Evan Young 's Profile
Evan Young
Details
Joined:
02/02/2011
Last Updated:
19/04/2011
Location:
Yaapeet, Victoria , Australia
Climate Zone:
Semi Arid
Gender:
Male
Web site:
www.regenscape.com





My Projects

(projects i'm involved in)


Projects

(projects i'm following)

Fernglade Farm Jacmarall Farm Mudlark Permaculture Dehesa Felix Elisha's Spring - A PermaEthos Farm
Followers
Following
Adam Grubb Anji Bergkvist April Sampson-Kelly Berber van Beek Byron Joel Chris McLeod Christopher Darker Craig Gallagher Crissy Nordström Darren J.  Doherty david spicer David Williamson Geoff Lawton Hamish MacCallum Haydn Fletcher Jack Spirko John Champagne Kalinya  Farm Kirk Gadzia Kirsten Bradley Leah Galvin Leon van Wyk Lyn Beinat Mark Brown Nick Huggins Nick Ritar Owen Hablutzel Patrick Blampied Paul Taylor Penny Livingston-Stark Vanessa Monge Augusto Fernandes X X Zainil Zainuddin

Back to Evan Young's profile

Pine Mushrooms and the Vegatable Garden

Posted by Evan Young over 9 years ago

How we designed and installed our vegetable garden optimising existing resources and utilising other peoples waste. A low cost, DIY method to start your garden

Lactarius Deliciosus

Our first sighting of Pine Mushrooms (lactarius deliciosus) was made on Easter Sunday. We had a family lunch and were hiding eggs around the yard for a young cousin's easter egg hunt when we spotted one under an Oak (and nearby the Pines). Unfortunately someone had stood on this one so we didn't want to eat it. We hadjust purchased our first Pine Mushrooms at the Lancefield Farmer's Market the day before and they were delicious fried, stuffed and baked, so we were happy to see them growing at our place. A few days later another one nearly came under the boot - we stopped moving and a whole patch of them sprung into view all around. Weharvested a few and left the rest to sporulate and ensure future harvests.

This week also saw us complete our first vegetable bed. In line with Permaculture Principles we spent the first week or so in observation mode, looking for an appropriate site for our garden beds. Given our cool temperate climate and cold winters we wanted a site with good northerly aspect so as to maximise solar exposure. We also have a strong wind coming roughly from the south that we would like to screen out. It is important for us to keep the garden tight in Zone 1 near the house in case of severe frost or snow, so that we can take measures to protect our produce. As luck would have it the area just outside our kitchen ended up being a great site for solar exposure and the large cherry trees and stables to the south should provide some wind protection.  The site may prove to be too sunny in Summer so we are considering planting to create shade when the garden needs it most. This site will allow us to enjoy the view of the garden as we cook, do dishes, brew beer and preserve surplus produce. We'd found the site, now to decide how to build the actual beds.

Renting a property creates unique challenges to gardeners. There is the ideal way to do things and there is the renters way to do things. The challenge of renting is to implement designs that are productive and reduce workload, but are easily removed if requested when moving out. The infrastructure investments we would consider for a lifelong garden are not exactly what we would consider for a three year garden.

We debated two techniques. One was to build neat and tidy raised beds out of untreated, reclaimed railway sleepers and hope that the land lord would like the look of them - so that we could just leave them when we move out. This option has the benefits of beds that are easy to maintain thanks to their solid edges, resist erosion, look attractive enough to become a permanent feature of the property and are filled with immediately available and friable, purchased soil. The downside is the cost, for the area of beds we wanted the timber alone would cost $540, then we would have to purchase materials to fill the beds. That's a lot of veggies to grow before we would break even. In addition, the soil we had seen for sale at local nurseries hardly inspired visions of bountiful produce. It would be instantly penetrable to plant roots, but it was basically dead, with none of the coveted crumb structure and microbial life we would like to see in a garden soil. This would come in time, but only after a season or three of biological inputs and care. Some things money can't buy.

The second option was the classic sheet mulch of cardboard over the grass that many permaculturalists promote. This is a obviously a much cheaper option but means competing with the existing lawn until it is is dead, as well as pioneering through any deficiencies in soil nutrition or structure – until the compost and mulch sink in. A lot of areas in Australia have very little topsoil, and this can make this method of garden establishment slow going. We dug a test hole and found six inches of finely textured, medium brown soil over the subsoil – and not without signs of life. We deemed this to be sufficient, and more attractive than any soil we could purchase. With good gardening techniques and time we expect the topsoil layer to become deeper and improve in texture and biology.

Both options were attractive in their own way but we chose the second option because it meant developing what's here rather than relying on shopping up a garden, and it was cheaper. Additionally we have found dry Victorian Summers to be hard on raised beds and expect less summer water demands by growing our garden flat with the surrounding ground. Although the death of the pasture and the soil texture for perfect pointy carrots might take a while to come good, we are very interested in the qualities of the present soil, and have been composting and propagating almost daily since we moved in. Soon we will have a lot of life to give to the ground.

So with our method decided we got to work. As borders between the beds and the paths we picked up a pile of free bricks from someone's smashed chimney. We are implementing the beds one at a time as the garden we plan is large, and we will plant it out to green manure or propagules and seedlings as they become ready.

First thing was to stake out the area with string and star pickets. Then we used the Gundaroo Tiller to break compaction, aerate, encourage water penetration and to encourage deeper topsoil formation. This actually took quite a while and is the main reason why we are doing the beds one a time. Also peeling bits of sticky tape off the cardboard for the bed areas is pretty slow and we can believe that some people might skip this step and live in harmony with sticky tape in the garden.

Evan preparing the soil with the Gundaroo Tiller

The next step was to water and spread a layer of  rotted horse manure over the tilled area to assist the breakdown of the grass and to feed the soil critters that will nurture our veggies – fresh manure would have been better for turning the pasture into worm food but we haven't been able to source any yet. After that, another light watering, cover the whole area with a thick layer of cardboard and wet down that as well.

 

Layer of manure and Anji removing sticky tape from cardboard

Next we placed bricks to define the edge of the garden beds and keep the wood chips in the paths. We like using chipped municipal green waste as the path material, after seeing it encourage a lot of healthy fungal diversity in our previous gardens and ultimately creating a lot of soil, while making weed and grass in the paths a non-issue. Given our climate has a relatively low humidity we expect the wood chips to last between one and two years. We lay it on as thick as you like – about as deep as a brick in this case but up to a foot in others. In our last neighborhood, chipped green waste was free – but there must be a lot of gardeners with big gardens in our new neighborhood, because it comes with a small fee here.

Next we added a sprinkle of soil from some the few square meters of old (but fertile) raised beds which we decommission when we arrived (which can be seen covered in cardboard in some pictures). Then a mix of green manure seeds suitable for our climate (Ryecorn, Tic beans, Dun Peas and Oats). This must be about the hardest job we have ever given to a cover crop – and we're not sure how well it will take the task of getting rooted under two to five millimeters of soil and a light mulch on top of cardboard – but the cost of the seeds will be worth finding out if it is up to the task or not. What's cover crop for if not for the hard yards? How hard can the yards be? Partly our motivation for sprinkling soil and cover crop on top of the cardboard was to have plants and biology consume the cardboard. We hope it (and the pasture) won't last long with manure underneath and living soil and living mulch on top – we also don't want the cardboard drying out, as that would make it less penetrable to rain and slow its decomposition. We threw the seed at about twice the recommended rate: a balance between the cost of seed and the difficult situation we were putting it in. We would have thrown it at four times the recommended rate if we'd have had more seed. If it does take, we will cut the green manure around our coming plantings - but will generally keep it until our beds fill out or the cover crops begin to flower.

 

Green manure and light soil cover watered in

The seeds and soil were then given a light mulch of old pea straw that we found in the shed. The last ingredient was the wood chip mulch which was spread all around the perimeter. and there you have it. One ready to plant and attractive vegetable bed. When we plant into this bed we will tear holes in the cardboard and plant into pockets of compost.

 

One down, four to go

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (1)

You must be logged in to comment.

Alexandra Berendt
Alexandra Berendt : Unfortunately I cannot see any of the photos or the blog? Would love an update on these beds, and maybe some before and after pictures?
Posted about 8 years ago

Report Alexandra Berendt on Pine Mushrooms and the Vegatable Garden

Reason:

or cancel

My Badges
Consultant Aid worker
My Permaculture Qualifications
Other course verified
PRI 10 Week Internship Program
Type: Internship
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Zaytuna Farm, NSW, Australia
Date: Apr 2010
Other course verified
PDC Teacher Training
Type: Teacher Training
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Zaytuna Farm, NSW, Australia
Date: May 2010
Other course verified
Permaculture Earthworks
Type: Earthworks
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Zaytuna Farm, NSW, Australia
Date: May 2010
Other course verified
Permaculture Project Aid Worker
Type: Aid Worker
Teacher: Geoff Lawton
Location: Zaytuna Farm, NSW, Australia
Date: Jun 2010
Other course verified
Keyline Farming
Type: Earthworks
Teacher: Darren J. Doherty
Location: Tylden, VIC, Australia
Date: Apr 2010
Other course verified
GIS/Watershed Analysis for Permaculture
Type: Other
Teacher: Darren J. Doherty
Location: Bendigo, VIC, Australia
Date: Aug 2010
Other course verified
Holistic Management
Type: Other
Teacher: Kirk Gadzia
Location: Tylden, VIC, Australia
Date: Aug 2010

Report Evan Young

Reason:

or cancel

Hide Evan Young

Reason:

or cancel

Hide Pine Mushrooms and the Vegatable Garden

Reason:

or cancel

Report Pine Mushrooms and the Vegatable Garden

Reason:

or cancel