Biointensive gardening

“Whatever you are be a good one.”
-Abraham Lincoln-

Yesterday I went cyber-visiting and Jen’s blog got me thinking about gardening.  I have a gardening idea that I can hardly wait to put into practice this spring.  I bought the book “The Sustainable Vegetable Garden” by John Jeavons and Carol Cox.   It is full of good ideas about getting the most out of a small area in the good old-fashioned sustainable way.

I dug my little garden plot 2 years ago…most of the original earth was rock-filled clay.  I did manage to remove the rocks and we had some topsoil trucked in.  As it turned out the topsoil that we got is very sandy and there was clearly not enough of it to grow root vegetables.  The beets struggled bravely and ended up pushing themselves upward.  I also found the sandiness to be a very heavy growing medium which I’m sure suits some things but not all.  I am not one to use chemical fertilizers so we settled for some horse manure from the ranch down the road.

This spring we will build raised beds that are 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep.  We’ll level the garden which is on a bit of a slant now and place the bed forms on top in some sensible order as yet to be determined.  Then we plan on filling the beds with a better quality topsoil that is rich with natural nutrients to which we will add mushroom manure.   I have a bit of a compost pile started already which I intend to continue to turn and come fall use to feed the soil too.  Also there is a section of our forest patch that has deciduous trees for leaves to add to the garden soil in the fall.

This wonderful book has its emphasis on natural means to enrich the soil.  In the first year of this “new and improved” garden the soil will be totally turned and loose for all 2 feet of depth.  The following years, I will only turn the top 1 foot of soil, leaving the bottom 1 foot which rests on top of the original soil surface unturned.  The theory is that the base 1 foot forms a spongy cushion rife with natural bacteria and microorganisms that will retain a life-sustaining nutrition for our garden vegetables.  Apparently leaving this living sponge undisturbed is the key to a healthy productive sustainable biointensive garden plot.  It is still important to add compost and leaf mulch to the soil but the trick is not to disturb the natural balance beneath.

I love the idea of this. Once the initial grunt work is done it should prove to be an enjoyable way to garden.  The beds will be 1 foot apart so that I can sit on a moveable 14 inch plank as I plant, weed and harvest.  Seeding will be done in a hexagonal manner to maximize the area usage rather than in rows.  With the width of each bed at 3 feet I should be able to easily reach the center plants.  If it weren’t for the 2 feet of snow on the ground I’d be at it already.

Today’s “stone”  Day  58   dark earth, life source, living soil, good gardening


4 thoughts

  1. I absolutely love John Jeavons. We already practice double digging and close-space planting. His book “How to Grow More Vegetables…” goes into a little more detail. You’d probably like it, too.

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