Design 2:1

The herb garden

Location:
Finca Florecer,
Zone: 2
Design process: SADIM 
Date started: November 2011
Date finished: March 2012
Survey

At the end of 2006, while I was pregnant with my second child, I started to created this garden. It was very over grown with gorse and other weedy plants. Apart from two small carob trees that I could see poking its head above the undergrowth, there did not seem to be much growing there. When I was clearing and preparing for the planting beds I discovered a small Fig tree. JOY!!!

I had chosen this location for my first garden for a number of reasons. Firstly: it was one of the only terraces that had sufficient soil depth for growing vegetables. Secondly: it had no olive trees that I would have had to negotiate around. And thirdly: it was close to my caravan (where I was living at the time) and convenient for access to water, which was stored in two 1000 LTR IBC's.Water is collected from a friends house about 1.5 km away in an 1,000 litre ICB, in my transit van, from there it is emptied into the 4000 litre concrete tank that I build in place of the two IBC;s, (which has fish and bull rushes in to keep the water clean, nutrient rich and free from mosquitoes) on the terrace above. This water is then gravity fed to the pond (also containing fish and water plants) in the vegetable garden. From this pond, I water the garden with two 11 LTR watering cans. in the height of summer it takes 450 LTR and about 2 hrs. With the two water

sources I can keep the system topped up for approximately 3 to 4 day before I have to collect water again, although I usually collect a tank every morning after dropping the kids off at school.

I have primarily been growing summer vegetables, flowers and herbs. I have also introduced a a Plum and Apricot tree. There is also the original fig and two carob trees, (one male, one female).

Analysis

After my Permaculture design course I realised that although my garden was working well it was not functioning at its most potential.

Wants and needs:

  • To have a more manageable system: small scale intensive system

  • Phase out the vegetable and focus more on perennial plants such as medicinal and culinary herbs and teas: accelerated succession and evolution

  • Install water irrigation

  • Add more fruit tree: diversity

Strengths

  • Garden already established: apply self-regulation and accept feedback

  • Has a basic structure: design from pattern to detail

  • Established fruit trees: small and slow solutions

  • Pond to attract diversity: use edge and value the marginal

  • Due to the growing vegetables, the beds have good nutrient base and drainage: catch and store energy

Weaknesses

  • Paths are too wide, taking up useful growing space: edge effect

  • Beds are too wide, making access to centre difficult and does not make harvest the crops easy: efficient energy planning

  • This area is primarily used for annual vegetables, due to moving out of the caravan and into the house, it is now too far away to collect the harvests in summer when it is very hot: relative location, apply self-regulation and accept feed back, design from pattern to detail

  • Watering is done by hand: catch and store energy

Opportunities

  • To turn the garden from annual growing crops to perennial plants: accelerate succession and evolution

  • Less maintenance, which will give me more time to enjoy the garden: least change for the greatest effect

  • Attract more beneficial insects: use and value diversity

Challenges

  • The pathways will be compacted

  • I will have to find a different location for growing vegetables

  • Not enough pressure from the tank on the terrace above to use irrigation pipes

The Process

By dividing up the beds into more manageable parts, I will be creating more edge to the design. This will create marginal spaces for different types of plant and also permits access to and around the beds more comfortably, for collecting harvests and access to all areas with a wheelbarrow, enabling me to catch and store energy.

I will produce no waste by composting all cuttings and prunings on site. The harvest of teas and herbs can be dried for use in the home and given away to friend.

By planting plants that companion each other, either by shade, pest control or pollination we can design by pattern to detail.

Creating the beds using a no-dig method will help soil conditioning on an already degraded and compacted site

Ethics
Original Design

I made a map of the original design and marked the plants that are already established on it, this gave me a good idea of where changes can be made.

The herb garden, Plant list.

Planting bed Ⅰ

Peaches x3 (self seeded)

Aloe Vera

Lavender

Sage

canna lilly

lemon grass

Pelargonium common

Mint

Planting bed Ⅱ

Bay

Chilli

 

Planting bed Ⅲ

Wild plants,

 

Planting bed Ⅳ

Apricot

Clover, purple

Planting Bed Ⅵ

Fig tree

Garlic

Oregano

Lime tree

 

Planting bed Ⅶ

Carob tree, male

Carob tree, Female

Lemon geranium

Chilli

Base map
Elevation

Design

Plant list
Original plants

Planting bed Ⅰ

Peaches x3 (self seeded)  Aloe Vera                Lavender                Sage

Canna Lilly

lemon grass

Pelargonium common

Mint

Planting bed Ⅱ

Bay

Chilli

Planting bed Ⅲ               Wild plants,

Planting bed Ⅳ

Apricot 

Clover, purple

New plants

 

Citrus Tree x3 type unknown

Iris

Gladioli

beetroot

Spearmint

Lavender

Tarragon

Carrots, beetroot

Beans, runner

Clover, purple

Original Plants

Planting bed Ⅴ

Parsley 

Planting Bed Ⅵ

Fig tree 

Garlic

Oregano

Lime tree 

Planting bed Ⅶ

Carob tree, male 

Carob tree, Female 

Lemon geranium 

Chilli 

Planting bed Ⅷ

Pear tree

Lemon verbena

New Plants

 

osteospernum

 

Hypericum

Medlar

Echinacea

Comfrey

Artichoke

 

Melissa (lemon balm)

Tomatoes, lupins

lettuce 

Onions

 

Stevia

Cabbage

Onions

New planting Beds

Planting bed Ⅸ

Pistachio

Lettuce

Spinach

parsley

Peas

Sunflowers

Physalis

alfalfa

Mustard

strawberries

Planting bed Ⅺ

Spinach

Onions

Lettuce

Planting bed Ⅹ

Oak tree

Onions

Lettuce

Clover, purple

Sorrel

Pineapple mint

Alfalfa

Mustard

Implementation

Stage One​; November 2011 

  • Divide up the original beds 

  • Put plants that can be kept into pots for later transplantation

  • Mark  out where the new beds will go with rocks

  • Allow enough access between beds for the wheelbarrow

  • Water new beds thoroughly

  • Lay cardboard to stop weeds coming through the new beds and saturate with compost tea 

  • Clear out compost bins into new beds and water thoroughly

  • Add trees to new beds

The process of implementation went very well and the desired effect was achieved in just a few days. I was able to plant a few additional fruit trees.

The soil in the original beds was amazingly soft and rich compared to the rest of the ground in this area.

Stage Two:​ February 2012

  • Remove compost bins and extent bed 1 into that area

  • Create new compost area at the end of the garden

  • Extend garden with new bed

  • Make better access to chicken coop

  • Add trees

  • Plant more trees

  • Use vegetable plugs to utilize space

  • Mulch

Maintenance
Evaluation 

What went well?

The garden is so much better utilised everything is growing well with such abundance, it's incredible.

I am doing the same amount of watering but with a much larger yield.

With the paths being thinner there are less problems with weed but there are many different nooks and crannies where plants are starting to self-seed.

It is easy to throw the unwanted fruit and soft leaf waste straight over the terrace down to the chickens, pig and ducks.

It is also easier to transport chickens/pig/duck waste up to compost area.

I have been using an open heap system for the Compost which is a lot easier to turn and in this environment stops it drying out as quickly as when it was contained up in pallets

I hope as the trees and herbs grow and get established I will be able to move away from growing annual vegetables and less water will be needed to sustain the garden and it will all support it's self.

Tweaking

Over time the garden developed even more, At the end of 2012 the mains water was connected and eventually a drip irrigation system, which gave me back so much of my summer, It also allowed me a little bit of freedom from the land that I did not realized I was missing... I could leave go away in the summer, if only for a few days at a time.

The soil has improved considerably due to mulch and compost. The compost is made up solely from the waste produced in the garden and has been activating a lot quicker due to a lot more green waste that can be added.

The watering has been reduced to just 20 mins of irrigation or about 70 LTR a day during the summer period, due to plant coverage and the establishment of herbaceous plants and herbs.

Now that the herbs and trees are established my total in-put is approximately 4 days work, twice a year.

I have added an apple and pear to the tree population and a few herbs, when I find some thing special.

Usually I spend my time discovering plants that are lost under the over-growth but that just make the maintenance fun. I can truly say that the herb garden and I have creatively used and responded to change.

Review 2018

I have had a few ups and downs, Last summer 2018 my water timer stopped working without me noticing, I lost a few of the less hardy herbs such as the Melissa, and the physalis did not self seed. But surprisingly most of the garden survived the extremely long hot summer without irrigation.

One of the other problems was the Pond which got so choked with cane grass, which established itself when I introduction of a few water plants from the river where it is invasive!

When trying to pull it out we ended up ripping the liner which was deteriorating anyway.

With the help of Vicky, a very determined volunteer we spent a week removing the offending plant.

This spring I will look forward to a new and improved, cane free pond...... and it goes on....

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