Over the last several months we have been making a number of changes in how we use water in our home. We just received our bi-monthly water bill and for the last period compared to last year at the same time, we reduced our water usage by 47%! I was amazed. So what did we do?
I've spent the last four days watching the many birds who fly through our suburban backyard. Two years ago two of the neighbors behind us cut down their large trees and another neighbor followed suit this past summer. I was afraid that was the end of the birds in our yard.
How long has humankind spent trying to control and manipulate nature? I like to think I am learning to live more in tune with nature but I'm discovering how far I have to go.
I sit this morning watching a hummingbird in the bed just off the patio. Last year at this time, I was working madly to create a food forest. I started by spacing out fruit and nut trees in our suburban backyard and then creating lasagna layered beds around the trees to put in berries, herbs and flowers to attract beneficial and native species.
I've worked hard over the past couple of weeks to pull weeds, tie up sprawling plants and create some sense of order in the garden. There seems to be this fine line I'm walking. On the one hand, the goal is to create a food forest that is also welcoming to wildlife. On the other hand, I have a lot of years of garden perfection to overcome. I've seldom gotten the yard perfect but it's always been the goal. Now, my goals have changed and I'm challenged to let go of the perfection.
- When you are attempting to build a new garden bed area, decide where the paths will be and where the planting areas will be. Only walk on the paths and avoid walking on the planting areas. This protects the soil structure, allowing the worms and other microbes to build tunnels and connections easily destroyed by walking on them.
Think about feeding the soil. Some techniques such as lasagna gardening and sheet composting work on the idea of feeding the soil microbes. Rather than building a compost pile on the side of the garden, the items are composted in place.
Last year we built an outdoor bin for composting by worms and black soldier flies. Both can be fed to fish and chickens and, in our case, would be fed to the tilapia in our aquaponics system as well as our chickens.
I spent this past weekend visiting my Mother and daughter. The last morning the three of us enjoyed a walk through my Mother's garden. She has almost a half an acre of yard, part in a small orchard and the rest in lush gardens.
Last spring, my Mother decided she could no longer maintain her small garden pond. With the help of friends and some family members, they emptied the pond and pulled out the liner and other associated parts. They then filled the hole with a combination of compost and soil scraped off the orchard area in an effort to level it some.
What is soil? Most people call it dirt. It brings to mind pictures of children's dirty faces or dirty floors or worse yet, germs and bugs and other nasties. And, in some ways those pictures are correct. But soil is so much more.
Soil is comprised of minerals, organic matter, microorganisms, space and water
The minerals are what we normally think of when we consider "dirt". It is really broken down rock. The type of rock determines the type of minerals available in the soil. The texture can be very fine clay, slightly larger silt, gritty sand or even rocks of various sizes.
I've been cleaning up the garden for spring. I decided last fall to leave the last of the spent perennials to overwinter for the insects and birds. As a result, we've had lots of birds all winter. Now it's time toclean it up. My goal this year is to start sheet composting in all of my garden beds. With sheet composting, the debris is placed back on the garden where it falls with the possible addition of other organic matter throughout the year.