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Permaculture Garden: Will It Work for Us

| 2/10/2014 11:58:00 AM

The soilWhy do we want a permaculture garden? Living here in sunny Spain, trying to become self-sufficient becomes problematic when the rains do not come. This past year (2013) has been particularly hard with next to no rainfall. Our land and garden are so dry and watering is becoming a massive problem as we only have the water we can collect in our store.

Another problem for us is our soil. It’s light sandy soil, not very deep, with outcrops of bedrock dotted around. We have a mixture of bedrocks, sandstone, limestone and some igneous rocks too. This bedrock allows the rainwater to run off of our land at record speed. The igneous rock does not allow the water to penetrate and so we can see dips in our garden where the water runs, carrying the fine soil with it.

We tried breaking the bedrock up (back breaking work) to ensure our plants had enough depth of soil to grow in. We added lots of sheep and goat dung to the raised vegetable beds we built. This did improve the soil to an extent but we will have to keep adding every year to keep the nutrient levels up.

Raised beds

We also have strong winds here, blowing across the garden in every direction. Our plants get damaged through breakage, or even wind burn. But we live in the middle of nowhere…with no buildings to stop the wind. We sit here and watch the wind carry our soil away leaving just the broken up bedrock that is too heavy for it to carry.

We had already started to develop parts of the garden, using raised beds in shaded areas, hoping that the shade would allow our plants to survive the hot summer. We built three small beds in front of the shed and water store. Last year they were the best producers of the whole garden, as more shade meant less evaporation. However, these  beds are not big enough to feed us and our animals and there are no more shady areas to use.

3/5/2014 6:04:49 AM

Jeremy, thanks for the information and for is always good to get feedback.

2/13/2014 8:08:02 PM

Hi, what a great article and you are facing many problems we all deal with in our gardening adventure. A Mother earth News recommended Wiser Living that you and others may wish to look at is Peter Banes new "The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for town and Country". It deals mainly with North America, but can easily be adapted elsewhere, like Spain. Also, check out his mini-farm in Bloomington Indiana on Youtube. Water storage video is worth watching!

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