them, with strawberries growing under the blueberry plants.

She's made good use of all of the 60' square area she created this functional and beautiful backyard in.

Another interesting planting idea that I recently read about:

Take an area in your yard that is a pain to mow and remove the grass. Then drive a 66" piece of re-bar into the ground 2'. Surround the base with newspaper and place a 12" or larger pot at the base. You feed the re bar through the hole in the bottom of the pot... generally clay pots would be the choice of pot to use. Fill that pot with soil. Tamp the soil down so it is fairly firm and able to support the weight of the next pot. Thread your next pots over the re bar, filling each with soil before you put the next pot on the re bar. Cant the pots to the side and use the pot below it to hold it (cant one to the left, next to the right, next to the left, etc). The pots that are threaded on after the base pot should be smaller than the base pot. Even graduating smaller pots up the re bar would be attractive. Be sure to leave about 1.5" of space at the top of each pot so the soil won't run out when you water. Next, chose some nice trailing foliage, flowers, or herbs to the pots and water. You might want to add some mulch over the newspaper to hold it down and make the event look "finished".


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