Posts Tagged ‘greenhouses’

I am in the planning stage of the garden.  According to the ideas of Permaculture, it is of primary importance to Observe a site before implementing big changes, especially permanent changes.  Permaculture is all about “careful and protracted thought rather than careless and protracted labour” (Quinney, 9).  Permaculture has a bunch of principles which are related to ethics in that they are “culturally evolved mechanisms for a more enlightened self-interest” (Holgrem, 1).  The first principle is Observe and Interact.  It is important to observe a site, carefully and without judgement, for a whole year, at least a year, before making big changes.  I have not even been in province for a month! But actually, I see that as an advantage in sharing the process of learning how to garden successfully here, as many of us barely know the place we live at all.   To suppliment a year of observation, permaculture suggests to talk to lots of neighbours to hear, carefully and without judgement, a diversity of ideas and opinions.  So, the first folks I managed to invite to the garden were, Brad, the cute market mushroom man, and Alex Denicola, beloved organic-permaculture-activist market gardener who sets up beside Brad at the market.  They came by the garden on Saturday.

We are all coming from a similar perspective; we are all familiar with the ideas of permaculture, and passionately believe that we, meaning the collective we, are going to need to get serious about producing our food for ourselves, soon.   To do this we need to think carefully, act wisely, use what we have, and employ a diversity of tactics.  We need to maximize our use of space, which also means reconsidering our relationships to (non-productive) shade trees and (non-productive) lawns, pathways, and all other spaces.  We need to shift what and how we see.  If we imagine Superstore not being accessible, then this re-visioning takes on a sharp poignancy, perhaps something like a hunger pang.

First off, what is the vision for the space?  Who is getting educated and on what?  Is it a variety of ways to grow food, or is it to grow as much food as we can?

The vision that I have for SeeMore Green is that of a space that functions as a demonstration site, and training-learning ground, and a resource hub.  By demonstration site I mean a place to see successful urban food production;  by training-learning ground I mean a space for a diversity of people to learn a diversity of strategies and tactics; and by resource hub, (or urban ag. hub) I mean a place to get seeds, plant cuttings, ideas, compost innoculant, pots, etc, so that other garden projects are supported.

A couple really strong points that came out of our conversations were 1) we need to do some careful consideration about our use of space in Seymour green.  If we are going to be an inspirational demonstration of urban food production, we need show some good use of space.  I cannot help but agree.  My thinking on this had been to do a lot of creative container planting, vertical gardening – using vines and trellises as well as trying some of the suspended pipe beds that Solviva uses.  Alex challenged the garden’s primary layout and suggested we shift the wooden frames there now.  I have to admit, I don’t really like wood in the garden:  it can harbor insects, rob nitrogen and moisture, but mostly because it is an inefficient use of space.  And they encourage conventional thinking that plants belong in boxes.  But they look tidy, and we are on a university campus, and like to be liked by administration.  We also need to keep in mind wheelchair accessibility.

So, for sure, the grass in the pathways needs to get replaced with some more useful. And the whole area we are using to produce food needs to be critically looked at.
The second great point that Alex made very clear was that if you want to grow food in the Maritimes you need to use transplants.

Start seeds in flats in some sort of greenhouse, cloche, or other season-extender, and then transplant them out.  One can get a lot more food out of a small space, and waste a lot less time and energy that way.   (For more good info on this strategy, check into John Jeavon’s ideas on square foot gardening).

So next weekend we are going to build a cloche.  (A cloche is non-permanent greenhouse by my definition:  definitions vary, but that is how I use it.  PVC hose and plastic= cloche.  Glass and woodframe=greenhouse).  Alex has some re-useable plastics around and I have a screwdriver.  With a little cloche we can help the tomatoes and peppers grow enough to bear some fruit, start some veggies for fall crops and second successions, and hopefully demonstrate a successful strategy for growing food locally.

Brad had some great ideas about doing terracing with innoculated hardwood logs  to demonstrate how to increase surface area for small yards (because the folks with huge yards are most often wealthy enough for a while;  the majority have tiny yard and less cash).  By using hardwood logs innoculated with shitake or oyster mushrooms built up in the corner by the porch and stairs, we could possibly successfully harvest mushrooms from the cool, shady, moist area under the back deck, which is making productive use of a classicly unused space.  Pretty great ideas if you ask me: let’s hold this idea in mind and do some more observation and discussion before making such a big thing.

Jen Scott from the Food Action Committee and Heliotrust farm just gave us an elder tree and an mountain ash.  So there are two gorgeous trees to plant, and planting trees is a big beautiful decision.

And we have a load of compost coming early in the week, and a bunch of transplants and perennials coming next Saturday.  On Tuesday I go out to Acadia University to check out their native plant gardens with another super-sweet knowledgeable one, Ahktar.

Friends, we have some fun work to do.

–    get the bulletin boards up.
–   move raspberries and rhubarb away from where the compost is coming in
–    think about garden space: reframe a bed?
–     connect existing rain barrels, add spigot;  get more rain barrels for other downspout
– start sheet compost corner near house
– start getting rid of grass in walk areas and replace with lovely useables
– start sheet composting under the maple to prep for woodland garden
– flyer neighbourhood to bring us containers – and pathway plants: camomile, mints, lemonbalm, wooly thyme, hollyhocks, plantain!, calendula, even dandelions are better than grass!… I would like to learn more plants that could used – are there some appropriate natives? Hmmm…

SeeMore Green collective garden and urban ag hub. A thriving space with beautiful little gardens that inspire and provoke action, frequented by a diversity of cool folks to learn from, and a place to possibly get some plants, starts, seeds, cuttings, inoculants, and other shit you might need.  Always good for a nibble and a giggle.

If you share this vision, come add in to it.  It needs you to happen.  Yes, you.

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