change is hard

There’s been a lot of talk about permaculture in the last few years and even longer.  The concept sounds solid and good.  At the same time it also seems (to me anyway) trendy, fashionable, like the cultural concept of the week.  I know the idea’s been around for ages, but I associate it with eco-enthusiasts and sometimes outright zealots.  That’s not me.

But then it’s hard to change when you’re deeply routine in your thinking and ways, like me.

I might be more likely to embrace the term and the concept of permanent mulch.  Not so socially-encompassing.  It, too has been around for ages.  Ruth Stout was its champion, and it’s very simple; you put what you have directly on the garden and leave it to decay in place.  It creates an undisturbed system that mimics how nature generates life and death, and I’m absolutely certain it would be better for the garden.  Not to mention easier.

But it’s hard for me to make this jump.

I love to mess with the soil.  I like to see it black and tilled.  I enjoy collecting stuff to compost and creating the witch’s brew piles that heat up in the middle to blistering temperatures.  I like to see the dirt.

Right now I’m considering the change.  A permanent mulch that continually decomposes right on the garden.  No compost bins.  No tilling.  Hmm.  At the very least, it gives me something to obsess about next to the wood stove while the snow flies.

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13 thoughts on “change is hard

  1. Change is difficult when it comes to growing food. Maybe we have a deep memory of famines past? Yet a small experimental section of the garden for permaculture or a Fukuoka grain plot would be an idea worth trying.

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  2. I like my compost heap, too! Not sure I want to give up on it, especially as I’m not sure I want vegetable peelings all over the garden. At the same time, I have three small hugel beds because there was no space in the compost bin when I needed it. So, it is an interesting experiment😊.

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  3. If you have any compaction problems in any aprticular bed – try there for mulching! Tilling the soil is a great way for a quick infusion of nutrients, but in the long run it kills off mycorrizhal fungi (a gardener’s best friend! – the create a larger root network for drawing up water and phosphorus) and nitrogen fixing bacteria, and can add to compaction in the long run by adding too much oxygen to the soil (seems totally counter intuitive, I know!). By mulching you are giving the bacteria and microbes lots of yummy food, increasing the water holding capacity of your soil by shading it, and organic material such as leaf mould, straw, wood chips have even higher water holding capacity than clay. I love love love mulching.

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    • I love mulching too Hannah! Couldn’t garden without it. I mulch everything deeply.

      My hesitation to establish permanent beds stem from two issues: seeding into a permanent much seems clumsy and possibly not as effective as seeding into tilled soil, and some of the crops I grow, like corn, I’d rather have in large beds. So from year to year as I rotate the crops, I like to have the option to change bed sizes and shapes.

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      • I find that with permanent mulch, it’s much better to do seedlings rather than direct seeding. For tomatoes and other little seedlings it has worked well for me! As for corn, I’ve never grown it so I have no idea! I’m the same way – my beds change year to year based on rotation. I think my rose garden and perennial beds will be the only ones with a permanent mulch! 🙂

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