Friday, October 16, 2009

Permaculture and feeding my soul

I have been toying with the idea of planting a green manure crop during the wet season. In the end I ordered pigeon peas, recommended for the tropics. You get an inoculant with it that helps to fix nitrogen in the soil when you cut it back. This is also recommended for building up the soil to resist wilt diseases. I want to taste the actual peas though and might keep some growing to use as mulch. One site said that this is the pea most commonly used for making dahl, so maybe I wont have to buy lentils anymore and can just use what I grow in the garden :) It looks like quite a strong large plant and one blogger uses it to grow her tomatoes next to and then uses them to stake the tomatoes. Here is the bed cleared and ready to be planted.

I have never done green manure before, so this is all a learning experience. Most sites say to cut down the plant and then it releases nitrogen into the soil, but on the tropical permaculture site I read that every time you prune back the plants they release nitrogen, so maybe an ongoing source of nitrogen is better than one big hit. You can eat the peas fresh, dried or even sprout them, so it seems that whichever way I go this is going to be one very useful plant.

The other seeds I ordered were amaranth - the amaranth plant looks lovely with red leaves and long arching spikes of grain. You can eat the leaves and the grain! I love these multi-use plants :) The grain has a very high proportion of protein compared to other grains. I have been wanting to try before I buy, but have not found anyone growing this plant. At the very least it is still a pretty plant!

My snake beans have been doing OK, but I haven't really convinced anyone else how wonderful they are. I do peel them and chop them into salads and soups, and they get gobbled up, but I wouldn't say anyone says ---- ohhh snake beans again - good! So I ordered some seeds for another kind of snake bean - they grow very quickly, they like the wet season, and are about as long as the other beans, but very thin and the taste is more like a regular green bean.

I was trying to define my way of gardening - permaculture/ organic/ food for the soul (flowers :)/ self sufficiency/
1. Permanent perennial plants used as much as possible, or if not then at least seeds saved and used for following crops or sharing.
2. Growing the things I need the most closest to the house (well I have no problem with that - as I probably only have one permaculture zone, being such a small place)
3. Being as self-sufficient as possible - eg. growing my own mulch. Note to self - you have to get some bamboo! for stakes and mulch. The comfrey is both mulch and fertilizer. I am getting ready to propogate some more plants.
4. There is no room for a rain water tank, but I am researching some kind of filtering system to use grey water during the dry season.
5. Preferably not have to invest too much money into bringing in amendments from outside. I have used free seaweed, free coffee grounds. Make lots of my own compost and leaf mould.

I think the thing I most love about my garden is that the more natural things I do, the more problems correct themselves! I had a bit of a grasshopper problem. but then noticed a wagtail had moved in and he was busy all day gobbling them up. Grasshopper problem solved! While I was gathering information to work on the problem, nature was fixing it! How cool! More time to spend on the swing admiring the flowers, and feeding my soul.

1 comment:

  1. Have you got around to the grey water? Our system is fairly simple, a pump to lift the water to a raised tank, so we can fill the watering cans. And if you can't do a rainwater tank, what about a swale - a hollow to encourage your rain to soak in, instead of running off?


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