Permaculture Gardening Part 3

Reader Contribution by Michelle Martin
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We have decided to start our permaculture garden with mounds. We can build these almost anywhere in the garden. We have chosen to start small, developing different areas so that we will be able observe what works and what doesn’t

The first project was to build a keyhole mound between the existing fruit trees. This is not ideal…the trees should be planted as you build, but ours were already there and growing so we improvised.

The idea is that you have a trench (or lower level) to catch the rainfall. This then seeps slowly into the mound watering the plants. Since it doesn’t rain that much here we have decided to put in a watering system (drip feed) to help the plants out in the Summer. This will be placed on the top of the mound and at each side.

The mound itself is made up of layers. Wood is the starter. This we collected from the land at the side of us. Pruning’s of olive and almond trees have been left on the land. We collected them, trimmed them into different sizes and laid them on the ground in the shape of a horse shoe. Largest to smallest. The wood breaks down over time, releasing it’s nutrients into the mound and so feeding the plants growing there.

The next job was to dig out the trench around the outside and inside of the wood. This soil was put on top of the wood. There should be no sign that the wood is inside when the mound is finished. If there are twigs sticking out the water will run along them and out of the mound. Water will always find the path of least resistance in which to flow.

Since our soil is very poor, we placed sheep dung on the top. A layer about an inch thick all over the mound. The drip feed system will be placed on top of the dung and the pipes will be covered with straw to reduce evaporation and to add more organic material to the soil.

The lighter straw is where the trench was dug out and where we can walk to harvest and look after the plants.

We are planning on planting strawberries, peas, beetroot and radish on this mound. It’s still a little chilly at night here (February 2014) but by the end of February our seedlings will go in and so will all the seeds.