This is the second part of a two part duology on permaculture. If you haven’t read “The Do-Nothing Garden – is it just a myth?” then this post probably won’t make much sense. But then again, if you are wondering about the title, that might be a good thing.
In the blog on getting started with a “Do Nothing Garden” we discussed “setting the table” so to speak in the garden or, in other words, getting things ready for the fun part of gardening – planting. I know the quote applies to something else, but one of my favorite passages of literature is “hope springs eternal in the heart of man” and I apply the quote to planting a garden. If you really think about it, planting a garden is one of the ultimate indications that you plan on being around for at least a few more months AND you plan on being both ACTIVE as well as HUNGRY! I mean, who would plant a garden if they didn’t think they were going to be around to harvest it? You get the idea.
Okay, to the nuts and bolts of planting in lasagna. Huh? Is that a sentence you have EVER seen typed in the English language? I mean, I wrote it and I’ve never seen it before.
As we address the garden prior to planting, please be respectful. You do NOT want to piss off the garden. She (and yes, it HAS to be a she, ‘cause the garden is the source of SO much beauty and goodness while also being the POTENTIAL source of SO much heartache) will tolerate NO disrespect. I mean there are RULES that MUST be followed. That is one of the reasons you are here; to learn the rules. But you have to be careful who you learn the rules from, ‘cause not all rule teachers are equal. Some are more “equal” than others. There! Did I successfully navigate that little minefield? Okay, all is good.
If you will recall, we laid down layers of various materials over the soil of our planting beds, almost as if we were making lasagna. As I mentioned, it would have been better to have done this in the fall, and it would be a good thing to do NEXT fall. But since we didn’t, let’s work with what we have. The order in which to proceed is as follows:
1. Determine what you are going to plant and where – if you are planting live plants (dead ones are NOT a good choice at this time) then I recommend you have a container of planting mix (see blog on getting started in container gardening for recipes) to fill in around the plant.
2. For the next step, procure a sharp trowel. Okay, who am I kidding; you don’t have a sharp trowel do you? I have only seen one SHARP trowel, and that one belongs to me. You probably don’t take the time to sharpen your little shovels. Do you? You really need to get out more. Okay, take a “sharp instrument” of some kind—a knife, the aforementioned sharp trowel, or whatever you need in order to cut the soggy cardboard layer to allow you access to the soil below.
3. If you are planting live plants, make a small recess in the soil below the cardboard larger than the root ball of the setting. Place the plant in the hole and fill in around the plant with the potting mix.
4. If you are planting seeds, then repeat the above procedure, but instead of putting in a plant, simply fill in the recess with potting mix and then plant your seed(s).
5. Depending on what type of mulch you are using, you can move some of it back either around your live plant or lightly sprinkled over the seed you just planted.
6. Lightly water your plants or seeds and PRAY that “she” will be good to you. If you have already forgotten who “she” is then please refer back to fourth paragraph of this blog. You know you really should take something for this memory issue you have.
In order to really get into permaculture, you can plant PERMANENT plants in the raised beds and then plant your veggies/flowers in between. This is the best of both worlds. The permanent features of the garden will prosper due to all the nutrients you put into the soil prior to planting and the veggies/flowers will benefit from the permanent biology around the permanent plants as well as the protection from the scalding summer sun that we are expecting any day now.
BTW, if you haven’t figured out yet what I’m talking about, “permanent plants” would be things like small (or large) fruit trees such as peach trees. In certain climates and soil conditions, blueberries make good permanent members of your garden. I know it would seem a little “weird”, but you could plant roses or some other ornamental in the garden. You get the idea. There are NO rules! Oh, did I say that out loud? And after all the fuss I made about the rules above.
The next installment (or it could be the one after that), will take up the discussion of companion planting. No, this does NOT mean finding places to bury the bodies of childhood companions you have grown tired of. “Companion planting” is the age old practice of planting two or more varieties together so that they compliment (no mean or nasty plants are accepted) each other’s biology. Think of it as a marriage, where each plant has strengths and weaknesses, but together they are both stronger than they would be alone. A prime example of companion planting is planting onions around squash plants. The phytochemicals in the onion plant protects the squash from such little beasties as cut worms, while at the same time the onion benefits from special chemicals given off by the squash. Also, since they are both right together, when you get ready for steamed squash and onions; you don’t have to look for the onions.
As usual, if you have any comments or suggestions for future blogs, please leave them in the comment section just below this entry. That’s all for today from Michael, just a “man out standing in his field,” which today happens to be 5” deep with SNOW. How the hell am I supposed to garden in the SNOW? I live in the SOUTH, not north of the Mason-Dixon! If I wanted SNOW I would live in Maine! Oh, well. I’m sure that “global warming”, known locally as SPRING, will take care of things soon.