Up to this point, my garden has been a monoculture. A monoculture focuses on one crop or one type of crop; in my case vegetables. (Think ‘Banana Republic’ – and I don’t mean the store!) Consequently, the garden is difficult to care for; it takes hours of toil per week, sometimes upwards of six hours a week when (at times) I’d rather be spending six hours a month. It is a lot to keep up with especially with other goals, responsibilities, and vacations. A monoculture is also notoriously susceptible to plant diseases and blights as well as parasitic bugs and mildews. I have been researching the idea of permaculture, setting up a more sustainable ecosystem in one’s own backyard. With that in mind, I will be working toward augmenting my garden with beneficial perennials that will feed birds and bugs, provide shade where needed, increase the health of the soil, and most importantly help build my garden into a more complete ecosystem that can hopefully survive a couple days longer than normal without my care. I will rely heavily on the beautiful book, Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway. It provides a wealth of advice to help me make my journey from monoculture to permaculture a reality.
Yard waste has also become a problem. Hubby and I are very good at working in the yard for hours at a time, but we must stop when we run out of room to throw out yard waste. A viable composting system will alleviate this and will help return fertility back to the soil. I have begun tossing green kitchen waste in my composter (aka the green machine) and with the help of a leaf shredder/ mulcher I would like to continue the process. Mulching vegetable beds and the fruit tree mini-orchard will also keep a damper on those pernicious weeds. That will surely cut down monotonous work in the garden and save time for the more important work of planting, watering, and tending.
So, to sum up, here is my two-fold goal for going green(er) in the garden:
- Plant four beds with the idea of permaculture in mind, expanding on multiple purposes of plants while encouraging a healthy mini ecosystem.
- Reduce yard wasted to almost nil – all plants should be composted minus diseased specimens, over-large branches, or palm fronds.