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Back To Eden Garden 2.0

March 26, 2017 Leave a comment

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Prior to my long blog posting hiatus, I had a 40 x 20 Back to Eden garden in my backyard.  I loved the beauty of the garden.  The wood mulches gave it such a natural landscape and also kept the soil most and teeming with biological activity.

However, after several seasons, I started to realize some of the drawback of the Back to Eden approach.  I will detail these in a future post.  In an effort to solve some of the problems, I decided to combine the Back to Eden approach with raised bed square foot gardening.  This gave birth to version 2.0 of my Back to Eden Garden which has now been in place for three years now.

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I love the efficient use of space in this garden design. It more than doubles the amount of growing space while sharing the same footprint as the old garden.  The beds also make it very easy to follow the square foot gardening approach for plant placement and spacing.  Best of all, the garden look like the work an artistic engineer rather than the disorganized chaos that I often see in other gardens.

I’ve been using this garden for the past couple of years and still think that it is the best design to maximize the growing space in the southeastern 40 feet x 20 feet section of my backyard.

After a whole winter of no plantings, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the coming of Spring so I can put finally put my garden to work.  Last weekend, to my delight, I found tomato and pepper plants at Costco.  They became the first addition to my Spring garden.

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While the garden makeover did solve many problems, I have still continued to struggle over the past couple of years with squirrels plundering my crop.  They seem to love everything in the cabbage family, including cabbage, collard, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi.  And their hunger became even more ravenous during the winter when their natural food supplies are low.  I got so discouraged at seeing beds of new planted seedlings destroyed in just days that I gave up growing these crops completely.

This weekend while visiting Home Depot, I saw that they were fully stocked on all of the squirrels’ favorite delicacies.  I decided to give it a go again.  I purchased and planted close to 50 of these seedlings.

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To protect the cabbage family seedlings from the squirrels, I constructed four chicken-wire covered tunnels of 4 foot length.

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After the hard work was done, I shared a well-deserved watermelon snack with the free-range bunnies.

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Spring Garden

April 28, 2013 Leave a comment

I started my spring garden two weekends ago with the planting of corn, eggplant, bell pepper, crooked-neck squash, straight-neck squash and zucchini squash. Since then, an unusual amount of traveling has kept me from finishing my spring plantings. I was starting to get a bit concerned that if I wait any longer the stores would stop carrying spring vegetables. I went to Lowe’s today and was surprised to find that they were fairly well stocked so I went on a shopping spree to make up for lost time. I started planting in the morning. By noon, the rain which had been forecasted for the entire weekend finally graced us with its presence. Undeterred, I continued working in my rain suit and by the end of the day my backyard was finally starting to resemble a garden.

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My spring garden now consists of:

1 oregano
1 spicy oregano
1 stevia
1 lemon balm
1 orange mint
2 German thyme
2 red bell pepper
2 orange petite bell pepper
2 rosemary
2 sweet basil
3 yellow bell pepper
4 Japanese eggplant
4 corn
4 husky cherry red tomato
8 black beauty eggplant
8 spaghetti squash
8 sweet potato
8 Georgia hybrid collard
8 asparagus

Here are some pictures.

Corn:

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Black Beauty eggplant:

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Red, yellow, and green bell pepper:

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Japanese eggplant:

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Spaghetti squash:

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Cherry tomato:

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Sweet potato:

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Stevia:

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Orange mint:

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Lemon balm:

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Asparagus:

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Spicy oregano:

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German thyme:

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Sweet basil:

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Rosemary:

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Crooked-neck, straight-neck, and zucchini squash:

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Georgia hybrid collards:

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Oregano:

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In addition, there are still some remnants from the winter garden:

1 flat leave parsley
1 cilantro
2 carrot
8 cabbage
22 Swiss chard

The parsley, cilantro and Swiss chards are looking prehistoric with their enormous size. One of the carrot plant’s leafy top is now at my waist height. I hope this is indicative of the size of the carrot underground.

Here are some pictures of these monster winter plants. I’ve included a 5 gallon bucket in some of the pictures for size reference.

Cabbage:

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Carrot:

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Flat leaf parsley:

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Clantro:

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Swiss Chard:

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Fall Garden Kickoff

October 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Not wanting to make the same mistake as I did on my summer garden, I got off to an early start on my fall garden this week. I bought two batches from Home Depot of:

  • kolrabi
  • spinach
  • swiss chard
  • red lettuce
  • brussel sprouts

Since my thai basil from my summer garden got afflicted with some kind of disease, I also got some replace thai basil.

Everything is in the ground now and the garden plot is now completely full. As soon as the watermelons ripen and the patch is cleared out, I will have more space to plant.

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Planting labels from this week’s planting:

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This spring I started out my edible garden adventure with a 3 ft x 20 ft raised bed for my spring garden. After seeing good results with this garden, my new found enthusiasm led to the creation of my 20 ft x 40 ft summer garden plot. Given that this space was 10 times larger than my spring garden, I was certain the would the end of my lawn to edible garden conversion in the backyard. However, after seeing the watermelon patch take over half of this plot, I decided to extend my edible garden. I had already used up all the mulch from the pine tree which was cut down in my back yard. Coincidentally, the local community garden had several truckload of mulch that hadn’t being put to use. When I recently brought the community garden leader a trailer load of rabbit manure for his fall garden, he told me I could have the rest of the mulch at the community garden. Seven trailer loads later, my backyard was nearly 75% mulched giving me the ability to create at least another 20 ft x 40 ft garden plot.

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Given the plan to further expand my garden space, I also embarked on a parallel expansion of my rain harvesting by doubling the number of rain tanks. With 13 330 gallon rain tanks, I now have the capacity to harvest 4,300 gallons of rain water. Whereas, the last set of rain tanks were set on three rows of cinderblocks, the new set are now set on four rows to allow for even large compost bins.

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100 Cubic Yards of Mulch… Yes, 100.

August 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Unfortunately, all my sources of free mulch has dried up. Only half of the orchard has been mulched. The other half of the orchard is cleared so I have been anxious to get it covered with mulch to prevent soil quality degradation, soil erosion, and weed/kudzu growth. It’s been great getting free mulch, however, seeing how I wanted to finish the orchard this year, I finally broke down and decided to pay for mulch.

The remaining orchard space is approximately 10,000 square feet and to cover that with 4 inches of mulch, I needed approximately 100 cubic yards of mulch. So just how much mulch is that? To put it into perspective, the standard bag of mulch you get at the store is 2 cubic FEET which translates of 0.07 cubic yard. So, 100 cubic feet is equivalent to 1,428 bags of the mulch you would get in the store. Since this mulch is not for decoration, I was interested in “single ground” mulch which is produced when tree limbs are passed through the chipper once.

When I inquired about my purchase, I was a bit surprised when the vendor told me the mulch would be delivered in one load. This is because the standard dump trucks have a capacity somewhere between 15 to 20 cubic yards so I fully expected that multiple loads would have to be made. I interrogated the vendor on the dimensions of the truck’s cargo space just to make sure that I would be getting what I was paying for. He provided me with dimensions of 53 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, and 13.5 feet high and clarified that the entire cargo space would be filled. By my calculations, this actually translated to 225 cubic yards.

Despite, all the back-and-forth verification and reverification, I fully expected there to be a misunderstanding when the truck arrived. Well, that was not the case. I got a call from the driver and drove out to meet him. When I saw the truck, I was pretty certain that it was in fact 53 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, and 13.5 feet high.

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While I was glad there was no misunderstanding, we were quickly subdued by the dilemma of getting this massive truck onto the orchard lot. The truck required a huge turning radius and therefore could not turn onto either one of the alleys unless all cars were moved off the street. Even if that were possible, then there was the issue of the tree limbs overhead due to the truck’s height. Lastly, the driver had no confidence that he could get his truck back out even if he was able to get onto the lot.

I was reluctant to throw in the towel so we finally agreed on having the load dumped in front of the front yard of the street lot I own which is adjacent to the orchard lot. This would mean longer trips for the bobcat I am going to have to rent to spread the mulch but at least I would not have to send the delivery back.

Given that the front yard is on a slope, the only space left was a 50 feet by 15 feet space consisting of the sidewalk and the city right of way. After chopping down a Crape Myrtle in the city’s right of way, we finally managed to get the truck in position and ready for unloading.

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Rear view of the unloading:

Side view of the unloading:

Once the truck had unloaded half of the mulch, I asked the driver to move the truck forward so the pile would not spill in front of the neighbor’s house. To my surprise, he began moving the truck forward without getting back in the driver’s seat. Apparently, the truck comes equipped with external controls to scoot the truck forward. Very cool!

Here’s the mechanism which allows the load to be pushed out of the cargo compartment without raising the bed.

View of “Mulch Mountain” after unloading was completed.

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Categories: Mulch, Orchard Tags: ,

Another Source of Mulch!

May 23, 2012 Leave a comment

On my way to work today, I saw another tree crew working on the trees lining the freeway onramp. I asked for their mulch and they happily took down my number. Later in the day, the truck driver called me to let me know that he had a truckload of mulch ready for delivery. I met up with him and then led him to the orchard. After unloading the much, Laver asked me if I wanted more loads. I told him I would take all he could bring me. He told me his crew would be in the area for the next four month so there should be many more loads to come.

The other tree crew which I found at the end of April has been routinely bringing mulch to the orchard. So far, they have unloaded about six loads. Now that I have found a second tree crew to bring mulch, I am thinking about just letting the piles of mulch accumulate and then renting a bobcat again to make quick work of spreading the mulch.

I started of mulching the orchard after watch the Back to Eden documentary. When I started the mulching I was hauling mulch from other locations to the orchard by the trailer load. It was a time-consuming, back-breaking work and made the prospect of covering the entire orchard seem extremely intimidating. A truckload of mulch is equivalent to approximately 10 loads on my 5×8 trailer. Therefore, being able to have the truckloads of mulch delivered directly onsite to the orchard is an absolute luxury and will at the very least save me from burnout.

The large amount of mulch is very welcome at this point. After several weeks of dry weather, we have recently been getting small rain showers. Each shower is followed by an astounding growth spurt for the kudzu which was completed cleared from the lot just a couple of months prior. The portion of the orchard which was already been covered with mulch is doing a very good job of discouraging unwanted weed and kudzu growth. So at this point, I am fervently racing against the kudzu to see who can cover more ground. Unfortunately, I have to admit, I am quickly losing the battle. The mulch is my only hope of winning these battles back. Now that it looks like I will have a steady supply of mulch, I am looking to cover the orchard at least 8 inches of mulch. This thick layer should choke out all unwanted plant growth as well as do an excellent job of retaining soil moisture.

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Categories: Mulch, Orchard Tags: , ,