Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Permaculture Strawberry Rescue!

Well, sort of.  You remember when I said I was so excited about planting all my little strawberry plants a while back?  I must have been crazy.  I just went and tilled up (ok, husband tilled up...) two long rows in the field north of our house and stuck them in the ground.  Now, since we haven't even been living there yet to tend to them, the beds look like this:

Do you seen any strawberries in there?  No?  They're there...somewhere.  Seriously, you think I would learn. Every spring I get planting fever, start tossing things in the ground and reap serious consequences later!  

I've been picking up lots of interesting tidbits from a book I'm reading right now called Earth User's Guide to Permaculture by Rosemary Morrow.  I was particularly interested in the concept of sheet mulching to start a new bed.  Oh, how I wish I had read this two months ago!  The basic concept is like this: 1.  Mow grass.  2.  Cover with cardboard.  3.  Layer mulch, composted manure, etc.  Since it was too late for me to do the whole process with my strawberry beds, I did my best with what I had to improve the situation!  First, I pulled out the weeds between the strawberry plants.  Then I cut cardboard squares basically to fit the shape between plants (and we have LOTS of cardboard to work with from the boxes all our new kitchen cabinets came in!)  Then I covered the spaces between the strawberry plants with a mixture of hay, pine needles, leaves and grass clippings that I had sitting next to the patch.  It wasn't completely composted yet, but it'll have to do for now.  Then I soaked the whole thing down with water.  Later when I get my hands on some manure (not literally...) I'll top it off with that too. So now, the portion of the bed I worked on looks like this:
not perfect, but a huge improvement!  This is only about 1/4 of the whole thing.  I'll keep plugging away at the rest!
 I don't agree with the entire philosophy behind permaculture.  The whole thing takes a pretty alarmist view of the depletion of the earth's resources, especially water and fuel.  To be honest I think we've been fed a pretty big line from left-wing environmentalist groups (perhaps more on that another time...) and I certainly don't agree with the "redistribution" of "resources" recommended in this particular book.  This ultimately leads to the end of our rights to personal property.  But...there are some really great ideas in this book!  I love the concept of only using what you have on your property for your projects, and aiming at producing no waste.  I love the feeling of freedom from having to run to Home Depot or a garden store every time I want to start a garden project.  Chances are, I have everything I need already!  It just might take some creativity.  And maybe a little extra elbow grease:)  

And since we're all about making our homes and lives beautiful...why not look cute while digging in the dirt?  This cargo skirt is the best thing ever.  In my pockets I had my phone, keys, box cutter, and sunglasses with room to spare.  And who says you can't wear an awesome necklace in the garden?  I bought this in December to wear to my husband's company Christmas party and decided to pull it out again today.  Happy digging, everyone.
Photo courtesy of boy #2.  Not too bad, huh?

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